Sherman on the verge of a playoff spot

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Andrew Nehrbass and the Bearcats host Tyler in District 7-5A (I) action on Friday afternoon at Bearcat Stadium.

After falling short of the playoffs last season, if you had told the Bearcats they would be playing after Thanksgiving they would gladly take it.

And while the twist to 2020 means it’s not a postseason contest Sherman is preparing for but a district matchup, it hasn’t changed their attitude because of what it means if the program wants to play into the middle of December.

Two weeks ago this was a game in doubt after COVID-19 cases spiked within the Sherman ISD. There was a chance that athletics, which was put on a one-week pause, could be sidelined through the end of the month.

“We’re very thankful for every game we get to play. You better be thankful for what you get,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “We wanted to play to prove it on the field.”

The Bearcats would have missed three games and ended their hopes of making the playoffs. And while Sherman had to cancel against Longview, the Bearcats returned after a nearly three-week layoff and then put themselves firmly in the driver’s seat to finish in the top four.

Cementing that spot could come as Sherman (3-4, 2-1) hosts Tyler (2-5, 2-2) in District 7-5A (I) action at 2 p.m. on Friday at Bearcat Stadium.

The Bearcats will clinch with a victory against Tyler and a West Mesquite loss against Highland Park. Sherman plays at West Mesquite to finish the season.

“I don’t let the kids worry about that; that’s my job,” Martinez said. “We worried about what’s in front of us right now, and that’s Tyler. They understand the expectation’s to be playing our best football at the end of the season. The kids all buy into that.”

A year ago the Bearcats tied Texas High and Tyler for third place, all with 3-3 records, but Sherman ended up on the outside of the postseason while the other two advanced.

Tyler enters the match-up still alive but needs a lot of help. The Lions have to beat Sherman and then hope for a variety of outcomes over the final weeks. Tyler ends with Longview and faces the prospect of that being a must-win game as well.

The Bearcats didn’t look very rusty with a 44-35 victory against McKinney North that involved a power outage in the final three minutes and forced the teams to change stadiums.

“Being down as many kids as we had, we knew it would be challenging. Our kids answered the call,” Martinez said. “A real good compliment you can give any team or culture is that the kids played really hard. And they’ve done that. They don’t hold anything back.”

Benji Omayebu had 11 carries for 168 yards and two touchdowns to go with five catches for 81 yards, Tate Bethel completed 19-of-26 passes for 302 yards and two TDs and also ran seven times for 56 yards and a score, Jacoby Hunt totaled 116 yards and a touchdown on six catches and Andrew Nehrbass finished with four catches for 80 yards and a TD while rushing 12 times for 67 yards.

Tyler opened the season with four straight losses and had won two straight, beating West Mesquite and Wylie East, before losing last week, 49-10, against Highland Park.

The Scots clinched a playoff spot with the win and led 36-0 at half-time.

Tyler managed just five yards on 29 carries while Eli Sanchez completed 22-of-39 passes for 265 yards and a touchdown.

Montrell Wade had five receptions for 115 yards and a TD and Makavion Potts added 58 yards on five receptions.

Tyler has not scored more than four touchdowns in a game and allowed at least 40 points in four of the five losses — McKinney North had 34 in the other.

The Lions have split snaps at quarterback and gotten similar results. Sanchez has completed 47-of-91 passes for 642 yards with three TDs and five interceptions while Ken’yontae Pinkard has landed 47-of-84 attempts for 780 yards with five TDs and four INTs but has not thrown a pass the past two games, running a combined nine times.

“They’ve kinda settled in on a guy,” Martinez said. “That’s who we’re preparing for.”

Kameron Medlock leads Tyler with 75 carries for 402 yards and a touchdown while Jacques Jones has 35 carries for 274 yards and four TDs. Pinkard does have three scores on the ground.

Potts has a team-high 33 catches for 521 yards and a TD while Wade is at 21 receptions for 462 yards and four touchdowns. CJ Gilliam is the only other Lion with more than seven catches (11).

District 7-5A (I)

What: Tyler at Sherman

When: 2 p.m. Friday

Radio / Broadcast: KMAD 102.5 FM / www.shsbearcats.net/broadcasts