SHINER - Experience is something Shiner Comanches coach Steve Cerny will be counting on this season.
Not only do the Comanches have a strong, seasoned nucleus to work around, they will have some added experience in the coaching staff with the return of former head coach Billy Turek as the defensive play caller.
Shiner’s Steve Cerny welcomes back 14 starters from last season’s 11-2 Class 1A regional finalist.
Victoria Advocate Photo
And that should have Region IV-1A teams a little concerned as the Comanches enter the season ranked fifth in the state in the Texas Football magazine preseason poll.
Cerny has the co-district MVPs back from last year in senior Quentin Wright and junior Chris Baer and that would be any coach’s wish going into the season.
"They’ve both been up here working this summer and we’re going to count on them heavily this year and I think they’ll respond," said Cerny, who begins his second season at the helm after taking over for Turek last season.
After an 11-2 season and a trip to the regional final last year, Cerny feels confident going into the season with eight offensive and six defensive starters returning. Wright and Baer lead the offensive contingent that also includes senior quarterback Garet Pustka, tight ends senior Todd Wenske and junior Scott Shimek, senior wide receiver Casey Coleman, and senior running back Steven Evans.
"We’ve got all our key skill people coming back," Cerny pointed out. Our starting backfield is basically intact and will be a senior group as well."
Wright, who handles a variety of duties for the Comanches, rushed for 464 yards and added 458 yards receiving in helping pace the offensive attack along with Baer last season. Baer finished with 974 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.
SHINER COMANCHES AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Steven Cerny - second year (11-2), both at Shiner.
LAST YEAR'S RECORD: 11-2, 5-0 in District 30-1A.
RETURNING LETTERMEN: 18
RETURNING STARTERS: 14 (8 offensive, 6 defensive).
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2002 - Lost to Thorndale 47-27 in regional final.
STRENGTH: Experience at skill positions, defensive secondary.
WEAKNESS: Inexperience at defensive end.
Pustka returns for his third season as the signal caller. The second-team all-district quarterback rushed for 217 yards and threw for 310 Pustka yards last season.
Evans, a first-team all-district running back, will join Wright and Baer in the backfield. Evans rushed for 435 yards and four touchdowns last season.
"We’re going to stay basically with our veer offense and utilize a short passing game," Cerny said. "I think we can open things up a little that way. I don’t want them putting eight-man fronts up against us. I want to keep them honest and when you’re balanced you can do that."
Wenske is a first team all-district tight end, while Shimek garnered second-team honors last season. Coleman, a second-team all-district receiver last year, will cover the wide-out slot for the Comanches. Coleman had seven catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns in 2002.
Cerny will also have plenty of experience up front in center Brady Strauss and tackle Jeremy Buschell, both all district first teamers. "We’ve definitely got a good base to start with," Cerny said.
2003 SHINER COMANCHE FOOTBALLDate Time Team Last Year 08/29 7:30 Poth W 14- 7 09/05 7:30 Schulenburg W 28-14 09/12 7:30 at Boling L 20-27 09/19 7:30 at Weimar W 35- 7 09/26 7:30 open 10/03 7:30 Nixon-Smiley W 34-26 10/10 7:30 * at Charlotte W 47- 0 10/17 7:30 * Louise W 36- 0 10/24 7:30 * at Runge W 54- 0 10/31 7:30 * at Falls City W 38-20 11/07 7:30 * Flatonia W 23-22 * = District 30-1A Games CLICK HERE FOR TEAM ROSTER
With Wright in the secondary and Baer leading the linebackers, Turek’s job should be much easier. Wright finished with 75 tackles and seven interceptions last season, while Baer added 50 tackles and two interceptions.
"With coach Turek back and calling the defense, I know we’ll be really aggressive," Cerny said. "He likes to stunt a lot."
Behind Wright and Baer, plenty of experience awaits in Wenske and Evans at outside linebacker, Burchell and Clayton McCorkle on the line and Jared Boedeker in the secondary. All five earned first- or second-team all district recognition at their positions last season.
"We’re still going to be basically a 4-3 and we still have some spots to fill," Cerny said.
"We have to find some defensive ends. We’ve been real strong the last couple of years at the defensive end spots, so someone will have to step up for us there"
Even with all the experience back, Cerny still enters the season on a cautious note. "To really make a run at it, you have to be solid at every position." Cerny said. "We’re solid at some spots, but we’re going to be counting on some young people to fill some important spots for us."
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.