Sherman has homecoming on tap for Friday night, but the Bearcats were still lamenting the “what-ifs” around last week’s loss to White Settlement Brewer.
Clinging to a lead with less than three minutes left, the Bearcats appeared to have forced a gave-saving fumble recovery by Isaiah Jones inside Brewer’s red zone — but instead the ball was ruled down, the Bears went on to score the go-ahead touchdown, and the Bearcats dropped to 0-2 with a 24-21 loss.
“The referee dropped his beanbag for a fumble and the umpire said he was down,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “If you go back and look at it on film, he wasn’t down. It was a fumble. But we don’t have instant replay in high school, so it was unfortunate. That could’ve been the game right there and we could’ve won the game 21-17.”
But on the Texas schoolboy gridiron, there’s always next week to get ready for, and no time for looking back.
Homecoming week, as usual, provides plenty of distraction for students. As far as Martinez is concerned, the earlier it occurs, the better.
“Personally, I want to get it done in pre-district, because of all the festivities that do come into it,” Martinez said. “I don’t want to do that during a district game.”
Martinez said practice was cut off 15 minutes early on Monday in order to allow players to participate in the homecoming parade.
“The kids kind of start getting their minds thinking about that,” Martinez said, “as much as you preach about it not to. Our job is to win the game. That way everyone is happy. But still, I’m not a 16-year-old or 17-year-old kid or a senior who’s nominated. There’s some special feelings that somebody has, but we talk about doing your job and getting focused. It’s hard for a young teenager to be focused.”
The pageantry of homecoming won’t be the only thing the Bearcats will have to overcome Friday night at Bearcat Stadium against visiting Frisco Liberty at 7:30 p.m.
Sherman also must solve the trend through the first two games of bogging down offensively and being unable to sustain drives. Last Friday night, the Bearcats were held to just 18 offensive plays while the defense faced 49 Brewer plays. Fatigue undoubtedly played a role in the Bears’ 18-play drive for the go-ahead score.
“We want to be able to control the clock, and keep our defense off the field,” Martinez said. “We scored on one of those drives (in the second half), but still, when you only get (to snap) the ball 18 times, it’s tough to do it. Our defense was bending but not breaking in the second half, but … we couldn’t get off the field. We’ve just got to be able to make a stop.”
The missing ingredient, Martinez said, is an offensive tempo. One area where the Bearcats clicked was in running a power read with quarterback Blaise Bentsen, and that helped spring running back Mike Brown down the seam for a 20-yard touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter.
“When we’re able to be successful on first down and we’re able to get into a tempo … then we’re OK, we’re rolling, and things can build off of it,” Martinez said. “When you’re successful at one thing, it opens up something else. I think that’s vital to us. We’ve got to find that one thing that we’re successful at.”
The Bearcats are facing the Redhawks for the third straight season and the fifth time overall, going 4-0 all-time. Last year, Sherman got the treat of traveling to the Ford Center at The Star to play Liberty and as an added bonus, copped a 39-13 victory.
The Redhawks (0-2) are coming off a 25-22 double-overtime loss to Carrollton Creekview. The week before, they opened the season with a 38-24 loss to North Garland.
“They’re a little more traditional,” Martinez said. “Last year they were run-based, but they’ve added an element of passing off of it, and their passing game has improved. They’re a little more diverse than they’ve been in the past.”
Defensively, the Redhawks have switched from a 4-2-5 set to an odd-man front, with three down linemen and four linebackers.
For Sherman, the best news to come out of last Friday’s game is no significant injuries. Martinez credited Sherman’s lifting and stretching regimen, and the coaches even have the team doing yoga — a trend that’s catching on.
“Our defensive coordinator, Mark Wilkinson, does yoga all the time,” Martinez said. “He’s almost 39 years old, but he’s one of the most limber 39-year-olds I’ve seen. He knows it works, so he and coach (Nico) Summerfield have passed it on to our kids and I think it’s helping keep us safe.”