Gonzales Cannon On-Line

Comanches back home in playoffs
by Cedric Inglehart
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Gonzales Cannon Article   |   Shiner Comanche Football   |   Shiner Home Page

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SHINER -- For the 15th year in a row, the Shiner Comanches will be spending time in November preparing to do battle in the UIL football playoffs.

This season has been an almost perfect parallel to 2010, when the Comanches shook off a 1-5 start and rode a hot winning streak into the postseason. This year, Shiner had a non-district record of 2-3 before winning three of their last four games to qualify.

"It’s been so similar to last year it’s unreal," said Shiner head coach Steve Cerny. "The main thing is we had to keep our kids’ confidence up so we could get to where we needed to be. We had some new faces out there that had to learn what it was like to play on Friday nights, but I have to give the credit to my coaching staff for what they did and obviously to the kids for working so hard to be where we are now."

The Comanches (5-5, 3-1) are hoping to improve on last year’s playoff run into the regional round, where they lost last season to Mason 28-21. Standing in their way are the Kenedy Lions, who earned a third place finish in District 16-1A Division I with an overall mark of 6-4 and 1-2 in district. Kenedy returns 14 lettermen from a squad that advanced to the bi-district round in 2010.

"They’re greatly improved over last year," Cerny said. "Coach (Lin) Havron has really done a great job of putting his system in. They’re a team much like us, who is really starting to jell at the right time. It’s going to be a good game."

The Lions are entering the game on the heels of a 28-14 loss to Ben Bolt, a team the Comanches defeated 27-23 on Sept. 30 - the Badgers’ only loss of the season. Kenedy is averaging 303.8 yards per game on offense and scoring at a clip of 25.4 per points per game.

Quarterback Rollie Zepeda, last season’s District 16-1A District I Newcomer of the Year, has improved on last year’s production by posting 1,377 yards and 20 touchdowns on 62.7 percent passing.

"He does a good job and he has a great arm," Cerny said. "He also scrambles really well, so we have to make sure we do a good job of containing him and taking him out of his comfort zone."

Running backs Deon Mayberry (601 yards, 6.53 yards per carry, 6 TDs) and Sammy Martinez (450-6.25- 4) have spearheaded an above-average rushing attack, but the Lions primarily rely on Zepeda to move the ball via their spread attack and regularly getting the ball to lead receiver Tristan Mejia, who has 61 catches for 615 yards and 12 scores.

The Lions run a 3-3 stack on defense, which leaves them with more than enough men in the box to contend with Shiner’s traditional Veer offense. The Comanches are averaging over 248 yards rushing per game led by quarterback Jacob Stafford (634 yards, 13 TDs) and the versatile Evel Jones (7.56 yards per carry, 12.0 yards per catch, 12 total TDs), who rank first and second in district scoring.

"Kenedy really attacks you and tries to force you into making mistakes," Cerny said. "They do a good job of blitzing, but we’re hoping we can take advantage of it with our option offense."

After getting off to a slow start this year, the Comanche running game has gotten stronger with each passing week. Cerny credits the revival to the improved play of Shiner’s offensive line, which includes LG Jake Jalufka, RG Donovan Mardis, RT Derek Duke, LT Sabino Rodriquez and C Cole Strauss.

"Our offensive line is a lot more experienced this year," said Cerny. "There’s no substitute for experience. Not only have these guys been in big games before, but they’re smart enough to pick up on all of the blocking assignments. I’m hoping they are going to be the ones who make a difference in the playoffs."

The bi-district playoff game will kickoff Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Eschenburg Stadium in Floresville.

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