The playoffs have essentially begun two weeks early for Sherman’s football team.

The playoffs have essentially begun two weeks early for Sherman’s football team.

The injury-riddled Bearcats are faced with the task of winning two more District 13-4A games to place themselves in very good position to win another Class 4A Division I berth. Any slip-up in the final two weeks, however, would eliminate the Bearcats from any shot at the playoffs.

The second step in Sherman’s path, against winless Greenville at home, sounds achievable. But watch out for that first step Friday night at Wylie, because it’s a doozy.

"They’ve lost to Denison and Wylie East, and both of them are probably the two best teams in our district," Bearcats head coach Gary Kinne said. "They lost to (Mesquite) Poteet, who’s really good, and lost to Sachse, which is a 5A team. These guys don’t just lose to anybody. They’ve got a good program and a good team."

The Bearcats have already made one trip to Wylie Stadium, where Wylie East sent Sherman home with a 38-14 loss three weeks ago.

"We definitely ought to be familiar with the stadium, and it’s a nice stadium," Kinne said.

The Pirates (4-4, 3-2) are coming off a 35-27 loss at Denison last week as the Yellow Jackets rallied in the fourth quarter. Wylie quarterback Carsen Cook appeared to play the entire game, completing 17 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns.

Kameron Kelly, who has taken snaps at quarterback at times, caught one TD pass and added a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last week.

"Both of them are good, and one of them throws more than the other," Kinne said. "Kelly’s a threat whether he’s at quarterback or receiver. They’re explosive on offense and really, really good in the box on defense."

After last Friday’s 35-21 loss at home to Lovejoy, Kinne was disappointed in the number of missed opportunities caused by turnovers and penalties. But he also saw plenty of bright spots. One of them was senior Jordan Hume, who had two big kickoff returns of 30 yards to start the Bearcats across midfield.

"Jordan did a great job giving us field position," Kinne said. "That’s one thing that’s been good for us all year. Our kickoff return has been good for us."

One thing the Bearcats need to do, Kinne said, is learn how to finish. Against both Denison and Lovejoy, the Bearcats were within a touchdown with six minutes left before each opponent pulled away.

"We’ve been in nearly every game we’ve played, and then we’ve not closed out," he said. "Either turnovers, or we allowed easy scores on defense. We’ve got to play better in the fourth quarter. We have not played well in the fourth quarter this season. If we want to win, it’s going to be a fourth-quarter game."

The injury situation for Sherman is slowly improving. Senior quarterback Case Rolen is off crutches and Kinne said Rolen is a "maybe" for Friday’s game. Rolen suffered a groin strain during the Royse City game two weeks ago.

Also, senior Tarrence Franklin, primarily a defensive tackle this season, returned to the lineup last week after missing most of three games with an ankle injury and played on both sides of the ball.

Senior Tre’ Mask, who quarterbacked the team last week, rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and is only 46 yards from his second-straight 1,000-yard season.

Absent the injuries, the Bearcats are the same team that went into McKinney North and rode Mask’s seven-TD performance to a 55-44 win.

Does the team have it in them to do it one more time on the road in a game that holds the key to its playoff hopes? Kinne hopes so.

"We said at the time they were a good football team, and they are," he said of North. "They could win two and be district champions. I think we’ve got one of those games left in us. We’ll see, but we can, no doubt about that."