By Bill Spinks

By Bill Spinks

Herald Democrat

Sherman sophomore Jordan Henry is very fortunate to have avoided the same tragedy that befell another young Bearcat on the gridiron 18 years ago.

Henry, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound wide receiver, is expected to make a full recovery from a fractured fifth cervical vertebra suffered during the Bearcats’ Sept. 26 game at McKinney North. No damage to his spinal column resulted from the fracture, and no surgery will be required.

Henry was on the sideline for last Friday’s 115th Battle of the Ax, wearing a neck brace.

"He’s up and around, and he feels good," Sherman head coach Gary Kinne said. "The season’s over for him, but the doctor will evaluate him in 10 or 12 weeks, and if we’re still playing, we’ll see. We’ll evaluate him in the offseason, and hopefully he’ll be back next year."

Henry was injured after catching a short pass on the McKinney North 11-yard line with 5:24 remaining in the third quarter of Sherman’s 55-44 win at Ron Poe Stadium. After a 10-minute game delay, Henry was taken off on a stretcher.

On Oct. 20, 1995, Trenell Walker, a freshman for the Bearcats making his first varsity start at strong safety, was left paralyzed from the neck down during a game against Wichita Falls Hirschi when a teammate collided with him on a tackle, hitting the crown of his helmet.

Walker’s injury resulted in an informal ban on freshmen playing varsity football at Sherman, which was lifted last year to allow two then-freshmen, Chadd Perry and Dalton Felder, to play up.

Kinne said Henry’s avoidance of spinal damage was nothing short of miraculous.

"We felt like God saved him," Kinne said. "It could’ve been a lot worse. He could’ve been paralyzed, but instead, God intervened, and it was just a bad neck injury instead. So we’re rejoicing that."

*Purple tribute*

The Lady Bearcat volleyball team dedicated Tuesday’s district match to the memory of Sheryl Powers, the principal of Neblett Elementary and the mother of senior player Sami Powers. The one-year anniversary of Ms. Powers’ death was Thursday.

Neblett Elementary’s school color is purple, so that was the motif for the emotional occasion at Bearcat Gymnasium.

"Everybody in the stands wore purple, and we wore purple tape," head coach Cynthia Bruton said. "It was really neat."

The Lady Cats made it a winning tribute by easily sweeping Greenville, 3-0, to clinch the team’s first winning record in eight years and pull even with Wylie East for fourth place in District 13-4A.

"Extremely thankful for those that came out tonight and wore purple! Don’t know where I would be without the support! #purplepower #keepgoing," Sami Powers tweeted afterward. Later, she added, "Glad we could take the win on the night we honored my lovely angel!!! She’d be thrilled! Let’s only go up from here!"

The Lady Cats have a key district match at 5:30 p.m. at Wylie East, which won the first meeting. Both teams are 4-4 in 13-4A play and tied for the fourth and final playoff slot. A Sherman win this evening would put the Lady Cats in position for at least a play-in match at the end of the regular season.

*Playoff tennis*

With Tuesday’s 16-3 win over Greenville to close out district play, Sherman’s tennis team qualified for the District 13-4A/14-4A area tournament.

The Bearcats are seeded third and will open against the No. 2 seed out of District 14-4A on Thursday morning.

"We’ve had a good season," Sherman coach Rodney Pilcher said. "We lost seven players from last year to graduation, and we were very young this year, so we couldn’t have asked for a better result. Thursday morning we’ll see who we get, but I like our chances."

The University Interscholastic League this fall installed a new tournament format for team tennis. Instead of the top two teams out of a district postseason tournament going directly to regionals, the top four during the regular season will now advance to area.

The 13-4A/14-4A area tournament will begin on Thursday morning in Tyler, with finalists returning on Friday. The top two teams out of area will advance to the Class 4A Region II tournament in Grapevine.

*Running strong*

The Bearcats had a strong performance on the cross country circuit on Saturday at the Celina FCA Invitational, with the boys logging a second-place finish as a team.

Sherman tallied 115 points, finishing only behind Whitesboro, which took the top three individual spots. Samuel Dick led the way with a fifth-place finish, running the five kilometers in 17 minutes, 42.7 seconds. Teammate Mason Perales also placed in the top 10, coming in ninth in 18:03.

Eladio Lira (28th in 19:05.8), John Marlow (36th in 19:33.2) and Matt Schulze (37th in 19:33.6) rounded out Sherman’s team total.

The Lady Cats had four runners who completed the race before the 21-minute time limit and were led by Veronica Sosa, who finished the 3,200-meter course in 30th place in 14:10. Celeste Ramos was 4 1/2 seconds behind Sosa in 34th place.