SHINER -- When you're the defending state champion and you've reached the Class 1A state title game two years in a row, it can become difficult to figure out what you want to do for an encore.
Shiner coach Steven Cerny thinks his Comanches can compete for another Class 1A title despite returning only six starters. T.C. Baker, Advocate Staff Photographer
But for the Shiner Comanches, the answer is pretty simple - a return to the state title game with another championship trophy.
The only drawback may be the fact that the Comanches return just three starters on each side of the ball. But most District 31-1A coaches don't see that being a problem.
Even with Shiner having to replace its entire backfield except for quarterback Trey Curtis, the Comanches have the potential to be just has potent as they were last season when they rolled to a 16-0 record and claimed the state title with a 33-19 win over Stratford.
With 6-foot-5, 300-pound St. Paul transfer Will Pekar joining 6-7, 265-pound returning guard Dylan Hagens in the line, the Comanches should have plenty of beef up front to help the experienced backfield gain plenty of yardage.
"That's more size than we've had in a long time," Comanches coach Steven Cerny said.
Hagens, who has committed to Baylor, is an excellent trap blocker and helped the Comanches roll up more than 4,000 yards rushing last year. And with Colton Henley returning at the right guard spot along with tackle John Mraz and St. Paul transfer Kevin Patek at center, the Comanches have every opportunity to put up those same type of numbers this season.
Curtis threw for 12 touchdowns and rushed for five last season and was the district's offensive player of the year.
Dexter Mayberry, who saw some action toward the end of the season, will join Ryan Kloesel in the backfield.
"We feel very good about our backfield potential right now," Cerny said. "Our only question is with depth at the skill positions. We have an abundance of linemen and less skill people this year, so we just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope things work out."
AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Steve Cerny -- fourth season (41-4), all at Shiner.
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 16-0, 5-0 in District 31-1A.
RETURNING LETTERMEN: 11.
RETURNING STARTERS: 6 -- 3 offensive, 3 defensive.
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2004 -- defeated Stratford 33-19 in Class 1A final.
STRENGTH: Offensive line, defensive line.
WEAKNESS: Skill positions.
The Comanches have the potential to be just as good on the defensive side of the ball as well, even if only three starters return.
Hagens and Willie Leach return at the defensive ends, with Henley and Michael Cowen covering the tackle spots. Justin Reynolds, Dustin Littles, and Chase Veit are battling for the noseguard position.
"What we're going to try and do is put them in similar positions offensively as well and try to get as many kids as possible going one way," Cerny said. "We need to look at what matches will be the best way to go."
Kloesel moves from outside to middle linebacker, while Isaac Casares returns on the outside. Derek Richter and Dexter Mayberry are battling for the other outside spot.
Cerny said the secondary will hold the biggest question marks for the Comanches.
2005 SHINER COMANCHE FOOTBALLDate Time Team Last Year Aug 26 7:30 Poth W 24- 6 Sep 2 7:30 East Bernard W 35- 0 Sep 9 7:30 at Boling W 60- 0 Sep 16 7:30 at Randolph W 32-31 Sep 23 OPEN Sep 30 7:30 * at Falls City W 40- 0 Oct 7 7:30 * Runge W 31- 0 Oct 14 7:30 * at Louise W 66- 7 Oct 21 7:30 * Woodsboro W 50- 0 Oct 28 7:30 * at Flatonia W 43- 9 Nov 4 7:30 * Pettus W 36-14 * = District 30-1A game CLICK HERE FOR TEAM ROSTER
"The secondary will have to be completely overhauled," Cerny said. "We really don't know who's going to play where."
Kyle Condel is expected to play free safety, while A.J. Perez handles the strong safety slot. As far as the cornerbacks go, Cerny says it's still wide open.
"It's a toss-up right now between four guys," Cerny said. "Most of them don't know our full package yet. They played JV and only got half the package, so we're going to have to use the scrimmages to see who can pick things up and who can adjust."
It's also another reason why Cerny would like to have an open date come zero week.
"This is one year we probably wish we weren't playing zero week," he said. "But we're just going to have to take the slow approach."
Paul Ebner is the assistant sports editor for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6508, or by e-mail at email@example.com.