There’s something about getting that first victory that takes the load off a team’s shoulders.

Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez has seen his team’s spirits perk up in practice following last Friday’s 19-0 homecoming blanking of Frisco Liberty — the Bearcats’ first home shutout since 2002 — and maybe, just maybe, some momentum can be generated going into District 7-5A (I) play next week.

“It was huge for our confidence, and everything they were needing to get some stuff done confidence-wise,” Martinez said. “I was proud of the way the defense played, and mixed it up. The offense was able to keep the defense off (the field) a little bit. It shows what can happen when we help each other out.”

But first, there’s the matter of this week’s non-district finale at Justin Northwest at 7 p.m. tonight. Getting to 2-2 going into the new circuit would be a major boost to the Bearcats’ morale.

This week’s game was moved up a day to avoid a forecast of heavy rain for Friday. Martinez announced the change at about 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday after receiving final approval from Sherman ISD superintendent David Hicks. Tonight’s scheduled sub-varsity games at Bearcat Stadium have been switched to Friday and will be played instead at Northwest.

A steady rain throughout last week’s contest spoiled the homecoming festivities, but the conditions suited the Bearcats’ offensive game just fine. Sherman rode the coattails of running back Mike Brown and quarterback Blaise Bentsen on the ground, with Brown toting the ball 30 times and Bentsen scoring twice.

However, tonight’s forecast is dry, which means a fast track at Northwest ISD Stadium as the Bearcats face a Texans team in largely the same boat as Sherman, at 1-2 on the year.

“It’s going to be a really good challenge for us,” Martinez said. “It may even be a litmus test for both teams to find out where we are.”

Northwest won its opener at home against Little Elm, 41-34, then suffered a narrow 34-31 loss at District 7-5A member McKinney North on a 45-yard touchdown pass with less than three minutes left.

Last week at home, the Texans were manhandled by Grapevine, losing 56-21 as Texans quarterback Austin Ahmad was intercepted four times and the Mustangs galloped to almost 500 total offensive yards.

DeMareus Hosey has rushed for 322 yards and four touchdowns to lead Northwest, and Ahmad has passed for 602 yards and eight TDs along with six picks. Four receivers — Quentin Lee, Zavion Taylor, DaVeantae Stegall and Antonio Reese — share Ahmad’s targets almost evenly.

“They do a good job of throwing it to the flats,” Martinez said. “We’d better tackle well. That’s one thing about moving the game up (to avoid the rain) — if they get wet, I don’t know if we’d be able to tackle them. They’re pretty hard to tackle.”

The Bearcats took care of the ball in a steady downpour last week, with no turnovers. To be successful this week, they’ll have to do the same in dry weather.

“It’s key to football at any level — junior high, high school, college and pro,” Martinez said.

Sherman will be without defensive tackle Ivan Calvillo for the first half after last week’s ejection late in the game against Liberty, but Martinez said the Bearcats are plenty deep with Daniel Omayebu, Richy Clark, TK Walton and Brandon Torres in the trenches.

“We’ll be fine there,” Martinez said. “We’re going to line up and play. The good thing is, when the second half rolls, we’ll get a fresh dude. We’re trying to look at it positively.”

In last week’s poor playing conditions, Bentsen only attempted five passes against Liberty, completing two, both to Damian McKee out of the backfield. In order to be successful against Northwest, Martinez said the Bearcats will have to be able to throw the ball much more effectively.

To that end, the Cats are making some adjustments this week, moving sophomore Tate Bethel to inside, or “Z”, receiver and bringing in another sophomore, Jacoby Hunt, to start at outside “X” receiver.

“Blaise has got to be (accurate) and our receivers are going to have to catch the ball,” Martinez said. “We’re going to have to be better. And if we can do that, we’re going to give ourselves a chance. If we can’t, we’re going to be in trouble. We’ll have to air it out this week and be successful doing it.”