Bay City, Cuero and Shiner differ in location and size, but they share one distinction.
The three Advocate area towns are the homes of top-ranked teams in the Associated Press state football poll.
Bay City became the No. 1 Class 4A team last week and held on to the top spot during its bye week.
Cuero moved from up from No. 2 in the Class 3A poll with a win over Sealy and a loss by previous No. 1 Manor. Shiner moved up from No. 3 in the Class 1A poll with a win over Universal City Randolph and losses by previous No. 1 Chilton and previous No. 2 Big Sandy.
It is the first time three Advocate area teams have been ranked No. 1 in their respective classifications in the AP state poll.
AP High School Football Poll Week Four - September 21, 2004 CLASS A
Team Rec Pts Pvs 1. Shiner (15) 4-0 188 3 2. Quanah (2) 3-0 168 4 3. Brackettville (1) 4-0 149 6 4. Stratford (1) 3-1 111 7 5. Chilton 3-1 102 1 6. New Deal (1) 3-0 93 8 7. McCamey 4-0 79 9 8. Big Sandy 3-1 52 2 9. Windthorst 2-2 43 10 10. Sunray 4-0 28 NR 10. Roscoe 3-1 28 5 10. Normangee 4-0 28 NR WHO DROPPED OUT: None ALSO RECEIVING VOTES: Knox City 11, Harleton 8, Lindsay 5, Morton 5, Tolar 1, Axtell 1.
But just as Bay City coach Alan Cherry downplayed the significance of being ranked No. 1 last week, Cuero's Mark Reeve and Shiner's Steven Cerny have taken a similar tack.
"There's only one No. 1 and that's at the end of the year," Reeve said. "All the other stuff is just speculation."
"You know rankings don't mean anything," Cerny agreed. "Hopefully, it will give us a little motivation to keep that."
Reeve has been proud of his team's effort in wins over Corpus Christi West Oso, La Grange, Wharton and Sealy. But he plans to remind his players that every team previously ranked No. 1 in the Class 3A poll has lost the next week.
"It's taken us five weeks and they've had five No. 1 teams, so obviously they have no idea," Reeve said. "They've been wrong five times in a row. When they put you on the hit list, it doesn't help your football team."
Shiner earned its ranking with wins over Poth, East Bernard, Boling and Randolph, all Class 2A teams.
"The good thing is we went through our non-district schedule with an undefeated record," Cerny said. "Now that we're getting ready to start district, we've got to treat every game like it's the playoffs. I think it's a realistic goal for us to try and be undefeated into the playoffs."
Shiner has an open week before starting District 31-1A play against defending district champion Falls City on Oct. 1.
"I would prefer to play a game the week before district," said Cerny, whose team plays in a seven-team district. "But since we're only playing four non-district games, it doesn't really bother me. I think it will help get us fresh. It will give us a chance to get that second wind."
Cuero will play host to No. 8 Sinton on Friday and will have an open week before opening District 26-3A play against Hallettsville.
"The main adjustment we've had to make is we've had to play a lot of guys both ways," Reeve said. "That means we have to condition twice as hard as everyone else. I'd like to have a running back with fresh legs, but we need them too much on defense. But our work ethic, practice enthusiasm and the overall level of enthusiasm has been better this year."
Cerny and Reeve realize top-ranked teams usually bring out the best in their opponents. But the Comanches and Gobblers are used to stiff competition. Cuero has advanced to nine state finals and won three state championships, and Shiner has been to two state finals and won one state title.
"The whole key is you have to use it as motivation to work harder," Cerny said. "You can't take it for granted. People are gunning for you a little harder. We've got to use it to our advantage."
"It's something our kids in Cuero are used to," Reeve said. "Everybody we play gives their best effort. But that's what you're looking for. Being ranked No. 1 is not even a goal of ours. Our goal is to make the playoffs and to try and win a state championship."
Flatonia coach David Sine admits his team suffered a setback when it dropped a 16-10 decision to Sacred Heart in its season opener.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 5 in the Class 1A preseason poll and the defeat knocked it out of the state rankings.
"It was frustrating for all of us," Sine said. "We've spent five years trying to get into the top 10. We finally get on the map and then we lose. It was a wakeup call for us."
The Bulldogs have bounced back with three consecutive wins heading into Friday's District 31-1A opener at Runge.
Flatonia has scored a total of 110 points against Granger, St. Paul and Weimar and was particularly impressive in its 38-21 win over Weimar last Friday night.
The Bulldogs rolled up 501 yards of offense against Sine's alma mater with a good balance between the run (291 yards) and the pass (210).
"A lot of it was a matter of timing," Sine said. "R.J. (Lester) did a good job of reading the defense and he used a little touch with his passes. Galen Dunk did a great job of catching the ball and Lyndon Gutierrez (271 yards rushing and four touchdowns) came up big. It couldn't have come at a better time. I'd much rather be 4-0, but I've seen some improvement and we're ready to start district."
Lions enjoying success
Kenedy has tripled its win total of the last three seasons and coach Oscar Muniz attributes the Lions' turnaround to the dedication of his players.
"Our thing is we want to outwork every team we play," Muniz said. "Things are starting to click together. We've have no major injuries and the kids are starting to buy into what we're doing."
With its 22-0 win over Three Rivers last Friday, Kenedy has started a season 3-1 for the first time since 1999. The Lions rushed for 421 yards against the Bulldogs.
"In the first half, we had 190 yards of rushing, but we didn't stick it in the end zone," Muniz said. "But when you're getting five yards a pop, you have to keep running the ball. We did that in the second half and were able to get it into the end zone."
Kenedy closes out its non-district schedule at Riviera before opening District 29-2A play against Yorktown on Oct. 1.
"One thing we don't do around here is talk about the past," Muniz said of the Lions, who went 1-19 the past two seasons. "We're going to move forward and keep going. We're going to continue to work hard and hopefully good things will happen."