Cats end district play with spot secure

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Phoenix Grant comes up with an interception during a victory against Tyler in District 7-5A (I) action at Bearcat Stadium last Friday.

There are no worries about tie-breakers this time. There is no need to scoreboard watch and or deal with point differentials.

As the Bearcats looked to close on a three-game winning streak for the second straight season, they know there will be a game next week. Hopefully.

“Just excited to be playing another game in this crazy season. We’re going to compete and try to win the game. They’ve had enough taken away from them,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “Of course be smart and take care of the kids. There’s no guarantee we play next week. We’re going to get after it.”

Having the playoffs in your back pocket while you battle for seeding and try to bring momentum into the postseason is a good place to be.

And after Sherman (4-4, 3-1) put in the work the past two games to be in this spot, the Bearcats travel to West Mesquite (1-8, 1-4) to end the regular season and District 7-5A (I) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Stadium.

It will barely be a warmup for the bi-district road trip they have waiting, a contest to southeast Texas like they had two years ago.

“We’re happy and fortunate to be where we are,” Martinez said. “We want to continue getting better. You try to keep evolving and you tweak something you have that works.”

Sherman locked up its third postseason berth in four years with its win last week against Tyler. The Bearcats will either be the second or third seed pending the outcomes of the final games.

Sherman and Longview are tied because their matchup was cancelled due to COVID-19 and ruled a no-contest. The tie-breaker is point differential between common opponents and so all outcomes need to be included. If either team wins and the other loses on Friday, then there’s no need for the tie-breaker. But if they both have the same result, Longview is the second seed and Sherman is the third seed.

Since returning from their nearly three-week hiatus, the Bearcats haven’t lost. Following a win over McKinney North, Sherman followed that up with a 30-9 victory against Tyler last Friday afternoon.

Benji Omayebu had eight carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns, Andrew Nehrbass finished with 20 carries for 100 yards and a score and Jacoby Hunt caught a pair of passes for 60 yards and a score.

Omayebu and Nehrbass have had at least 100 yards from scrimmage each of the past two games.

“It’s a nice combination to have back there. They block well for each other,” Martinez said. “We’re a lot better when (Omayebu) has the ball in his hands. Andrew’s definitely going to get his touches.”

The Bearcat defense held Tyler to 149 yards, including 27 yards on 22 carries, and took a shutout into the middle of the fourth quarter.

“Our defense did a great job. The kids are playing really, really well,” Martinez said. “They didn’t have any real sustained drives. We’re trying to be aggressive (offensively), maybe we’re trying to be too aggressive but they are letting us because of how they are playing.”

West Mesquite was eliminated from playoff contention after the results of last week’s district match-ups.

The Wranglers are coming off a 49-13 loss against Highland Park in which they totaled 185 yards. Jay Cipriano completed 5-of-10 passes for 66 yards and two touchdowns, T.J. Turner finished with two catches for 48 yards and a TD, Devin Duncan had the other touchdown catch and Briceson Walker added 14 carries for 47 yards.

In the only victory of the season for West Mesquite, D’Erian Mitchell had 12 carries for 87 yards and two touchdowns during a 41-27 decision against Wylie East.

Javion Jackson finished with four catches for 50 yards and a score, Duncan’s lone catch was a 70-yard TD.

If the Wranglers lose to the Bearcats and finish 1-9, it will be the program’s worst mark since consecutive 1-9 seasons in 1986-87. West Mesquite was 2-8 in 2019 and on the way to a third straight losing season and fourth straight year without qualifying for the playoffs.

But the Wranglers have had several close losses — 10-3 to Tyler, 35-32 to McKinney North, 22-15 against Chisholm Trail and 32-23 against Waco.

“They’ve gotten better in the past month to now; played North and Tyler pretty close beat Wylie East,” Martinez said. “The big part of it, late in the year without a chance for the playoffs, it’s tough to be in that situation.”

District 7-5A (I)

What: Sherman at West Mesquite

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Memorial Stadium

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