SETH- It’s no secret that the Sherman Tide’s 2021 success can be attributed to a run heavy offense.
The Tide, who have ran 470 plays on offense with 362 coming on the ground, are back in the Class A playoffs for the first time since 2018.
As a team, Sherman has rushed for 2,138 yards this season. Senior running backs Colby Buzzard and CJ Winnell and junior quarterback TJ Hager have combined to rush for 2,122 yards on 357 carries.
The backfield trio carried the Tide to a 6-4 regular season record and a tie for 11th in the final Class A rankings. The Tide lost out on tiebreakers and will be seeded 12th in the playoffs and travel to fifth-seed Mount View Friday night.
Winnell leads the team with 890 yards on 155 carries and nine touchdowns. He has also caught 14 balls for 107 yards and has 25 yards in kick returns to account for 1,022 all-purpose yards.
“He is just our work horse, and he is averaging almost six yards a carry,” Sherman coach Kevin Buzzard said. “He plays hard, works hard and when he is having a good game then we are having a good game.”
Winnell has three games of 100 yards or more and rushed for a season high 151 yards in a 35-18 win at River View on Sept. 10.
“When he is going, and everything goes through him he pounds it and beats it in there,” Buzzard said.
Colby Buzzard has accounted for 1,653 all-purpose yards for the Tide and is a threat to score anytime he touches the football. Colby has rushed for 689 yards on 105 carries, caught 19 balls for 290 yards and has returned 22 kicks for 669 yards and three touchdowns.
Colby rushed for 137 yards in a loss to Scott and followed that up with a 138-yard rushing performance and a pair of touchdowns in a victory at River View. In the Tide’s regular-season finale, he had four catches for 108 yards and one touchdown in a 48-34 victory over Wirt County.
“Colby missed half the year last year and has been a big help this year,” Kevin Buzzard said. “CJ can set there and pound it and pound it and you got some speed with Colby.”
Hager, the Tide’s starting quarterback, has thrown for 847 yards and 11 touchdowns. On the ground, Hager is the team’s third leading rusher with 533 yards and four touchdowns. In the Tide’s last game against Wirt County, he was 7-for-10 passing for 187 yards and three touchdowns, rushed for 88 yards on eight carries and one touchdown and returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
His best performance through the air came against Tug Valley on Sept. 3 when he completed 10-of-18 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He also added 53 yards on the ground on 13 attempts in a 38-14 victory over the Panthers.
“He has stepped up in practice and it showed last week against Wirt County,” Kevin Buzzard said. “It was a good bounce back from Meadow Bridge.”
Special teams has also been a big factor for the Tide this season as they have returned four kickoffs for touchdowns with Colby returning three and Hager one. Colby handles all kicking duties for the Tide. He averages 35.5 yards per kickoff and has one touchback on the season and is averaging 29.8 yards per punt with a long of 41 yards.
“Special teams have been huge for us this year,” Kevin Buzzard said. “They have really stepped it up this year and they work hard.”