TYLER — The longest road trip of the regular season was a cakewalk compared to what the Sherman Bearcats are about to face in terms of travel now that the playoffs are here.
They can only hope the ride back is a little more enjoyable.
A day after knowing it had locked up not only a spot in the postseason but also the third seed, Sherman lost against 7-5A (I) champion, 45-13, in the district finale at Earl Campbell Field on a chilly night.
The Bearcats (4-6, 3-3) did not have to win against John Tyler (7-2, 6-0) because of McKinney North’s loss to West Mesquite on Thursday night — a game many of the players and coaches went and watched.
“That was the number one deal and that was the number one goal all season long,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “It was a huge sense of relief. You worked really hard and you’re in and you’re the third seed. The kids earned it.”
Due to a change in the playoff structure starting this season, not only was Class 5A split into divisions as part of the realignment process but the top two seeds are guaranteed to host a first-round playoff game. That puts Sherman on the road against the runner-up in District 8-5A (I), which happens to be Magnolia West. The trip for the bi-district contest, which is 7:30 p.m. on Friday, will be in the neighborhood of 275 miles — each way — as Magnolia West is northwest of Houston.
“This was our longest trip, two and a half hours, and now it’s going to be about four and a half hours,” Martinez said. “We’ll start getting them mentally prepared.”
The JT defense, led by the Jarrius Lane and Christian Hartsfield, harassed Bearcat quarterback Blaise Bentsen en route to the victory. It is the Lions’ 28th district championship in school history and the fourth in the last seven seasons. John Tyler will host to Tomball on Friday.
The Lions jumped out to a 21-0 lead but this time did not need a last-second Hail Mary pass for the win.
The Lions, led by the efficient passing and effective running of quarterback Devlen Woods, built a 42-3 halftime advantage.
Woods threw four touchdown passes while rushing for another. His 33-yard dash to the one set up Cameron Grant’s TD.
Woods connected on 11-of-16 passing attempts for 202 yards, tossing TD passes of 10 yards to Ka’Darian Asbell, 48 to K’Lon Warren and 73 and 18 to last week’s hero, Ke’Andre Street.
Woods had 70 yards on the ground with a 32-yard TD dash on five carries.
Street had two catches for 91 yards and two TDs.
Sherman’s 1,000-yard rusher Mike Brown did not play the first two series and had limited action, carrying the ball six times for 96 yards. One of his runs, a 77-yarder to the JT five, gave the Bearcats their first first-down in the second quarter.
“The only thing that changed for us was Mike Brown, to limit the number of carries,” Martinez said. “We were able to do that with him only getting six in this game.”
The Lions’ defense held and Joel Nandin booted the first of his two field goals, a 23-yarder with 11:16 on the clock in the second. In the third quarter, he kicked a 26-yarder.
JT’s only score in the second half, which had a running clock, was a 32-yard field goal by Frankie Sanchez with six seconds left in the third quarter.
Damian McKee was the top rusher for the Bearcats, gaining 162 yards and scoring once on 19 attempts. His 51-yard TD run came with 11:49 to go in the fourth.
JT sacked Bentsen five times for a minus 31 in yardage. Bentsen was 3-of-8 passing for 17 yards with two of those completions to Blake Steele.