Revenge won't be a motivator when Shiner faces Stratford today for the Class A state championship.
Stratford eliminated that potential method of inspiration last weekend with a 34-31 semifinal victory against Windthorst, which defeated Shiner last season in the state- title game.
Shiner running back Chris Baer
With the Trojans not in the state-championship picture this time around, one might think it would be disappointing to have to face a different ballclub.
"We really don't look at it that way," said Comanches coach Steven Cerny, whose team will face the Elks (13-2) at Memorial Stadium in Wichita Falls. "So long as we're there at the end, we don't care if it's Windthorst, Stratford or whoever. It doesn't matter at all."
Shiner's 2003 campaign ended on a bitter note. After quarterback Garet Pustka scored on a 3-yard run with 32 seconds remaining to pull the Comanches to within one point of Windthorst, Shiner missed the extra-point attempt that secured the victory and a second state championship for the Trojans.
The memory of defeat remained with Shiner players and coaches throughout the offseason and into this season, where the Comanches took out their frustration on the opposition. That aggravation intensified in district play, where Shiner posted three shutouts and allowed just 30 points in six games to capture the District 31-A championship.
"That's all they've talked about," Cerny said, "winning district and getting back to the title game. Fans, players, everyone."
The playoffs have provided much of the same dominance for the Comanches (15-0), who have outscored opponents 147-38 in notching five postseason victories. Their semifinal opponent, Big Sandy, was the lone squad to play within single digits of Shiner in the playoffs. Shiner trailed 17-14 with less than a minute to play but won 21-17.
In that victory, running back Chris Baer carried three defenders into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown that gave Shiner the lead with 25 seconds to play.
To Baer, it's all part of enjoying the journey to potential state championship glory.
"We're looking forward to having a good time," Baer said. "Every week is a new experience, and actually a reward. We've been shooting for this all year. Now we have to go out there and achieve our ultimate goal."