Preparation, effort key to Tigers’ victory over Sherman

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Preparation plus effort. That’s Texas High coach Gerry Stanford’s formula for winning.

And it paid off big time Friday night at Tiger Stadium in Grim Park, the Tigers igniting playoff hopes again with a 27-14 victory over Sherman that, at least temporarily, put Texas High in the favorite’s role for the fourth-place post-season berth.
“As far as effort, I think we flipped the switch from last week,” Stanford said after Caleb Arnold’s 50-yard interception return for a touchdown with 1:12 left in the game sealed the deal. “The difference was this week we had great Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday preparation days. As a coach, you thing those delays are going to pay off from an effort standpoint, and tonight it showed from the first snap of the game.”
Actually, it was the third snap when the Tigers gambled on 4th and 1 from their own 39-yard line, and Tracy Cooper bolted 61 yards for a touchdown, the first of two Tiger scored in less than four minutes.
“At that point (Cooper’s TD run) I felt we had a chance,” Stanford said. “That was a big confidence booster.”

Sherman captures its only lead

That confidence might have waned a bit when Sherman quarterback Tate Bethel threw his second touchdown pass of the game. It was a 50-yard play to Elijah Chapman, with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter. It also gave the Bearcats their first—and only—lead at 14-13.
But after stopping Sherman on fourth down for the fourth time in the game, the Tigers regained control when quarterback Rian Cellers, playing in his first District 7-5A, Division I game of the season, fired a slant pass to Kobe Webster, who turned it into a 49-yard touchdown with 10:45 left in the game.
Cooper, who finished with 131 yards on 18 carries, made perhaps his biggest contribution after a Sherman punt was killed at the Texas High 3-yard line. On first down, Cooper skirted right end, ran over one would-be tackler and bounced off two more for 21 yards to get the Tigers out of the hole.
“That was one of the biggest plays of the game,” Stanford said. “That effort showed a kid who really cares.”
It allowed Texas High to run the clock to the 2:33 mark before punting to the Bearcat 18. The defense, led by end Clayton Smith, stopped Sherman at its own 42 before Bethel’s pass under heavy pressure was picked off by Arnold and returned for a touchdown.

Cellers shines in return to lineup

After Cooper’s sudden score in the first quarter, the Tigers hit paydirt again after Sherman went three-and-out on its first possession. Runs of 22 yards by Cellers (12 carries, 68 yards) and 14 by Cooper set up Cellers’ 28-yard TD throw to Smith.
Three other Tiger threats were stopped on fourth down and two interceptions in the end zone by Aaron Ingram.
“I don’t think we let up at all after those early touchdowns,” Stanford said. “We kept driving the ball, but they hit three big plays that cost us, and those two turnovers probably shouldn’t have happened.”
Sherman was not fazed by its early deficit. Although Bethel, who completed 13 of 18 passes for 162 yards in the half, fumbled the ball away to Texas High’s Jaylen Green on the Bearcats’ next series, he led a 7-play, 71-yard scoring drive early in the second quarter, finishing it with a 29-yard screen pass to Benji Omayebu.
A 30-yard Cellers pass to Caden Miller put the Tigers in scoring position again. A first-down pass from the 14 was intercepted in the end zone by AIngram.
The Bearcats put together a drive that reached the Tiger 10, but the defense stiffened. After a holding penalty, a 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Texas High’s Marquaivus Fisher .

Sherman quarterback throws 48 passes

Cellers finished 11 of 15 for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Webster had four catches for 80 yard, and Miller two for 63. Texas High’s defense held Sherman to 45 yards rushing on 32 attempts, sacking Bethel seven times. The Bearcat quarterback completed 27 of 48 passes for 302 yards.
Texas High snapped a 3-game losing streak to improve to 4-4 overall and 1-3 in conference. The Tigers have an open date next week before traveling to Wylie East and finishing at home against West Mesquite, which could be for the fourth-place playoff berth.
Sherman 0 7 7 0 — 14
Texas High 13 0 0 14 — 27
TH-Tracy Cooper 61 run (Diego Mata-Chavez kick), 11:27
TH-Clayton Smith 28 pass from Rian Cellers (kick failed), 8:23
SHR-Beni Omayebu 29 pass from Tate Bethel (Jose Nandi kick), 9:15
SHR-Elijah Chapman 50 pass from Bethel (Nandi kick), 3:56
TH-Kobe Webster 49 pass from Cellers (Mata-Chavez kick), 10:45
TH-Caleb Arnold 50 interception return (Mata-Chavez kick), 1:12