SHINER -- Shiner will enter District 27-1A play with a minus-7 turnover ratio and a 4-0 record.
Shiner nose guard Justin Weise is part of a defensive unit that has helped the Comanches to a 4-0 record and a No. 8 ranking in the state Class 1A poll despite a negative turnover ratio. photo by T.C. Baker, Advocate Staff Photographer
The Comanches have lost 11 fumbles and had two passes intercepted, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting off to their best start since winning the state championship in 2004 and beating one Class 3A and three Class 2A teams in the process.
Shiner goes into its bye week ranked No. 8 in the state thanks in a large part to the play of its defense.
"The defense has had to come up time and again and make big stops and they’ve done it," Shiner head coach Steven Cerny said. "We’ve definitely put them in some tough situations because of our turnovers."
Shiner has seven underclassmen starting on defense, but has limited opponents to an average of 152.5 yards per game and yielded a total of 35 points.
"I knew we were going to be good because our front four was experienced," Shiner defensive coordinator Billy Turek said. "Our front four is probably our strength. They do a good job of taking the double teams and our linebackers make the tackles. The linebackers are not that big, but they go to the ball. They attack and they’re pretty quick. In our secondary, we have four smart kids who work hard."
The Comanches start two sophomores and a junior at linebacker, but they have made a quick adjustment after playing on the junior varsity last season.
"There are bigger guys and they’re a lot faster," said sophomore Brady Beal, who had 10 tackles in last Friday’s 29-7 win over Palacios. "I had to get used to it at first. I was a little intimidated and now I’m getting used to it."
"I had to get used of going those four quarters," added junior Gabe McAfee, who had six tackles against Palacios. "The front line has really helped us. They have a lot of experience and keep the linemen off of us."
"We have a good front four," agreed sophomore Joey Gamez, who led the team with 15 tackles against Palacios. "They’re big and they get after it. We’re not the biggest linebackers, but our speed gives us an advantage. The secondary holds its ground. We just work well as a team."
The Comanches have given the ball away, but they’ve gotten it back by intercepting four passes and recovering two fumbles.
"We rely on our quickness and attack people," Turek said. "We’re probably not a real physical defense, but we attack people and get after them. Probably our strength is our quickness."
The Shiner defenders know they can rely on Turek to put them in the right position. The Comanches have a tradition of playing outstanding defense under Turek, who was the defensive coordinator for their 1986 and 2004 state championship teams.
"Coach Turek has the experience and he knows how to work the players," junior nose guard Justin Wiese said. "He knows how to get them to work harder. I respect him a lot. He’s been here for so long, I know he knows what he’s doing."
Turek is proud of what the defense has accomplished, but expects it to get better.
"We’ve always stressed defense even all the way back when (coach Calvin) Tucker was here," Turek said. "This bunch has a chance. They’ve got a ways to go. I’ve got to get them a little more physical. If they do that, they’ve got a chance to be pretty good."
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.