Steven Cerny has been coaching long enough to know preseason polls mean nothing but he admits Shiner might have been pressing after being ranked No. 3 in Class 1A.
"I think that was definitely true against Schulenburg," Cerny said of a season- opening 32-12 loss. "Against Brazos (Consolidated) fumbles cost us. We played better as a team against East Bernard. It was our best game offensively but two fumbles hurt us."
Losses to Schulenburg, Brazos Consolidated and East Bernard have dropped Shiner from the rankings but Cerny has reminded his team it was in the same position last season before winning the District 31-1A championship and advancing to the Division I quarterfinals.
"We're starting to get there and our expectations are still high despite starting 0-3," Cerny said. "We've played three good (Class) 2A ballclubs and we have to remember that. They expose your mistakes and expose your weaknesses and because of that we should not get caught off guard in district."
Quarterback Kyle Condel played in Shiner's 35-20 loss to East Bernard after suffering a concussion against Schulenburg and missing the Brazos Consolidated game. But Shiner was without linebacker Ethan Darilek, who has mononucleosis and is out indefinitely.
"We played better on offense," Cerny said of the East Bernard game. "We moved Cody Franke to running back and Kyle threw the ball well. We had a couple of interceptions and a couple of fumbles. We had a fumble on a speed option when we were down 14-7 that really hurt us but there are things we did a lot better."
Cerny knows the Comanches have to cut down on their turnovers to be successful.
"We're still making mistakes but they're not from lack of effort," Cerny said. "Against Brazos we had five fumbles and that shouldn't happen. Anytime you fumble, it shouldn't happen. We preach about it and if it happens, you're probably going to end up losing."
Cerny has seen signs of progress from the Shiner defense even though it was victimized for some big plays against East Bernard.
"We played great against Brazos," Cerny said. "We had some blown assignments against East Bernard that led to some 30- and 40-yard runs. At times we've played well and at times we've broken down. We're just not giving a consistent performance play by play. There are no excuses. We just have to get better."
Shiner's fortunes began to change last season after it beat Thrall 17-0 and opened district with a 15-14 win over Louise. Cerny has no doubt the Comanches can rebound this season.
"We're never going to panic," Cerny said. "We talk about what needs to be corrected so we don't make the same mistakes again. This week is very big for us. I know we're going to play hard and if we do the right things, we should be ready for Louise."
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.