The Lady Bearcats have been stuck on the outside of the playoffs for several years now and in each of the previous two seasons, a different voice and direction was put in place.
With the beginning of another year, there is yet another new leader at the front of the program but the direction won’t chance for the handful of Lady Cats returning to the field.
The goal to improve and find a way into the postseason begins as Sherman opens the season at 12:30 p.m. on Friday against Dallas Adamson in the Mansfield Timberview Tournament. Next up is Timberview at 5 p.m. on Friday and then against Dallas Adams at 7:15 p.m. on Saturday.
Under new head coach Chance Hawkins, the Lady Bearcats will look to build around the returning core and make the necessary changes to move up in the standings.
“I’m excited. The girls are excited. They are doing a good job and ready to go,” Hawkins said. “Playoffs is the goal. That’s the push we’re trying to make. The way this group plays together as a team is special and I think that will help us get to where we want to be.”
Sherman will be looking to improve on a 4-16-3 season and 0-9-1 mark in district play. It was the second straight year the Lady Bearcats won four matches and a second straight sixth-place finish in the district standings. The program last made the playoffs in 2014 as part of back-to-back postseason appearances and Sherman’s last season with a winning record was 2017.
Hawkins, who was hired as an assistant in 2017 and coached receivers in football before moving to running backs going into this fall, is a 2010 Sherman graduate. He jumps up to the lead spot after Nic Summerfield stepped down after one season in charge of the program.
“I think they’ve done a good job of adapting. Me taking over before last school year ended helped tremendously,” Hawkins said. “The amount of effort they’ve put in to practice and lifting and girls playing new positions, they’ve done well with all of it.”
Among those lost to graduation include defender Presleigh Walser, who was named first-team all-district, as well as forward D’Ira Woods, who was picked second-team all-district. Also needing to be replaced were honorable mention all-district choices Allison Brewer, Kayla McDonald, Yesenia Martinez and Fatima Terrazas.
“We kinda had the girls locked into where they were last year but three of them are at new positions,” Hawkins said. “That’s who we’re going to lean on, those returners.”
Sherman brings back senior midfielder Bailey Tillotson, who was selected second-team all-district, and junior forward Lizbeth Sanchez, who was honorable mention all-district.
Sanchez will be alongside sophomores Brandy Moran and Carmen Ramirez at the forward spots.
“We’re going to be young up top but it’s a solid group,” Hawkins said.
Returning with Tillotson in the midfield are senior Daniella Arroyo and junior Abigail Escobedo. The other starting slot is a battle between sophomore Emma Ford, freshman Cynthia Wilson and junior Abigail Khader.
Junior Sandra Marin is again an option off the bench at both midfield and defender.
“We’re trying to find the right mix between those mids and defenders,” Hawkins said.
On defense, seniors Amy Nevarez and Jazmyne Aguilar move back a level to lead the unit. Freshman Riley Tillotson jumps into a starting role while Khader and Escobedo might end up seeing minutes here as well.
Junior Maria Lopez takes over as the Lady Cats keeper. She was on the junior varsity as a freshman before missing her sophomore season with a torn ACL.
“She’s done a real good job at keeping things organized at the back,” Hawkins said.
In addition to competing in the Princeton and Gainesville Tournaments, Sherman will face Greenville, Denton Braswell, Gainesville and Midlothian in non-district matches before opening 10-5A play on Feb. 4. The Lady Bearcats are once again grouped with Denison, McKinney North, Lovejoy, Princeton and Wylie East. North, the defending district champ, Lovejoy, East and Princeton are the teams looking to return to the playoffs again this season.