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Bearcats try to bounce back after Ax loss

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Sherman's Tate Bethel and the Bearcats look to bounce back from a season-opening loss in the Battle of the Ax when they host Mount Pleasant on Friday night.

It is a position the Bearcats find themselves in the second week of the season because of what they have been unable to do in the opener.

In the long run, however, it hasn’t had an effect on how Sherman’s year will play out.

The previous three seasons have been a testament to that. Despite being unsuccessful in the Battle of the Ax, Sherman has made the playoffs twice and in 2019 just missed out as part of a three-way tiebreaker in third place.

“Our team goals don’t haven’t changed,” Sherman head coach J.D. Martinez said. “It just so happens it’s a big game that comes first. It’s a goal but there are are still others on the list put together by our leadership council.”

But now that the rivalry matchup opens the season, it brings about immediate questions for the losing side. In the case of the Bearcats, it has been them each time.

Sherman showed it can put the disappointment behind them — just a year ago it won the three games which followed.

Following that type of blueprint is the goal as Sherman (0-1) hosts Mount Pleasant (1-0) in non-district action at Bearcat Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Friday night.

“We’re going to keep getting better and get healthy,” Martinez said. “We’re going to go into it with the right mindset.”

Sherman came up short with a 41-23 loss against Denison in the 122nd Battle of the Ax to open its season last Thursday.

The Bearcats led 14-0 late in the first quarter and 16-13 at half-time but went the equivalent of three full quarters without scoring on offense as Denison broke the game open in the second half with four straight touchdowns.

Tate Bethel finished 20-of-29 for 195 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, which was returned for a score, Benji Omayebu had five catches for 72 yards, Jacoby Hunt totaled four receptions for 67 yards and a TD and Sean Husband hauled in five catches for 31 yards and a touchdown.

The running attack managed just 78 yards on 37 attempts. Andrew Nehrbass, who transferred from Olathe South in Kansas for his senior year, had nine carries for 39 yards before missing all but Sherman’s first drive in the second half due to injury and the nine sacks allowed brought the rushing total down — Bethel had 19 carries that netted only five yards.

The offensive line also got more than a second look after the start. There were three new starters on the unit and it showed at times.

“I look at the missed opportunities. We didn’t help ourselves gaining yards,” Martinez said. “We can improve on that. The blocking has to get better. It’s the first game. They did a good job. We didn’t.”

Injuries were something of a factor in the contest. In addition to Nehrbass, Omayebu missed almost the entire second quarter with a thigh injury and was hobbled in the second half, as was Bethel after an ankle injury late in the second quarter. Defensive end Nolbert Sibrian suffered a knee injury just minutes into the game and will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL. The Bearcats also dealt with numerous cramps throughout.

A defense which has eight new starters allowed just one touchdown in the first half — Denison’s other TD was on an interception return — but was worn down by the Jackets running game that ended with 292 yards.

Mount Pleasant opened its season with a 49-6 victory against one of Sherman’s districtmates, Wylie East.

It was a game that was only a 6-0 advantage for the Tigers at half-time before they produced four touchdowns in the third quarter and held a 35-6 lead going to the fourth.

Running back Caleb Jones led the offensive attack while the defense came up with five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles.

Wylie East’s lone TD was on a 61-yard quarterback scramble.

” They’re a big, strong, physical team. We better figure it out or it’s going to be a long night,” Martinez said. “There’s more misdirection than what we saw (with Denison).”

Non-district

What: Mount Pleasant at Sherman

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

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