For two weeks the Bearcats have faced the prospect of not making the playoffs. A loss in either of those games would have kept them out.
But Sherman seems to have saved its best for last, putting up lopsided wins to keep in the hunt for a third straight playoff berth.
Now as the end of the season has arrived, there is just one more opponent standing in the way. The goal is simple just like the attitude hasn’t changed since the Bearcats’ backs have been put against the wall.
“We talked about it three weeks ago. We knew what we had to do,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “They’ve done exactly what they needed to. I can’t say enough about the kids and I can’t say enough about the job our coaches have done in getting them ready.”
The outcome of the final 48 minutes of the 2019 season will determine if Sherman (5-4, 2-3) is preparing for a game next week but the task at hand comes in hosting John Tyler (3-6, 3-2) in the District 7-5A (I) finale at Bearcat Stadium at 7 p.m. on Friday.
The Bearcats have to be beat John Tyler but that won’t be enough — they also have to watch what happens in the West Mesquite-Texas High match-up.
Sherman would clinch a playoff spot with a win and a West Mesquite victory or if the Bearcats win by at least 11 points should Texas High earn the victory. Sherman is eliminated with a loss and in that case the final postseason spot will go to the West Mesquite-Texas High winner.
“It’s a great opportunity in front of us. I want to be as aggressive as we possibly can,” Martinez said. “Let’s go play the best game we can possibly play and when the dust settles we’ll see where we are.”
John Tyler has already clinched a playoff spot and the game against the Bearcats could affect its seeding. If John Tyler wins, it will be the third seed. If the Lions lose, they could be the fourth seed depending on a couple of different outcomes in a three-way tiebreaker.
Sherman won a second straight elimination game with a 56-27 victory against West Mesquite last Friday. The Bearcats turned a 14-all game after the first quarter into a 49-14 advantage by the middle of the third quarter.
Tate Bethel completed 13-of-20 passes for 225 yards with three touchdowns and an interception and also ran for a score, Mike Brown totaled 170 yards and two TDs on 21 carries and Jacoby Hunt finished with five receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
“I’m very, very happy with what the offensive guys have done,” Martinez said. “There’s a lot of confidence and I hope that’s the mindset. We’ll line up and play anyone right now. We’re confident in what we can do.”
John Tyler started the season on a four-game losing streak — with the closest defeat being 17 points — leading into district play.
Then the Lions won three straight to put themselves in good position to make the playoffs, beating Texas High, 16-0, Wylie East, 48-7, and West Mesquite, 39-36.
Now John Tyler is coming off back-to-back losses — 36-28 against McKinney North and last week against Mesquite Poteet, 37-14 — a year after the Lions won the district championship with a perfect 6-0 mark on the way to a 10-3 record and region final appearance before a seven-point loss to eventual state champion Highland Park.
That success, however, came on the strength of a senior core that has turned things over to a new group of Lions.
Last week against Poteet, John Tyler was only down 10-7 at half-time and it was just a 17-14 deficit going to the fourth quarter before Poteet pulled away.
Kitan Crawford had 11 carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns, Isaiah Johnson completed 8-of-20 passes for 116 yards and three interceptions and Frank Turner caught two passes for 48 yards. The Lions also lost a pair of fumbles.
Poteet, without Oklahoma commit Seth McGowan, still ran for 212 yards on the way to nearly 400 yards of offense.
Crawford, who is committed to Texas as a defensive back, has paced the offense with 95 carries for 875 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The quarterback spot is one to watch. Cameron Ford has completed 67-of-149 passes for 970 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions and is the second leading rusher with 98 carries for 438 yards and four TDs.
But Ford did not play last week against Poteet. Eli Sanchez started and completed 4-of-6 passes for 29 yards before being replaced by Johnson.
“If he’s not there, it’s a bonus,” Martinez said. “You find out what their top three run plays are and go take them away. Keep them from doing what they do best.”
Crawford is also one of the Lions’ top receivers, hauling in 19 catches for 255 yards and a TD. Frank Turner has 15 catches for 356 yards and three touchdowns and Austin Campbell is at 23 catches for 221 yards and a score.
Defensively, John Tyler has allowed at least 34 points in six of its nine games.