SHINER -- Billy Turek has been at Shiner for over two decades as an assistant and the head coach, but he could do something this season he's never done before.
Turek is considering starting a freshman at quarterback.
Frank Tilley/Advocate Photo Editor The Shiner Comanches will try to get the ball into the hands of running back-wide receiver Bryan Franklin as much as possible this season.
"As far as I know, Shiner has never had a freshman start at quarterback," Turek said. "Not even Gilbert (Price, who led Shiner to the 1986 Class 2A state championship) started at quarterback as a freshman."
Even if freshman Chris Baer doesn't win the starting job, the other likely starter at quarterback is Garet Pustka, a sophomore.
"They're just young," Turek said of his quarterbacks. "They're both going to be good quarterbacks. We've just got to get them experience and get them ready for district."
To take some of the pressure off his young quarterbacks, Turek is considering making another move neither he, nor Calvin Tucker, his predecessor, ever tried.
Shiner may on occasion abandon its traditional veer offense for the wishbone.
"I figure it's been 25 years, so it might as well be the wishbone," Turek said. "What we're trying to do is take some pressure off our young quarterbacks. The split-back veer puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback. We want to take that pressure off of the quarterback."
Another reason Turek is considering the wishbone is Shiner's depth at running back.
Eric Murphy re-turns from last year's team. He will be joined by Adron Price, who played noseguard last season, and Steven Evans, Cleve Murphy and Kendall Murphy.
"We have five or six good backs," Turek said. "They are different than what we're used to having around here.
We've got bigger backs. We won't have the quicker backs we usually have. We're going to put them in there and see which way they're going to run."
Whatever offense they run, the Comanches will try to get the ball into the hands of Bryan Franklin, who could line up at running back or in the slot. Devin Carroll is another option at split end.
The offensive line will be rebuilt around tackle Shawn Flores. Likely starters include Rudy Moreno at center and Jeremy Parr and Derek Krause at guard.
If Shiner struggles early in the season on offense, Turek will lean heavily on the defense, which returns six starters.
"We better play pretty good defense," Turek said. "It could take us a while to get going on offense. If we can just hang in there, we can get going."
Flores, who is expected to be the only player to start on both offense and defense, will anchor the defensive line at end. Turek is also counting on newcomers Robbie Pavelka at tackle and Jeremy Burchell at end.
Adam Dawson and Jason Caka return at linebacker and Kelsey Pohler and Josh Smith are back in the secondary.
"We think our defensive line will be pretty good," Turek said. "Our defense doesn't have the lightning speed that we've had in the past, but we'll be pretty strong once we get going." Shiner went undefeated during the regular season in its first year in Class 1A last season and advanced to the Region IV final.
The Comanches are expected to do well again this season and are ranked as high as No. 3 in some preseason polls.
"The thing we found out last year is we could match up depth-wise with these teams," Turek said of competing in Class 1A. "If we can get this team going and get lucky, we can go places."
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.
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