FALLS CITY - Jim Ed Baugh insisted the Falls City defense needed no intricate scheme to contain Shiner's explosive veer offense.
"We just hit them before they hit us," the senior linebacker said. "We were aggressive on defense. We were reading, but we weren't sitting there reading. We got on them before they got on us."
Falls City's approach paid off in a 7-0 District 30-1A victory over the Comanches on Friday night at Beaver Stadium.
Falls City improved to 9-0 on the season and 4-0 in district, while clinching at least a share of the district title and the top seed in the bi-district playoffs. The Beavers will play the loser of the Center Point-D'Hanis game in the first round.
Shiner, ranked No. 2 in the state, dropped to 8-1 on the season and 3-1 in district. The Comanches must defeat Flatonia next Friday night to advance to bi-district against the Center Point-D'Hanis winner.
Falls City limited Shiner to eight first downs and 134 total yards and forced three fumbles, two of which were recovered by Jeffrey Creswell. Rudy Garza got the other fumble recovery when he grabbed a pitch attempt by Shiner quarterback Garet Pustka. The Beavers not only held Shiner nearly 300 yards under its average output, they became the first team to shut out the Comanches since Marion did it in the fourth week of the 1997 season, a streak of 75 games.
"It goes back to the old adage that defense wins championships," said Falls City coach Mark Kirchoff. "We executed real well. We showed them a lot of different looks and kept them off balance enough to keep them from centering in on what we were doing."
Kirchoff attributed much of Falls City's success to what it learned in last season's 38-20 loss to Shiner.
"It all started last year in Shiner," Kirchoff said. "We had this big explosive offense and it didn't work. We had to change the attitude of the kids. We're not as much finesse. We became a better team after we played Shiner."
The change of attitude wasn't limited to defense, as Falls City also become more run-oriented on offense. The Beavers ran on 38 of their 47 plays, and converted eight of their 10 first downs on the ground. Joe Theis led the Falls City rushing attack, carrying 19 times for 96 yards and scoring the game's lone touchdown on an 8-yard run with 3:05 left in the second quarter. Baugh kicked the extra point.
"We haven't been passing the ball as much this season," Theis said. "We've been running the lead and we were able to switch it up and hurt them with the draw. We didn't just go with one thing."
Shiner moved into Falls City territory four times, but turned the ball over twice, and had its final drive stopped by a penalty for an illegal forward lateral on a hook-and-lateral attempt that would have given the Comanches a first down inside the Beavers' 20-yard line.
"You have to give them credit," said Shiner coach Steve Cerny. "They got after it good. They played physical football. We worked on their looks, but their defense just played good, physical football."
Shiner drove to the Falls City 2-yard line on the game's opening possession, but defensive end Chris Balser threw running back Quentin Wright for 6-yard loss on a fourth-and-one attempt. It was one of 11 Shiner plays that went for negative yards, with nine of those coming in the first half.
"We played nine or 10 in the box and we got good penetration," Kirchoff said. "They were scoring 50 to 60 points a game and they broke a few, but we were able to get enough negative plays to slow them down."
Falls City drove 41 yards in six plays, before Theis, who carried three times on the drive for 21 yards, went over the left side for the score.
"We have a different mentality this year," said Baugh, who plays center on offense. "This year, we come out to run the ball."
Shiner, which played most of the second half without halfback/middle linebacker Chris Baer, who suffered a thigh bruise midway through the second quarter, stopped Falls City on its 11-yard line to begin the third quarter.
But after a 65-yard punt by Steven Evans and a three-and-out defensive stand, the Comanches were unable to convert after driving from the Falls City 48 to the 2-yard line.
Pustka was thrown for a 2-yard loss on first down and after Evans gained 1 yard on second down, Pustka fumbled after being hit in the backfield and it was recovered by Jeffrey Creswell at the 12.
The Comanches' final drive ended on a fourth-and-five attempt from the Falls City 33. Pustka threw to Casey Coleman, who caught the ball at the 24 and pitched it to Evans, who was pushed out at the 17.
But the officials ruled Coleman threw the ball forward and Shiner was penalized 5 yards from where Coleman caught the ball. The Comanches came up one-yard short of a first down and had to turn the ball over as the penalty resulted in a loss of down.
"I felt like eventually we were going to break one," Cerny said. "We've usually been able to wear them down and have some success in the second half. But it didn't happen."
GAME STATISTICS Shiner Falls City First Downs 9 10 Rushing-Yards 42-134 38-128 Passing Yards 0 36 Comp-Att-Int 2-5-0 2-9-0 Punts-Avg 5-43.8 7-26.6 Fumbles-Lost 6-3 0-0 Penalties-yards 6-35 3-14 Rushing: Shiner, Quentin Wright 19-80; Chris Baer 5-34; Garet Pustka 10-13; Steven Evans 8-7. Falls City, Joe Theis 19-96; Stephen Creswell 5-26; Matt Liska 1-12; Brad Olinizk 2-2; B.J. Sixto 11-(-10). Passing: Shiner, Pustka 2-5-0-0. Falls City, Sixto 2-9-0-36. Receiving: Shiner, Casey Coleman 1-9; Clayton McCorkle 1-(-9). Falls City, Joey Wiatrek 1-29; Derek Sturm 1-7. SCORING SUMMARY Shiner 0 0 0 0 -- 0 Falls City 0 7 0 0 -- 7 SCORING DETAILS First Quarter no score Second Quarter FC - Joe Theis 8 run (Jim Ed Baugh kick), 3:05 Third Quarter no score Fourth Quarter no score