SETH — While Sherman has lost the services of All-State signal caller J.T. Hensley and state track and field champion and star running back Tommy Harper to graduation, Sherman High head coach Michael Showalter isn't going to throw in the towel because he lost over 2,000 rushing yards and more than 30 TDs in the backfield.
Sherman returns only two starters from a loaded 2018 team.
"Those guys were an important part of our success and nobody questions that," said Showalter. "What you want, is for those guys and the success they saw inspire and push the guys you have now to achieve great things. That cultivates a winning culture."
Sherman won't abandon the veer-option offensive set that they are known for, but with new signal caller CJ Winnell under center, Showalter is encouraged by the development of the sophomore.
"He's an athlete and to run our offense, that is a prerequisite," he added. "CJ is very coachable and he wants to get better. He's soaking up the finer elements of our offense and learning that he's not alone out there and he can trust his teammates. He also throws a pretty nice ball and has good instincts."
Winnell will be joined by running back Davy Jarrell, who took snaps under center last season in mop up duty. The Tide's fleet-footed catcher for the baseball team is not a prototypical sluggish backstop. He can motor.
"We just felt that Davy would be most productive as a back and you always want to put your guys in a position to be the best they can be and help the team as a whole," Showalter said. "We look for great things from him. There is no doubt about that."
Sherman went 9-1 in the regular season last year and fell at Midland Trail in the Class A quarterfinals, their third straight trip to the playoffs - a school record.
The maroon and gold will also see production from tight end/outside linebacker Clay Hudson.
"Clay is a four-year starter and understands what we expect from him," Showalter added. "He is unselfish and comes in and works hard. He's a leader and his teammates respect him."
Hudson, a CVN All-County selection said he's been a big part of the offense in early practices.
"I've gotten a lot of reps this year," he said. "Hopefully that will show on Friday nights. This team has good charisma. Everybody thinks we're going to be down and that just motivates us. We're not down and we want to show that."
Junior center Hunter Bowling earned a mention for the Class A All-State squad as a sophomore along with a slot on the All-County team feels that his game has improved with off-season conditioning and workouts. He has made the position move from tackle to help the team fill a much needed hole in the offensive front.
"I've made an effort to get stronger and work on my footwork," he said. "I have goals for myself as far as production goes but that is really team goals. If it helps the team, its a team goal."
Showalter said that the center on Sherman's team has as much responsibility as any other position.
"We expect a lot out of our center and Hunter knew last year that he was going to be our guy this season," he said. "He facilitates communication and the other linemen know that how he says to block something is how they're going to block it on that particular play. He has to be more focused in practice than anyone else, he has to watch more film and if we don't block something correctly, its on him. Moving Hunter there is helping us transition into a whole new offensive line and he's doing a fantastic job."
At 6 foot, 265 pounds, Bowling is athletic and moves well, according to his coach. He expects bowling to continue to progress and lead a young group
Carter Dunfee will see touches in the backfield.
"Carter was a valuable asset for us while we had some injuries last year and we found ourselves with a lack of depth at running back," Showalter added. "He did good work for us last year, particularly in the first half of the season last year and he'll be a two-way starter for us this year."
Showalter said that the team's success over the last three years has allowed the squad to buy into the culture that he and his staff are implementing.
"They've seen it in real time," he said. "What we've accomplished wasn't the result of one or two days worth of work. It was the result of years of work. These guys have to realize that they have to do that same work and make the same sacrifices to be successful."
The coach, who served as a player and assistant under retired Tide skipper JD Fairchild said that while Sherman relied on Hensley a lot for the last three seasons, his offensive philosophy won't change but he and Offensive Coordinator Dustin Trail will be adding a few wrinkles to the set to enhance the skills of his backfield.
"We are still a split back veer team," he said. "We've been doing this for four years and that offense gives us advantages.We do it well and it gives us an advantage every single week. When teams watch us on film, the chances are it will be the first time they prepare for a triple option offense all season long. It is a whole new level of preparation. It makes us a matchup problem for a lot of people. We like the offensive line matchups. On the offensive line, you eliminate a lot of one-on-one matchups and you get good angles and good double team opportunities."
Along with Trail, Kevin Buzzard coaches offensive and defensive line and special teams, Willis Hensley coaches running backs , secondary and special teams. Tom Hensley helps with wide receivers and defensive line. Leland Salmon coaches running backs and linebackers. Former Tide gridder Nick Gurski was added to the staff this season and he will be working with wide receivers and the secondary. Brian Dickens and Josh Perdue serve as trainers and Dustin Gillespie, Jacob Woodrum and Chirs Montgomery handle stats. Brandon Merritt will manage film for the team.
"I think our goal this year is to put up a winning record and I think we'll surprise some people because we aren't expected to win many games," the coach summarized. "If I was on the outside looking in, I'd think the same thing. The kids we have have worked very hard and they practiced against that talent we've had. We have more talewnt here than people think we do. If you post a winning record and if you make the playoffs, you've got a shot and we want that shot every single year."
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or at 304-307-2402.
2019 Sherman High School
Aug. 30: Clay County, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 13: Richwood, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 20: Buffalo, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 27: Ravenswood, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 5: at East Hardy, 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 12: OPEN DATE
Oct. 18: at Van, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 25: Greenbrier West, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 1: at South Harrison, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 8: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
2019 Sherman High School Football Roster
No. Name Pos Yr
1 Clay Hudson TE/LB 12
2 T.J. Hager QB/RB/DB 9
3 Ridge Anderson WR/DB 12
4 C.J. Winnell QB/RB/DB 10
5 Colby Buzzard WR/DB 10
7 Tucker Ring WR/DB 10
10 Dakota Clendenin RB/LB 9
18 Austin Davies WR/DB 10
21 Davy Jarrell QB/RB/DB 11
22 Carter Dunfee RB/LB 11
23 Saun Edie RB/LB 11
27 Daniel Green RB/LB 10
43 Eli Edie RB/LB 12
50 Alan Javins OL/DL 11
51 Jonathon Atkins OL/LB 12
52 Hunter Bowling OL/DL 11
53 James Thompson OL/DL 12
56 Alexious King OL/DL 9
58 Seth Ward OL/LB 10
62 Brad Craze OL/DL 10
65 Travis Cooper OL/DL 10
69 Gage Wilson OL/DL 9
72 Billy Mullins OL/DL 11
76 Brennan Duncan OL/DL 11
81 Isaiah Stewart WR/DB 10
88 Trey Belcher WR/DB 12