Shiner's ability to overcome a slew of injuries and reach the quarterfinal round of the Class 1A, Division I football playoffs last season was an impressive feat.
The Comanches' success last year bodes well for this season with eight starters returning on offense and five on defense.
"We've got quite a few kids coming back," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "The teams who saw us play with all the injuries we had last season know we played well."
Shiner was impressive last season and has enough players returning this season to earn a No. 2 ranking in Dave Campbell's Texas Football magazine's Class 1A preseason poll.
Shiner is one of six Advocate-area teams ranked in the top 25 by the magazine, which is scheduled to go on sale today. Refugio is ranked No. 4 in the Class 2A poll, followed by Rice Consolidated at No. 13 and Schulenburg at No. 19. Beeville is ranked No. 17 in the Class 4A poll and Cuero is ranked No. 22 in the Class 3A poll.
Shiner's preseason ranking is the highest Cerny can recall and that includes the 2003 season when the Comanches advanced to the Class 1A state final and the 2004 season when they won the 1A state championship.
"We kind of had a feeling we'd be picked pretty high," Cerny said. "All the coaches I've seen have told me they were going to pick us high. We do have a lot of quickness but we don't have a lot of size. That's why we've been trying to get as strong as possible because our schedule is very, very tough."
Shiner went 1-3 against a non-district schedule that included three Class 2A playoff teams last season before overcoming a loss to Pettus and winning the District 31-1A championship.
"You never know what's going to happen," Cerny said. "There's no predicting stuff like injuries. You have to be prepared for the unexpected and have a little bit of luck. It should be a good challenge for us. We know the ranking doesn't mean anything. But I'd rather be ranked up high than low."
Refugio returns eight starters on offense and defense from last year's team that won the District 31-2A championship and advanced to the Division II regional playoffs. First-year head coach Jason Herring was not too surprised to learn of the Bobcats' high ranking.
"Not with the tradition here and the amount of kids coming back," said Herring, who took over at Refugio late in April. "You have the tradition and that name that is known around the state. I think that goes with the territory. I think the expectations are high."
Herring used the three weeks before school ended to become familiar with his players and to start installing his offense.
"The kids have been unbelievable," Herring said. "The program was in great shape and it was a really easy job to take over. The kids do whatever I ask. They seem hungry and that excites me a little bit."
Chris Soza is preparing to begin his fourth season and Beeville and is happy to see the Trojans receive statewide recognition.
"It's a tribute to our kids and the work they've done to get our program where it is today," Soza said. "It shows we're headed in the right direction."
Soza is cautiously optimistic about the upcoming season.
"We'll be good if we can stay healthy," he said. "We're not very deep."
Cuero, which has won 38 consecutive regular-season games, dropped to No. 22 this season after being ranked No. 2 in last season's preseason poll and No. 1 in the 2005 preseason poll.
"We lost a lot of experienced and skilled players," Cuero coach Mark Reeve said.
Texas Football's No. 1 teams in the preseason polls are Southlake Carroll in Class 5A, Copperas Cove in Class 4A, Giddings in Class 3A, Mart in Class 2A and Alto in Class 1A.
Palacios linebacker Aaron Buckley was the only area player named to the magazine's Super Team. Buckley, a 6-foot-1, 225-pound senior who has committed to Texas A&M, was chosen on the first-team defense.
Buckley was also picked as one of the top 20 linebackers in the magazine's list of the top 300 seniors in Texas. Rice Consolidated's Taylor Cook, who has committed to the University of Miami, was selected as one of the top 20 quarterbacks.
Refugio running back Carl Swain, Bay City offensive lineman Mitch Kimberling and Cuero defensive lineman Kaeron Johnson were included in the best of the rest of the top 300 seniors in the state.
Cuero junior offensive lineman Desmond Patton was selected as one of the magazine's top underclassmen in the state.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.