It would be nothing out of the ordinary to describe an East Bernard-Shiner matchup as a battle between power and finesse. But it's not often that Shiner is recognized for its power and East Bernard is noted for its finesse.
That's not to imply that Shiner is without quickness or that East Bernard does not play hard-nosed football. But when Class 2A East Bernard (0-1) and Class 1A Shiner (1-0) meet today at 7:30 p.m. at Shiner's Comanche Stadium, it will be a role reversal of sorts.
Shiner, which is ranked No. 9 in the Associated Press' state poll, has not abandoned the veer offense. But the Comanches have rarely been able to run behind an offensive line that can include three players weighing 275 pounds or more.
"Line play is going to be huge," East Bernard coach Kent Scott said. "They're so big, so strong, and so well coached. I don't know if we can handle them up front. Their line is going to take them a long way."
Shiner relied heavily on the offensive line in its 14-10 season-opening win over Poth. With quarterback Trey Curtis sidelined with a shoulder injury, the Comanches started the season with a completely new backfield.
"We felt like our offensive line did a real good job," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "We stayed pretty simple with our play calling. We're not that far along. We want to do the little things right before we advance."
East Bernard dropped a 28-21 decision to Hallettsville in its opener. But the Brahmas had some success out of their spread offense, rushing for 189 yards and three touchdowns.
"They've got threats everywhere," Cerny said. "They get in the shotgun and do a good job of running the counter-trey. They've got some speed and you can't practice for that. You have to learn what angles to take."
East Bernard's scores against Hallettsville came on runs by quarterback Oddrick Thomas and running backs Derrick Wilson and Garrett Traweek.
"I know people don't think about East Bernard that way, but we're really more of a finesse team now," Scott said. "I like to play smash-mouth football as much as anybody, but we just don't have the size."
Shiner and East Bernard's biggest goal is to be playing in the postseason and they have no doubt playing each other will help them get there.
"This game is going to be good for us," Cerny said. "They're going to challenge us into the fourth quarter. We don't have the experience now, but we're going to get it in the first four games. We want to win this game, but the main thing is the kids learn the system and get it perfected."
"We had some things go right (last season) and the kids picked up more confidence," Scott said. "I think the kids' expectations are higher than last year. We're looking for a win, but the main thing is we get better every week. Our kids know that non-district doesn't really mean anything."
NOTES: Shiner won last year's game 35-0 and went on to win the Class 1A state championship with a 16-0 record. ... Shiner has won 15 straight games at Comanche Stadium. ... East Bernard started last season 0-5 but won three of its final five games and advanced to the Division II bi-district playoffs. ... Cerny said Curtis has been cleared to play against East Bernard. Sophomore Kyle Condel started at quarterback against Poth. ... East Bernard's Wilson rushed for 126 yards and one touchdown against Hallettsville.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.