It’s playoff time in Texas and for the first time since 2012, the Sherman Bearcats are part of the field.
The Bearcats (5-5) will meet V.R. Eaton (5-5) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in a Class 5A Division I Region I bi-district game at Flower Mound’s Neal Wilson Stadium and Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez is ready to get things going.
“It’s the best time, in my mind,” Martinez said. “As a football coach, you live for the start of the playoffs. Even if you’re 10-0, and some teams are 1-9, you never know what happens.”
For the record, 59 UIL teams enter postseason play at 10-0, while two qualified at 1-9.
Sherman comes in as the No. 2 seed out of District 5-5A after finishing fourth at 3-3. Eaton is the No. 1 seed from District 6-5A after tying for third place at 4-3. The winner advances to the area round to take on the winner of Friday’s playoff between Colleyville Heritage and Fort Worth Arlington Heights in the area round.
“More than likely, the higher-seeded team will win,” Martinez said. “But you’ve seen it and I’ve seen it, it can turn. Some teams get hot. I’ve seen teams that were 5-5 and the next thing you know they’re 9-5. The year North Crowley won state, they were 11-4. They were in Division I and only played 15 games.
“It’s definitely possible. You’ve just got to get hot at the right time. If we can find a way, who knows?”
Martinez said earning a playoff berth is a sign of the progress the program has made during his two seasons.
“We’ve come miles from where we first started,” he said. “It’s about building relationships and trust, and sticking together. We’ve definitely done that. We’ve come a long way. I think our football staff has improved a lot. Our kids know who we are and trust us.
“I think that’s the biggest deal, that trust factor. We’re still building on it. We’re not where we want to be yet. It’s definitely come a long way from where we were and I’m excited about being able to continue to build.”
Sherman enters the game averaging 364 total yards (209.8 rushing, 154.2 passing) and 30 points per game. Running back Nathaniel Omayebu (208-1,274, 18 TDs rushing) has been the focal point of the offense. Quarterback Blaise Bentsen (119-212-6 1,542 yards, 12 TDs passing; 86-422, 5 TDs rushing) and receivers Tylor Jones (43-702, 5 TDs), Jeremy Norvell (27-268, 2 TDs) and Jaylyn Cleamons (16-203, 2 TDs) have keyed the passing game.
Running back Michael Wallace (3-387, 4 TDs), who returned to action last week after missing two games with a knee injury, gives the Bearcats another offensive weapon.
Martinez said Sherman will continue to rely on its rushing attack, which has accounted for more than 57 percent of the offensive production.
“You are who you are right now, but at the same time you do have a wrinkle in there,” he said. “If you see something on film that you feel like they don’t do very well, then you may pull that thing out.
“We’ve never gone empty, so I doubt you’ll see five-wide. But I’m not saying we won’t. If they don’t do a good job at it, we’ll try to do something. But we’re a run-based team. That’s who we are. We’re ride our offensive line and Nate into the playoffs and see if they can stop it 35 or 40 times. But at the same time, we’ve got to be smart. There can’t be seven in the box and us be in doubles and try to run the ball. That’s just insane.”
Defensively, Sherman has allowed 387.4 yards (181.8 rushing, 205.6 passing) and 30.4 points per game. Safety Austin Bindel leads the team with 50 total tackles, followed by linebacker Cody Hunter with 48 and safety Gage Smith with 41. Linebackers Jalyn Cotton and Brent Wilson each have 39 total takles and linebacker Devante Clayton has 37.