Little buzz for Hornets’ big men

Del Oro grads Heath, Sherman do dirty work for much-improved Sacramento State
By: Ray Hacke Journal Sports Writer
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SACRAMENTO — Though they usually play on opposite sides of the football, their jobs are essentially the same — paving the way for teammates to make big plays. Yet unglamorous though that duty may seem, former Del Oro High teammates Brian Heath and Bill Sherman do it with pride. Don’t think their position coaches at Sacramento State haven’t noticed. Heath and Sherman, both juniors, will take the field for the Hornets at 2:05 p.m. Saturday in the annual Causeway Classic against UC Davis at Davis’ Aggie Stadium. Heath is a tight end used primarily as a blocker in Sac State’s offensive schemes. That explains why Heath only has two catches totaling 16 yards in nine games this season. Still, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Heath makes an impact for the Hornets in ways not measured in stats, according to Sac State tight ends coach Richard Sanchez. “He’s not the biggest or the strongest guy on the field week in and week out, but he does everything right,” Sanchez said. “He wins a lot of mismatches because of his technique – his hand placement, his footwork and hitting his landmarks. He focuses on doing everything correct.” Jon Osterhout, Sac State’s defensive line coach, can say many of the same things about the 6-3, 280-pound Sherman, who often has to block two players at once in his role as the Hornets’ nose guard. “That’s the nature of the beast at the interior nose guard position,” Osterhout said. “He gets quite a few double-teams his way from the other team’s center and guard, and he takes great pride in splitting them. He gives a lot of freedom to our All-America linebacker (senior Cyrus Mulitalo) to run around and make plays.” “I had a good game if Cyrus had a good game,” Sherman said. Sherman, who has just 13 tackles this season (four solo, nine assisted), said he doesn’t mind if his success helps a teammate earn the spotlight. “I’ve been doing it since high school,” he said. “I’m accustomed to it. I don’t need to make big plays to feel that I’ve contributed.” Heath echoed that sentiment. “Most blocking tight ends embrace the role,” he said. “It’s what the team asks of me. I’ve never been a selfish type. “I get to touch the ball enough when I snap it.” On special teams, Heath serves as the Hornets’ long snapper, a role he has held since he was a freshman. “He’s had one bad snap in three years,” said Sanchez, who is also Sac State’s special teams coordinator. “One of the things I noticed when he was a true freshman coming in is that his snap time was unbelievable. He got it back there in 0.8 seconds, which is amazing for a freshman.” Sherman has played a big role on special teams this season as well. Last Saturday he blocked a kick against Eastern Washington. He’s also paved the way for the teammate who lines up next to him, sophomore defensive tackle Christian Clark, to block three more kicks, and he lines up next to Heath at left guard on Sac State’s field-goal unit. In leaving Del Oro for Sacramento State, Heath and Sherman left a program that won consistently — the Golden Eagles won the Sac-Joaquin Section title in 2005, their senior season — to one that managed just seven wins in their first two seasons. This season, the Hornets are 4-5 and can boast a winning record if they win two of their last three games. First, though, they have to defeat the Aggies, whom they haven’t beaten since 1999. “Things are changing around here,” Sherman said. “It should be awesome in the years to come.” “It’s hard to stay on track and keep working (when the wins aren’t coming),” Heath said. “It’s easy to give up. I’m proud to be around a bunch of guys who are willing to keep working and stick to it. It’s a blessing to be around guys like that.”