David Sine has won 39 games and made two playoff appearances during his six years as head coach at Flatonia. But the Bulldogs have not won a district championship or defeated Shiner during Sine's tenure.
Flatonia (7-1, 4-0) will have a chance to erase one blemish and take a big step toward eliminating another when it plays host to Shiner (6-2, 4-0) in a pivotal District 31-1A game today at 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Field.
Shiner will be seeking its eighth straight win over Flatonia. The Comanches would not only clinch a share of the district championship, but would also claim the top seed in the playoffs regardless of the outcome of next week's game against Pettus.
Flatonia needs to beat Shiner by 12 points or more or have Falls City lose to Woodsboro to clinch a playoff berth. The Bulldogs could win the title outright with wins over Shiner and Falls City next week.
"In our eyes, we're looking to come in and win the game," Sine said. "We know if we win by 12, we're in. We have to take care of business. We have two shots at it. We've been to the playoffs, but we haven't been district champions. That's our ultimate goal. We can't be district champions unless we win Friday night."
Shiner vs. Flatonia HistoryShiner and Flatonia have played 11
times since 1990 and Shiner owns a
9-2 edge, including 7 in a row.
2004 - *Shiner 43-9
2003 - *Shiner 34-8
2002 - *Shiner 23-22
2000 - dnp
1999 - Shiner 54-14
1998 - Shiner 58-7
1997 - *Shiner 54-0
1996 - *Shiner 24-20
1995 - *Flatonia 18-12
1994 - *Flatonia 12-7
1993 - Shiner 44-6
1992 - Shiner 22-0
* = district game
Shiner has won or shared four district championships since becoming a Class 1A team in 2000. The Comanches advanced to the state final in 2003 and won the state championship last season.
Shiner has extended its district-winning streak to 11 games this season, but it hasn't been easy. The Comanches have had to work around a number of injuries.
"It's been like that all year," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "It seems like every time we get something going, something crazy happens and we have to start all over. But we played one of our better games last week and we're hoping that will be the turnaround we've been waiting to see. We've had so many injuries but we're finally getting everybody back."
Linebacker Ryan Kloesel and running back Dexter Mayberry returned from injuries to the Shiner lineup in last week's 41-6 win over Woodsboro.
"Shiner has always found a way to reload and they've reloaded again," Sine said. "Their offensive and defensive lines do a good job of controlling the football game and they've got some weapons that can hurt you at any time."
Dustin Mayberry has led the Shiner veer offense by rushing for 899 yards and 10 touchdowns. D.J. Pustka stepped in at running back when Kloesel was hurt and has rushed for 376 yards and four touchdowns. Quarterback Trey Curtis, the lone returnee in the backfield from last season, has rushed for 270 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 325 yards and three touchdowns.
"With everything we've gone through, we're extremely pleased with the way the kids have handled things," Cerny said. "We've battled a lot of problems but our backups have stepped up and played well."
Flatonia has put together a strong rushing attack featuring running backs Kurt Morrill, who has rushed for 976 yards and 15 touchdowns, and Margoritto Grifaldo, who has rushed for 446 yards and 10 touchdowns.
"Their strength is in their line," Cerny said. "They've got guys who have strength and quickness. They're very physical and come right at you. We're going to have to match them blow-by-blow. In the past they used to do a lot of formations and throw a lot of stuff at us. But now they'll give you more I, wishbone, and power looks."
The Bulldogs have also been solid on defense, posting three shutouts and yielding more than 15 points in only one game, a 22-9 loss to Weimar.
"Our defense has played extremely well and put us in some great situations," Sine said. "We've also done a good job on special teams and our offensive line understands our scheme better than any offensive line I've had here. We feel like if we can win two out of the three areas, we'll win the game."
Flatonia hasn't been able to beat Shiner since 1995, but streaks pale in comparison to what's at stake.
"We can't get all caught up in the hype," Cerny said. "We have to be consistent in what we do. We have to hang in at the beginning. We can't let anything bad happen that will take us out of our game."
"The two teams are as evenly matched as they've been since I've gotten an opportunity to play Shiner," Sine said. "The keys will be field position and turnovers as they always are and a lot more so in this case. We feel like our kids are up for the challenge. It will be a dogfight. I'm just glad it's in the 'Dog pound."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.