SHINER -- Shiner doesn’t have a running back who has rushed for 800 yards, doesn’t have a quarterback who has thrown for 500 yards and doesn’t have a receiver with more than 13 catches.
But what the Comanches (7-3) do have is a seven-game winning streak as they enter the Class 1A, Division I bi-district playoffs against Ben Bolt (4-6) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Woodsboro.
"We’re playing as well as we have all year," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "We always want to peak now. We’ve been trying to get to where we need to be so we can match up when we play someone big and strong."
The Comanches’ lack of individual statistics has a lot to do with the way they rolled through District 31-1A play. Shiner won its six district games by a combined score of 333-29 and the starters rarely got much playing time in the second half.
"We’ve been playing well,"Cerny said. "We’ve gotten a lot stronger and quicker and we’ve stayed away from injuries. We’re just getting better at the things we do."
Shiner was ranked in the top five of virtually every state preseason poll but the Comanches started the season with losses to Class 2A Schulenburg, Brazos Consolidated and East Bernard before defeating Thrall, the first Class 1A team it played.
"The Thrall game was the turning point for us," Cerny said of the 13-3 win. "We didn’t play that well but it was big confidence builder. I think the coaches and the players were trying too hard because the expectations were so high. I think we were all a little edgy but things have been better since."
"Going 0-3 really opened our eyes," agreed center Kody Selzer. "There was a lot of pressure on us. But we realized that’s not how it was supposed to be. Our coaches told us those teams were capable of beating us and we started working our way up each week."
The Comanches began to eliminate mistakes in their veer offense and returned to usual form on defense, finishing the season allowing an average of 174.6 yards per game.
"It took us a while to figure out what schemes are going to work," Cerny said. "We’re not doing anything different. It’s just that we do some things better than others and it took a while for us to figure out what to do."
Shiner quarterback Kyle Condel has returned from a concussion he suffered in the season opener against Schulenburg to rush for 759 yards and 12 touchdowns and pass for 451 yards and five touchdowns. Running back D.J. Pustka has rushed for 745 yards and eight touchdowns and running back Cody Franke has rushed 498 yards and 12 touchdowns has 204 receiving yards and one touchdown.
"Our guys don’t have the numbers but they know it’s not about that," Cerny said. "Besides, what we look at is yards per carry. The good thing is we’re more balanced than we’ve ever been."
Shiner is also benefitting from the playoff experience a number of starters gained last year when a slew of injuries forced them into action during the Comanches’ run to the quarterfinals.
"We just have so many more experienced players this season," linebacker Ethan Darilek said. "We had a lot of players who had to play last season. We’ve got a real good line, real experienced linebackers and a pretty good secondary with a lot of guys who have played there before. Our defense has really stepped up."
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.