To suggest Chilton has anxiously awaited its Class 1A regional playoff game against Shiner would be a gross understatement.
"I think they've been waiting for us all year long," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said.
The Comanches (10-2) have forced Chilton (12-0) to wait for another chance twice, eliminating the Pirates from the playoffs the last two seasons.
Shiner captured a 49-37 semifinal win over Chilton in 2003 before losing in the state final. The Comanches claimed a 24-7 regional win last season and went on to win the state championship.
Round 3 of Shiner vs. Chilton is set for today at 7:30 p.m. at Pflugerville Hendrickson High School.
While Shiner carried the No. 1 ranking into last year's game, the roles are reversed this season. Chilton was ranked No. 1 heading into the postseason while the Comanches were unranked.
"I think it puts a lot more pressure on a coach when you're expected to win," Cerny said. "But here in Shiner we don't ever feel like an underdog. We know we have to play a good game, but we feel like we're capable of doing it."
Chilton has virtually destroyed its opponents. The Pirates are averaging 41.6 points per game while yielding 6.4 points per game. With the exception of a 20-19 win over Class 2A Italy, Chilton has won every game by two touchdowns or more and nine games by 30 points or more.
The Pirates opened the playoffs with a 37-7 bi-district win over Milano before scoring four touchdowns in the final 18 minutes to claim a 35-6 area victory over Rocksprings.
"They've got a veteran club," Cerny said. "Their offensive line has been there for three years. They've got quickness and three backs who can run. We've got to try and get to them before they get going."
Shiner started the season 2-2, losing games to Class 2A East Bernard (13-10) and 2A Universal City Randolph (34-20). But the Comanches have won eight straight games, including a 21-0 bi-district win over Ben Bolt and 21-7 area playoff victory over Charlotte.
The Shiner defense has shut out two of its last three opponents while giving up one touchdown in the last 14 quarters.
"What we have to do is contain their speed and match them blow-by-blow in their power package," Shiner defensive end John Mraz said. "The teams who have had success against them have won the battle at the line of scrimmage."
The turning points in the Comanches' previous wins over Chilton were first- half goal-line stands by the Shiner defense.
"Those goal-line stands were very important," Cerny said. "It killed their momentum and we kept the lead going into halftime. We came on strong in the third quarter. They had to try and play catch up."
Shiner has played in the regional round every year since joining Class 1A in 2000. The Comanches have advanced beyond regional three times in the last five years.
"This is a great time of the year," Cerny said. "You're friends and family are around and can see you play. You've accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish and you know playing for a state championship is within reach if you do what you need to do."
NOTES: Shiner will be the home team... The winner will advance to the quarterfinals against the winner of tonight's Bremond-Brackett game at Alamo Heights in San Antonio...Shiner running back Dustin Mayberry has rushed for 1,473 yards and 13 touchdowns...Former Shiner assistant Reggie Morgan is an assistant coach at Pflugerville Hendrickson...The game will be broadcast on KTXM, 99.9 FM & KYKM, 92.5 FM.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.