Shiner coach Steven Cerny felt a lot smarter a year ago than he does today and it's not because he's forgotten anything he's learned.
Shiner entered its open week last season with a 4-0 record and all four wins had come over Class 2A teams as it prepared to begin District 31-1A play.
This season the Comanches take a 2-2 record into their open week and will spend the next two weeks attempting to get ready for their district opener at Falls City.
"We have yet to put our total game together," Cerny said. "We're going to keep trying to improve. We do see progress. We see the potential for us to be pretty good. We just haven't played very well."
Cerny didn't expect a repeat of last year when Shiner went 16-0 and won the school's second state championship. But he was hoping to be a little further along at this point in the season. Shiner has had good moments and bad moments in wins over Poth and Boling and losses to East Bernard and Universal City Randolph.
"Our main concern is trying to get our team improved," Cerny said. "I think we've pretty well got it figured out. It's just a matter of trying to execute. We're trying to get our guys healthy. If we're not healthy, we're going to have a tough time."
The Comanches have played two games without starting quarterback Trey Curtis, the lone starter returning from last year in the backfield. Curtis missed last Friday night's 34-20 loss to Randolph with an ankle sprain.
Tackle Will Pekar is recovering from a strained hip flexor and halfback/linebacker Ryan Kloesel left the Randolph game after injuring his foot. Shiner has welcomed back center Kevin Patek, which will allow Mark Casteel to return to tight end.
"We're very pleased with the progress of our line," Cerny said. "We thought our line played well against Randolph. We've just got to get Trey back and get him healthy."
Cerny hopes the week off will allow Curtis and his other injured players to heal. It will also give him and his staff a chance to scout the other district teams.
Flatonia and Pettus will take 3-1 records into their openers against Runge and Falls City, respectively. Louise, which is coming off a 32-14 win over Yorktown, will meet Woodsboro.
"You really can't say anything at this point," Cerny insisted. "In college, you can look at returnees and stats, but I think in our case, everybody's kind of in the dark. I do think it's going to be more of a physical game you have to play. There's not really anybody with great speed. You're going to have to win the war on the line of scrimmage."
Shiner rolled through district last season, outscoring the competition by a combined margin of 266-30. But Cerny expects a much tougher test this season.
"This will be one of those year's where you really can't look past anybody," Cerny said. "You're going to need a good game plan and you're going to have to do the little things right."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.