SHINER - The Shiner Comanches began preseason football workouts by reporting to the same stadium, getting dressed in the same locker room and practicing on the same field as they have throughout their high school careers.
They did the same conditioning drills, ran the same offense and defense and worked under the same coaches.
Steven Cerny has taken over as head coach at Shiner after 14 years as an assistant coach, including the last seven as offensive coordinator.
Greg McReynolds/Advocate Staff Photographer
The only difference, which was barely noticeable, was the person shouting instructions.
"I'm excited," said Steve Cerny, who led Shiner to the Class 1A state baseball championship before taking over as athletics director and head football coach during the summer. "But it doesn't feel much different than the past seven years. We're not changing responsibilities. We're going to do exactly what we've been doing."
Cerny was a football assistant for 14 years and the offensive coordinator for the past seven years before Billy Turek retired after last season. Cerny will retain his duties as head baseball coach.
Turek, who has had trouble recovering from an operation on his left knee, is still coaching as a volunteer assistant, although Reggie Morgan has taken over as defensive coordinator.
"It will be Reggie's style, but it will still be the same 4-3," Cerny said of the defense. "The best thing to come out of this is we didn't have to change. That's good for the kids."
Cerny would prefer to see at least one reversal from last season. The Comanches lost six starters to injury during the season and were forced to make a number of position changes in their starting lineup. "Towards the end of the year, we had to put a lot of sophomores on the field, especially in the playoff games," Cerny said. "As juniors, we're counting on them to step up. They should at least be used to it from last year."
SHINER COMANCHES AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Steven Cerny, first year.
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 8-4 overall, 4-1 in District 30-1A.
RETURNING LETTERMEN: 19
RETURNING STARTERS: 13 (6 offensive, 7 defensive).
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2001, lost to Burkeville in regionals, 38-22.
STRENGTH: Offensive and defensive lines.
WEAKNESS: Depth in skill positions.
Shiner's strength this season will be on the offensive and defensive lines. "We have strength and size," Cerny said. "We may not have the 250-pound types, but we have kids who are over 200 pounds." Center Brady Strauss, guard Jeremy Parr and tackle Rudy Moreno are back on the offensive line along with Desmond Brooks, Todd Wenske and Scott Shimek, who have experience at tight end.
Robbie Pavelka and Jeremy Burchell return at defensive tackle and Adron Price and Josh Burchell are back at defensive end. Shiner should also be solid at linebacker with the return of Chris Baer, Steven Evans and Ryan Spann.
"The thing that concerns me is we don't have much depth at the skill positions," Cerny said. "If we just had more depth at the skill positions, I'd feel really good."
Cerny does feel comfortable with Shiner's depth at quarterback. Starter Garet Pustka returns and Baer, free safety R.J. Lester and flanker/cornerback Quentin Wright are capable reserves.
"Garet's a good veer quarterback," Cerny said of the 5-foot-6, 152- pound Pustka. "He can kind of hide in there and it's tough to pick him up. That's the good thing about our offense. You don't have to have a tall quarterback to survive."
Shiner will need running backs Baer and Evans to remain healthy to survive a pre-district schedule that includes five Class 2A opponents before beginning District 30-lA competition.
2002 SHINER COMANCHE FOOTBALLDate Time Team Last Year 8/30 7:30 at Poth DNP 9/6 7:30 at Schulenburg 35-21 9/13 7:30 Boling DNP 9/20 7:30 Weimar 2-6 10/4 7:30 at Nixon-Smiley DNP 10/11 7:30 * Charlotte 30-14 10/18 7:30 * at Louise DNP 10/25 7:30 * Runge 58-7 11/1 7:30 * Falls City 18-23 11/8 7:30 * at Flatonia DNP * District 30-1A game CLICK HERE FOR TEAM ROSTER
"We've got to get through our pre-district schedule and we've got to improve," Cerny said. "We can't worry that much about wins and losses. We've got to see that kind of quickness because you can't practice quickness."
Shiner ran into more quickness than it could handle in last season's regional playoff loss to eventual state champion Burkeville.
But the Burkeville loss may have been the reason for the biggest change the Comanches' have experienced from last year.
"We had a lot more kids lifting this summer. Our numbers were really good," said Spann, one of 11 seniors on this year's team. "I have a feeling it will be different this season."