SETH — Sherman High football coach Michael Showalter believes that his squad is poised to make a statement in 2020 and get back to what was playoff football from 2016 through 2018 for the Tide.
“Of course, at this point in the game if you don’t feel confident in your team you have some problems,” he said. “In early August its always sunshine and roses for everybody. We do feel good about our team and where we are in relation to where we were in August last season.”
In 2019, Sherman’s only victory came in the “Showdown for the Shove,” a rivalry game with Van High School that sees the victor house a coal shovel in their trophy case for the next year.
The Tide had moments last season where their running game shined but it was an adjustment for a community just getting used to having their own Class A contender in their back yard.
This year the side laces up the spikes to host Class AA Cardinal Conference member and cross-county foe Scott in another rivalry game that has been asleep for over a decade. Sherman leads the storied series 47-38-5.
“As soon as we told the kids about it they started getting excited for it,” Showalter said. “They know those guys, they go to vocational school with some of them so it is a real healthy thing to have our county schools playing in some capacity.”
The Tide has added some wrinkles to their veer offense. Senior dual-threat athlete Davy Jarrell returns under center for Sherman and junior CJ Winnell and sophomore TJ Hager will carry the ball again as a tandem.
Wideout spots will be manned by returners Alex Kirk and one of the teams most explosive layers in Colby Buzzard.
“Buzzard and Jarrell are two of our gym rats and it shows,” Showalter said. “Buzzard may be our strongest guy, pound for pound. He is our fastest guy, as well. Last year was his first year of playing a lot of football in his life. The last couple of games he really exploded. We are excited to see what kind of year he has. We’re going to get him the ball.”
Showalter talked about his quarterback.
“He’s a positive kid and he always makes somebody else’s day better,” he said. “He’s the ultimate team guy. He gives maximum effort and he does the little things. He may be one of the smallest guys out there but he brings so many things to the table that have nothing to do with size.”
He continued, “He does a multitude of things very well. He is also a smart player and picks things up quickly. He can learn new things on the fly. He’s just committed to team success. He can play virtually anywhere on the field.”
Showalter said that Winnell is their workhorse “between the tackles” runner for tough years. Hager and Buzzard will get their yards in space and in a variety of ways.
“Those are the three main guys we have to get the football to,” he said. “You could give the ball to Winnell 30 times and he’d want more. He’s a tough kid.”
Four of five offensive linemen return for the Tide, providing experience up front.
“There wasn’t a single part of the game we didn’t struggle at and we hope that line play will be a strength this year,” he said. “We don’t have to spend so much time on technique and communication as we did a year aga and that comes with experience. They are another year bigger and stronger.
Billy Mullins, Alan Javins, Hunter Bowling, Seth Ward return up front and stepping into right tackle will likely be junior Brad Craze, who started on defense a year ago.
“That position has competition so we’ll see but if we were to play today it would be Brad starting there,” he said.
The Tide’s power run and option offense will have some different looks this season.
“We want to run power and run option but in a different way,” Showalter said. We are going to spread the field even more and you’ll see us in the shotgun a lot. It will allow us to use a kid like Buzzard in different ways. We’ll throw the ball more than we have in recent years. You’ll see more RPO from us this year (run-pass option)”
Ricky Runion will serve as the new offensive coordinator (Sissonville and South Charleston).
Defensively, Sherman will continue their love for the 34 defense. Bowling and Buzzard return to lead the squad on that side of the ball. Bowling will move to outside linebacker for Sherman which Showalter notes is the hub of the 34 defense.
“He’ll play more down like a defensive end and Buzzard will be at strong safety,” he added.
Kirk will man a corner position. Carter Dunfee returns and can play either linebacker position for Sherman. Winnell will move back to middle linebacker from corner, where he played late last season due to the personnel needs of the team.
Buzzard will serve as punter again this season and the Tide hasn’t decided whether they’ll kick extra points or be a 2-point conversion team.
“We feel like we can compete and we’re excited about the changes we’ve made in our offense,” Showalter said. “To only win one game last year was a shock to our program. The biggest eye opener for these guys was they realized how hard it is to be a good team. Winning football games is hard. I think it clicked for them. They watched those playoff teams from the sidelines as young guys. Now it is their turn and it is their moment and I think it has clicked for them what a commitment that is.”
Assistant Coaches include; Ricky Runion, Kevin Buzzard, Willis Hensley, Tom Hensley, Leland Salmon, Will Hensley and Brian Guthrie.
Sherman will kick off their season with a bye week then they host Tug Valley at Zontini Field on Sept. 4.
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at email@example.com or at 304-307-2401.