Shiner coach Steven Cerny insists his team's attention is focused squarely on its bi-district game against Benavides.
But if the regular season is any indication, the Comanches appear to be in position for another long playoff run.
"I think there's a chance," Cerny said. "It's just a matter of how our backups step up."
Shiner met every challenge during the regular season, which came to a close last Friday with a 36-14 win over Pettus.
The Comanches took over the No. 1 ranking in the state Class 1A poll after the fourth week and held it through the rest of the season. Shiner defeated four Class 2A teams in non-district play and three of those teams have qualified for the playoffs. The Comanches rolled through their District 31-1A schedule, outscoring their opponents by a combined 266-30.
Shiner finished at 10-0 for the fourth time since 1960. Last season's team went 9-1 in the regular season before advancing to the state final where it dropped a 28-27 decision to Windthorst.
"I think we as coaches have learned how to handle it," Cerny said of the playoffs, which begin Friday at 7:30 p.m. at George West. "We've had some physical games. We got to play our starters for 31/2 quarters and that's helped."
Shiner's success wasn't a given. The Comanches had to replace seven offensive starters, including key losses at quarterback and in the offensive line.
Junior Trey Curtis has done an excellent job directing Shiner's veer offense, after replacing three-year starter Garet Pustka at quarterback.
Final AP High School Football Poll
Week Eleven - November 9, 2004
CLASS ATeam Rec Pts Pvs 1. Shiner (15) 10-0 191 1 2. Brackettville (3) 10-0 177 2 3. New Deal (1) 10-0 135 4 3. Chilton 9-1 135 3 5. Sunray (1) 10-0 133 5 6. Windthorst 8-2 74 8 7. Quanah 9-1 71 7 8. McCamey 9-1 59 9 9. Roscoe 8-1 55 10 10. Normangee 9-1 16 6 Also receiving votes: Stratford 13, Morton 12, Albany 10, Haskell 8, Mertzon 3, Axtell 3, Wolfe City 2, Harleton 2, Goldthwaite 1.
"Trey's been steady from Day 1," Cerny said, "He's continued to improve throughout the season. He's really throwing the ball well, even though we still rely primarily on the run. He's completed 14 passes and nine of them have been for touchdowns."
The offensive line has also improved thanks in a large part to the leadership provided by seniors Kevin Berger, Clayton McCorkle and Chase O'Connor. "Those guys have been very steady for us," Cerny said. "They've helped to bring those other guys along."
The defense has been the strength of the team all season. Shiner has recorded five shutouts and yielded double figures only twice. Cerny gives much of the credit .to the secondary, where O'Connor and Nick Evans have played cornerback and Berger and Bucky Boehm moved to safety.
The Comanches suffered a blow during district play when senior linebacker Jared Boedeker tore his anterior cruciate ligament and was lost for the season. Boedeker was the team's leading tackier and deep snapper.
But a bright spot has been the consistent play of senior Chris Baer, who played a major role in last season's run to the state final and has performed well at running back and linebacker this season.
Baer has carried 153 times for 1,230 yards and 26 touchdowns and scored an area-leading 160 points, despite a limited workload.
"I think that will work to his advantage," Cerny said of Baer. "He doesn't have tired legs. If you're looking at making a run, you've got to be fresh."
If the Comanches make a run, they will have to get through a region that includes Brackettville, the state's No. 2 team.
"I've never been one to get caught up in the big picture," Cerny said. "This region is always tough. Every year there's a good team there."