Reaching the state title game is the ultimate goal for any private or public high school football team in the state of Texas.
The Shiner Comanches will play in the state championship game for the first time since 2004.
Shiner is set to play Stamford at 10 a.m. Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The Comanches advanced to Arlington after routing Mart 49-22 last week in the state semifinal game at Round Rock Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex.
It was the fourth overall time Shiner has appeared in the state title game. The program has two state championships, 1986 and 2004, with a runner up in 2003.
"It would be great if we could add another title to our tradition. That is our goal right now," Shiner head coach Steven Cerny said at practice on Monday. "We do not want to be satisfied just by making it to state and saying good enough. We want to win it."
"This group has worked hard all year and I expect them to do the same this week." Cerny described the season as a miracle.
"We were not picked to do very much. We struggled through the district, getting second. You could see the improvement each and every week," he said. "If you stay with the system, you get the opportunity to have lots of success. This group worked hard from this beginning and we did get some breaks. You have to have a couple of those to have a chance at winning it all."
Cerny said his team definitely peaked at the right time.
For every Shiner player, reaching the state title game is what they strive for when they starting putting on the pads during youth or junior high football, especially for the seniors.
"It is turning out to become our dream," senior tight end-linebacker Brian Kloesel said."It is what all of us have wanted throughout our high school career. It is almost a surreal feeling."
"At the start of the season, we knew we were really going to have to work at it. Coach (Cerny) said to come together as a team and work hard. Now, at the end of the season, everything is coming together and we are starting to click at the right time."
"It has been a dream come true to make it this far," senior quarterback-linebacker Jacob Stafford said. "We have worked really hard and hit our stride in the playoffs. Could not be prouder of everyone. Just glad to be here. We have had a lot of highs and lows in this season."
The players recognize how precious having the chance to play for the state title is.
"Most guys do not get to play in state. I am glad we get the chance in our high school career," said running back-defensive back senior Marcus Coleman. "We need to work hard, play as a team and make sure we have fun."
"We will never forget this," Stafford said. "It is far as you can get and I hope everyone remembers this for the rest of their life.
Cerny said the team needs to remember the journey they went on to get this far.
Stafford said it is honor to play in an NFL stadium.
While the fans are very excited to having the team at state, the players will focus solely on winning the game.
"The enjoyment will hopefully be after the game with celebration of a state championship. Everyone else can enjoy it and we are the ones who have to take a business-like approach," Cerny said.