Sherman ready for its return to the field

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
The Sherman Bearcats will play their first game this month when they travel to McKinney North on Thursday night in District 7-5A (II) play.

For the first time this month, the Sherman Bearcats will get a chance to play. And even though Thanksgiving is next Thursday, they are extremely grateful for the opportunity in front of them this week.

Now as they return to the field, the Bearcats still have their main goal intact heading into the final three games — make the playoffs.

“Just give us an opportunity to prove ourselves. Give the kids the chance to see if they’re good enough,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “Thank goodness we’re going to have that chance.”

A big step in that direction comes as Sherman (2-4, 1-1) travels to take on McKinney North (3-4, 3-1) in District 7-5A (I) action at McKinney ISD Stadium at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Sherman started November with the district bye and was scheduled to host Longview last week before the Sherman ISD put four athletic teams, including football, on pause for a seven-day period because of an uptick in COVID-19 cases within the school district. The game against the Lobos goes down as a no contest and could be used as a tie-breaker pending how the district finishes.

During that time off the Bearcats had to alter their practices, workouts and drills.

“Nothing involving a ball. Walkthroughs without a ball. Quarterbacks couldn’t throw to receivers,” Martinez said. “We could only do individual drills. Just perfect the little things we could do.

“The one concern for me is timing — the passing game. I’m not worried about mental toughness. Maybe we might be a little sloppy early on. Tackling might be an issue since we could only do so much.”

They also knew there was a chance they might have to wait even longer. Last Thursday the school district moved four campuses, including the high school, to remote learning until December. It essentially could have ended their season, leaving just one game to play with no chance to make the postseason.

“Our kids are great. They stay as positive as they can,” Martinez said. “I was worried a lot about their mindset. I can’t imagine being 16, 17 years old and not being able to do something that they want to do.”

Sherman will get the opportunity to show if they belong in the postseason based on their play and not by outside forces, at least for now.

“Our mindset is to go one week at a time,” Martinez said. “I know that it's a cliche for every coach but it’s never more true than right now.”

North is in position to officially clinch a playoff spot with a victory, something it would like to take care of as soon as possible, especially based on the unpredictability of the season. The Bulldogs and West Mesquite are the only teams left in the district that have not had a game cancelled due to COVID-19.

If North is able to come away with the victory, Sherman would have to win its last two games — at home against Tyler and at West Mesquite — to have a chance. Even a win over the Bulldogs wouldn’t guarantee anything pending the final two outcomes.

Of course for a team that last week knew nothing was guaranteed, it is an obvious situation.

McKinney North had a bye to open the year and then lost all three non-district contests, the closest by two touchdowns, before righting the ship against district opponents.

The Bulldogs picked up wins over the bottom three teams in the standings — 34-24 over Tyler, 35-32 against West Mesquite and 52-31 over Wylie East — to set up a battle for sole possession of first place against Highland Park last Friday.

That match-up did not go well for the Bulldogs as the Scots raced out to a 35-0 lead in the first quarter on the way to a 56-14 victory.

Now that McKinney North has all but clinched a playoff spot, the Bulldogs are looking at seeding since they close the schedule against Longview, which is tied with North, Sherman and Tyler in the loss column. If North wins out, it will get the second seed and finish as the district runner-up.

Against Highland Park, Taylor Offord had 10 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown, Gavin Constantine completed 13-of-22 passes for 87 yards and an interception and ran 16 times for 39 yards and JJ Henry caught five passes for 32 yards and opened the second half with a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Defensively the Bulldogs have allowed at least 31 points to every opponent except for Tyler.

District 7-5A (I)

What: Sherman at McKinney North

Where: MISD Stadium

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Broadcast: KMAD 102.5 FM /