Shiner and Ganado spent the past week watching each other on tape and the last two seasons testing each other in person.
No. 7 Shiner (5-0, 1-0) and Ganado (4-1, 1-0) had no idea the University Interscholastic League’s reclassification and realignment would send them to District 27-1A.
They are thankful for the opportunity to have scrimmaged each other before meeting today at 7:30 p.m. in Ganado with at least a share of the district lead at stake.
"We’re familiar with each other," Ganado coach Mike Rabe said. "I know coach (Steven) Cerny and his staff have been together for a long time and they do a good job."
Shiner has gotten off to its best start since its 2004 state championship season. The Comanches defeated one Class 3A and three Class 2A teams before opening district play with a 36-15 win over Louise.
"We’ve made a big move, particularly with the offensive line," Cerny said. "They’ve been progressing each week. They’re starting to understand what we’re trying to do and accomplish with the veer. It just takes chemistry and learning how to communicate with the guy next to you."
Shiner has turned the ball over 15 times, but is still averaging over 325 yards and nearly 30 points per game. Quarterback Matthew Hibbs and running backs Josh Greathouse and Adam Kalich have combined to rush for 1,369 yards and 17 touchdowns.
"They’re big and they’ve got a lot of speed," Rabe said. "They’ve been running the veer for a long time so they do everything well. We’ve just got to be very, very disciplined. Everybody has got an assignment and you can’t make a mistake because that’s what that offense feeds on. You can play 90 percent right and make a mistake and that 10 percent gets you."
Ganado’s only loss this season was to Industrial. The Indians opened district play with a 30-6 win over Somerville.
"We played real well," Rabe said. "We’ve been getting better each week. Defensively, we’ve done really well. Our secondary is a lot better. We’ve got quite a few seniors on the defensive side of the ball. We’ve had some guys come in and take some spots and they’ve done a good job at it."
Ganado has also made progress offensively. Running back Kevin Smith has rushed for 736 yards and seven touchdowns and quarterback Donovan Foster has added 351 yards and three touchdowns.
"One thing we’re really concerned about is their back and quarterback," Cerny said. "They’re quick and very good in the open field. They do a good job of mixing it up. They’ll run out of the offset-I and the gun and get their skill guys deep in the backfield. We need to get to them before they get going."
Cerny hasn’t forgotten when Shiner last played Ganado in 1997 and took a 48-8 beating.
"They were tough and physical and they’re getting back to that again," Cerny said. "We really saw it last year already. They’ve turned the tide. Last year, they were in a tough, physical district and were just outmatched because of numbers."
Rabe has noticed the difference in numbers this season, but not in the level of competition.
"It’s still a tough go every week," Rabe said. "We’re going to have to play a good football game to compete with those guys."
NOTES: The game will be broadcast on KYKM, 92.5 FM in Yoakum and Hallettsville.
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.