Sherman hosts McKinney seeking its third straight victory

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman senior linebacker Isaiah Jones breaks up a pass during the Bearcats' non-district win over Saginaw. SHS hosts McKinney on Friday night.

The pulse of a team can change on a weekly basis. Sherman has run a gamut of emotions in the opening three weeks and every outcome has allowed the Bearcats to find out a little bit more about themselves.

It no doubt has been a benefit for a new coaching staff and new starters to gain these types of experiences before district play starts.

Most of the lessons have come following victories, and the Bearcats have a chance to end non-district play on a three-game winning streak as Sherman (2-1) hosts McKinney (2-1) at at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Bearcat Stadium.

The Cats will jump right into 7-5A (I) action next Friday against Wylie East — the team’s bye is still a couple weeks away — but the focus remains on the Lions.

“We’re trying to keep things simple. There’s no looking ahead. The kids haven’t shown any signs of that,” Sherman head coach Cory Cain said. “We try to stack good days on top of each other.”

Last year’s match-up was a 24-14 win by McKinney where Sherman got within three points early in the fourth quarter before the Lions put the game away with a six-minute touchdown drive. It sent the Cats to a 1-3 mark leading into the district opener.

And while sporting a losing record didn’t have an effect on how Sherman competed in 7-5A (I) play — going 4-1 and tying for second place — entering the most important games of the schedule on a winning streak would only enhance the progress being made on both sides of the ball.

“What I’ve learned about our kids is that these kids are fighting their guts out each week,” Cain said. “There’s no doubt getting two wins in a row, going for three wins increases the buy-in. If we were on the other end of it and were 0-fer, I’m sure there’d be questions.”

After needing a Hail Mary on the final play against Mount Pleasant to pick up its first victory, Sherman cruised to back-to-back wins after its 52-10 outing over Saginaw.

“Our kids handled the video well — there’s enough learning there to keep their attention,” Cain said. “There’s always something new to work on. Every group you coach is different and how you deal with and adjust to them is always changing.”

Vontrelle Sanders had five catches for 118 yards and a touchdown, Aries Jones totaled 64 yards and a touchdown on four receptions, Phoenix Grant threw for 244 yards and the two TDs and Kane Bowen finished with 11 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns as six different Bearcats found the end zone.

It was also the best output on the ground with four different rushers scoring and Cain noted the cohesion developing on the offensive line.

“They’re maturing as a group. We’re fired up about the direction they’re going,” Cain said. “They’re doing well and we’ll need them to do well again this week.”

Sherman built up a 35-3 lead that hit 45-3 near the end of the third quarter and held Saginaw to just 135 yards, including 71 yards on 38 carries and that total included a 60-yard TD run.

McKinney is coming off a 35-9 victory against Rowlett. Bryan Jackson had 24 carries for 158 yards and a touchdown, Alek Giragosian was 12-of-17 passing for 112 yards and a score while Xavier Filsaime and Jeffery Pearson had TD receptions and Damon Youngblood returned an interception for a score.

For the third straight game the Lions had a different quarterback get a majority of the snaps. Trevor Ham started the opener and saw some time in the second game but Sampson Nazarko, the starter last season, led in attempts during Game 2.

Then last week against Rowlett, Nazarko was 3-for-5 for 53 yards with a touchdown pass and a TD run before Giragosian came on and saw extensive snaps.

Jackson leads the team in rushing, picking up 349 yards and two touchdowns on 57 carries.

McKinney has had three different Lions lead in receiving yards with Messiah Washington hauling in three TD catches so far.

The Lions could easily be 3-0 — they opened with a 35-28 win against Har-Ber, which is based in Springdale, Ark., and then lost 28-21 against Flower Mound Marcus.

After giving up 458 yards to Har-Ber, McKinney has allowed a total of 491 yards in the past two contests.

Youngblood is committed to Louisiana-Lafayette while another member of the secondary, Josh Dixon, is a Wyoming commit and defensive lineman Tanner Call is headed to Navy.

“They have a very good team. Defensively they’re aggressive, put pressure on you,” Cain said. “They’re actually pretty young at the skill positions but they’re all talented. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Non-district

What: McKinney at Sherman

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Radio: KMAD 102.5 FM