It sounds like a plot cooked up by the writers at Friday Night Lights.
But the on and off field drama the SM East Lancers football team faces with just over a month before the first game of the season is absolutely real.
Coach Chip Sherman, the man who turned a floundering program around and led the Lancers to the best season in team history last year, was diagnosis with Stage III non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in May.
John Shrock, last year’s Sunflower League leader in yards, has graduated and is working to make the University of Colorado’s team as a walk on, leaving a huge question mark in the Lancers’ offense. After an open competition this summer, senior Dakota Collins has been named the starting quarterback for 2011.
It’s all made for what Sherman, in typically understated fashion, labels a “very busy summer,” as the coach works to fight his the disease while maintaining the training schedule he knows the team needs to keep if it’s going to measure up to the high expectations set last season.
Even as he’s been forced to set aside time to get his cancer treatments, Sherman has maintained his busy schedule. Lancer football players — from freshman to seniors — have met every morning this summer for weights and running.
“Having the trainings each morning is good — it keeps me going, taking the next step,” he said. “I’ve got to just keep moving forward.”
The hard work and perseverance appear to be paying off both on and off the field. Recent scans show Sherman’s tumor is shrinking.
“They tell me everything’s on track,” he said.
And Sherman thinks this year’s team has a lot of promise.
“We’ve got a lot of the pieces in place, and a lot of great chemistry,” Sherman said. “Now you just have to get into the season and see what you can do.”
The Lancers open their 2011 season Thursday, September 1 against SM Northwest at SM North Stadium.