Bearcats' mindset will be hard to predict with all the distractions

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Sept. 20, 2007 - Predicting the mindset of the Sherman Bearcats tomorrow night will be a tough thing to do.

The Bearcats are coming off their first loss of the season, 28-27 to Terrell, are hosting Sulphur Springs for homecoming, and have had their head coach hospitalized most of the week with a heart attack.

It's hard to tell if they will be distracted by all that is going on or if they will have a "Win one for the Gipper" mentality when the game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bearcat Stadium.

Sherman head coach Drew Young checked himself into a hospital on Sunday with chest pains. He was diagnosed with 99 percent arterial blockage, according to a report in the Sherman newspaper. He was scheduled to be out yesterday and could be on the sidelines on Friday.

SSHS head coach Greg Owens said the Wildcats will need to be focused on their assignments and not on Sherman's state of mind.

"Everything that is going on probably gives them a little bit different mindset," Owens said. "I don't know what mindset they'll have, but I know we've got to be prepared going into a hostile environment. We've got to follow our game plans and execute."

No. 1 on the defensive list - as it has been all year - is to stop the run. The Wildcats will try to slow down junior running back Waymon James, who is averaging 183 yards rushing per game and over 10 yards per carry this season (51 carries for 550 yards).

"No. 21 is going to carry the rock," Owens said of James. "The thing with him is we can't let him get hot early. It's one of those deals like last week against Denison, when we kept their running back in check. We'd obviously like to have a game like last week, but the thing with him is to keep him in check and not let him get his chili hot."

In last week's 56-25 victory over Denison, the Wildcats (2-1) allowed the Yellowjackets' talented running back, D.J. Jones, to score just one TD.

Sherman is led by a physical offensive line, and the Bearcats will run the ball more than throw it, especially if senior quarterback Matt Rome is still out with a sprained knee suffered two weeks ago. Sophomore Garrett Powell started last week against Terrell and alternated with sophomore Madison Carter. They combined to complete 10-of-18 passes for 134 yards.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, would like to run the ball more to keep Sherman's athletic defense off balance. Owens said the Bearcats like to use their speed to avoid blocks and run to the football.

It all starts with their two defensive ends: 6-7 Jeremy Gray who has verbally committed to Oklahoma State, and Carey Gatewood.

"It's an attacking, athletic defense," Owens said. "I don't want to say they're not real physical, but they'd rather run around you. We've not seen a lot of linebackers that are that active. So, it may give us some headaches we don't know about yet in terms of the crossing routes and curls and things like that. So, we've got to do a good job of mixing in the run and the pass."

SSHS junior quarterback Tyrick Rollison has already thrown for 1,111 yards and nine TDs this season. Four different receivers have caught at least 14 passes each. The running game has generated 347 yards and six touchdowns.

"We'd like to do some more running game this week and balance it out just a little," Owens said. "But, we're going to continue to take what the defense gives us."

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