SHINER - Shiner coach Steven Cerny directed a visitor looking for Dylan Hagens to the practice field outside the field house.
It's not hard to spot 6-foot-7, 275-pound Dylan Hagens on the football field. The senior lineman has already committed to play football at Baylor. T.C. Baker, Advocate Staff Photographer
"He's out on the field," Cerny said. "You won't have any trouble finding him."
Hagens tends to stand out in a crowd and it's not only because at 6-feet-7, 275 pounds he towers over many of his teammates.
Hagens is also noticeable because of his hard work and leadership, which will be vital for the Comanches to make another playoff run this season.
"There's no doubt Dylan is going to be a big part of what we do," Cerny said.
Hagens played an important role during Shiner's drive to the Class 1A state championship last season, despite playing the final four playoff games with torn cartilage in his right shoulder.
Hagens started at guard as a junior and had 36 knockdown blocks, did not allow a sack, and graded out at 85 percent. He also played on the defensive line and was bench pressing 285 pounds before his injury.
Hagens' performance caught the attention of a number of schools, including Baylor, which offered him a scholarship. Hagens committed to the Bears in June.
Having already won a state championship and secured a Division I-A scholarship, not to mention appearing in this year's Texas Football magazine as the Class 1A coverboy, would seem to give Hagens every reason to coast through his senior season. But Hagens insists that won't be the case.
"All that happened is in the past," Hagens said. "I'm going to act like we haven't won anything. We want to go for the district championship and go far in the playoffs just like we did last season. I'm going to work just as hard to get better."
Hagens admits he was somewhat concerned about his shoulder coming into two- a-day workouts. Hagens underwent surgery, which forced him to miss most of the baseball season, and he didn't get back into the weight room until May.
"The first day I was a little timid," Hagens said. "But as practice went on, I was OK. I went as fast as I needed to and everything is back to normal now."
Hagens will continue to play guard on offense, but Cerny has moved him from defensive end to tackle to give Shiner more size inside.
"It doesn't matter if I play end or tackle, they're basically the same," Hagens said. "I still have to read the play on defense."
Cerny isn't worried about Hagens' ability to grasp his assignments. But Cerny does have concerns about his stamina, especially early in the season.
"If you're that big, you're going to get tired," Cerny said. "It's not like he's some wiry back. He's big and he needs a little more energy. He began to make strides in the Poth game (Shiner's 14-10 season-opening win) and he'll continue to get better."
While Hagens has been working hard to get in shape, he's also taken the time to tutor teammate Will Pekar, who transferred from St. Paul, and will play tackle in Shiner's veer offense.
"That was the main thing that's different about this year," Hagens said. "This year I'm kind of teaching. I've been working with Will and teaching him all the plays. It's real important. If our offensive line doesn't do the job, our backs won't have the chance to be there."
Hagens realizes this year's team is a work in progress, but he's optimistic the construction will continue after the regular season has ended.
"I've got a real good feeling," Hagens said. "I know we lost a great group of seniors. But to come out with a win against Poth will give us a little confidence boost. I think we'll be right where we need to be. We're not taking a step back."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.