SADLER — Even though there might have been a slight detour, in the end Josh Aleman didn’t have to go far for his first opportunity to become a head football coach.

The Sherman native and former Texas Tech offensive lineman was hired to be S&S’ head coach and athletic director on Thursday morning, just down the road from his hometown and where he had been an assistant for four of the past five seasons.

“What a great opportunity. This is what I’ve wanted to do my whole career,” Aleman said. “It’s icing on the cake. My roots are in Grayson County. I have family in the S&S ISD. We couldn’t be more excited.”

Aleman replaces James Gage, who stepped down last month after four seasons and a 15-28 record with three playoff appearances to become the offensive coordinator at Alvin.

“We started with three internal candidates and then five external candidates interviewed last Friday and then another external candidate on Monday,” S&S superintendent Roger Reed said about a process that had 75 applicants. “You’ve got to find the right fit for the whole district. It’s a very visible position. We felt like this is the right fit.”

In February Aleman was hired to be the offensive coordinator at Center, which is where former Bells head coach Scott Ponder had taken over this off-season, but being in charge of his own program was an easy choice for Aleman.

“I was committed to Center. Someone reached out and I got Coach Ponder’s and (superintendent) Dr. (James) Hockenberry’s blessing,” Aleman said. “I’m very fortunate for that.”

He spent the past two seasons as Sherman’s running game coordinator after spending the 2016 season at Denton Braswell. He was at Sherman the previous two years before starting his career at Bells.

Aleman was a three-time all-district selection and honorable mention all-state pick for the Bearcats before signing with Texas Tech. He was there for three years before finishing his career at Southeastern Oklahoma State.

This past season S&S went 0-10 as injuries hampered the program’s chase for a sixth straight playoff appearance, trying to extend the longest streak in school history. The Rams lost their top two quarterbacks within three plays in the season-opener and the domino effect on the offensive personnel led to a year-long struggle.

“An 0-10 season can wear you out. We’re going to come in and be energized,” Aleman said. “They’re going to have confidence. We’re going to go in and get after it. It doesn’t matter who’s across the line from us.”

S&S managed to scored more than two touchdowns just once and was shut out three times, scoring a total of 12 points over the final five contests. Three games were decided by 14 points or less as the Rams tried to avoid their first winless campaign since 2011. The Rams had a wining record at 6-5 in 2017.

The Rams will remain with District 5 opponents Callisburg, Gunter, Henrietta, Holliday, Nocona and Wichita Falls City View in Class 3A Division II for the 2019 season before the University Interscholastic League’s realignment process in February.

“We’ll have a plan with what we want to do going into the summer,” Aleman said. “It’s important for me to get going with meeting both the coaches and players. You’ve gotta have those relationships and communication to make things work.”