Expectations for the 2011 Sherman Bearcats were high coming into the season, but slipped at times as the season progressed; and honestly, rightfully so.
Graduation hit SHS hard and while hopes were high for the players now stepping into those roles, the issue of ‘proving it’ still laid in front of them. In no place was that more evident than at quarterback, where it seemed the coaches waited until the first offensive huddle in the opener to settle on a starter.
I mention that because nearly 365 days after Sherman’s 2010 season came to an end in the second round of the playoffs, here is a club - that some doubted could reach the same lofty goals - prepping for its own second round match-up with Waxahachie.
They definitely got there in different ways. Where as last year’s team lived as its offense lived, the 2011 club has been reliant of late on its stout defense.
But regardless of how they got to this point, it should be noted that while some worried after blowouts against Highland Park and LakeDallas or that disappointing loss at Sulphur Springs, this team managed to regroup and put itself in a position to not only match last season, but improve upon it.
In regards to Friday’s play-off win over Whitehouse, I just have a couple observations.
First, to paraphrase myself from an earlier line this season, “What can you say about JT Luper that hasn’t already been said about Joseph Harvey?” So, Harvey goes down with an injury and Luper steps into the go-to receiver role for three weeks and the team doesn’t miss a beat.
You might wonder then, what happens when Harvey steps back into the lineup? I’ll tell you: Luper decides to let Harvey have his gig back and then makes his impact elsewhere, namely with a 77 yard interception return and a 55 yard punt return, both for touchdowns.
Second, how about Harvey? He misses three games and decides to slowly work back into action by just hauling in five catches for 141 yards and a touchdown. Waxahachie should be worried if he gets back to “full speed” this week.
Third: Kolby Milner. It really is a disappointment that Sherman did not get to watch this kid all season. After returning an interception for a touchdown in his first game with the Bearcats, he decides a perfect encore would be to step over to offense and run for 113 yards and a score.
Sherman finished with 290 yards rushing and had two players, Milner and Elijah Butler, rush for 100-plus yards.
Finally: the defense. I could talk about them individually, but that would basically be me breaking down every player in some form or fashion; and I don’t want this dragging on. Besides, it’s a team sport and this defense has epitomized that. Sherman has now posted an interception in six straight games and has scored defensive points in seven straight. Even when the defense is bending, it isn’t breaking; and it certainly knows how to take the ball out of its opponent’s hands.
Looking ahead, Waxahachie brings a 9-2 record into the contest as well as running back Robert Lowe Jr., who has tallied 1,589 yards and 30 rushing TD’s.
The Bearcat defense will also have to contend with quarterback Don King III who has completed 142-of-241 passes this year for 2,402 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
Sherman will have its hands full on Friday, but if this season is any indicator, I wouldn’t suggest you set your expectations any lower than a Bearcat win.