NEW BRAUNFELS - Shiner has turned a season filled with adversity into a season full of opportunity.
The Comanches needed only look to the sideline to be reminded of their misfortune, but prefer to focus on what's taking place on the field.
Shiner pulled off just enough big plays and dug deep enough to persevere long enough to capture a 22-19 Class 1A, Division I regional playoff victory over Brackettville on Saturday night at Canyon's Cougar Field.
"Our team chemistry just keeps getting better and better with all the injuries," Shiner running back Adam Kalich said. "Somehow we just keep getting closer as a team."
Kalich and fellow sophomore Matthew Hibbs were joined by freshman Kyle Patek in helping the Comanches improve to 8-4 and advance to the quarterfinals against Iola, a 28-21 winner over Granger on Friday night. The quarterfinal game has been set for next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Burger Center in Austin.
Kalich carried 11 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. Kalich scored Shiner's first touchdown on a 16-yard run with 11:32 left in the first quarter. The touchdown came on the Comanches' second play from scrimmage, after Cody Franke, a junior, had run 68 yards on a reverse.
"I figured he would have to do something for us to win," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said of Kalich, who also scored on a 21-yard run in the second quarter. "After watching Dexter (Mayberry) run last week, I knew they would be shaded over the other way. Adam stepped up for us tonight."
Hibbs made his second start at quarterback a successful one, keeping Shiner turnover-free, while rushing 15 times for 104 yards. But Hibbs' biggest play was his only pass, a 25-yard touchdown to tight end Derek Richter on a fourth-and-nine play with 58 seconds left in the second quarter.
"That's one of those plays you work on all year long," Cerny said, "and we finally got to it."
But Shiner's biggest play came after Dalton Handley recovered a fumble at the Brackettville 29-yard line. The Comanches gained six yards on two runs before calling a timeout with 1.7 seconds left in the first half and sending Patek on to the field for a 40-yard field goal attempt.
Patek, who had attempted only two extra points on the junior varsity team, kicked the ball through the center of the uprights with room to spare to send Shiner to the locker room with a 22-7 lead.
"We sat and thought about it," Cerny said of the field goal attempt. "We figured those were our best odds. Kyle really hasn't had much experience. He had a little breeze to his back, but it looked like he had plenty of distance."
The field goal proved vital when Brackettville (6-5) controlled the ball for 15:27 of the second half. Quarterback Robert Davis carried 18 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. Davis had 15 carries for 133 yards and scored on runs of 6 and 1 yard in the third and fourth quarters.
Davis' second touchdown pulled the Tigers within three points and completed a 20- play, 85-yard drive that consumed 9:42.
"In the first half I thought we did as well as we can do to mix it up and move the ball," Cerny said. "The big thing in the second half is we never gave up the big play. They were able to drive the whole field, but we never gave up the big play."
Shiner thwarted the Tigers' final attempt when juniors Zach Morkovsky, who had the Comanches' first fumble recovery, and Ethan Darilek pulled down Travis Bonner at the Bracketville 40, three yards short of a first down with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter.
"It's awesome," Kalich said. "For us to keep going after all these injuries is just great."
GAME STATISTICS: Shiner Brackett First Downs 12 15 Rushes-Yards 44-299 46-273 Passing Yards 25 -1 Comp-Att-Int 1-1-0 0-4-0 Punts 3-31.7 2-23.5 Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-2 Penalties-yards 3-30 7-35 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: Rushing - Brackettville, Robert Davis 18-161; Travis Bonner 12-49; Jacob Schroeder 10-45; Ivan Pinales 5-12; Fermin Villanueva 1-6. Shiner, Matthew Hibbs 15-104; Cody Franke 2-76; Adam Kalich 11-67; Dexter Mayberry 14-54; Team 2-(-2). Passing - Brackettville, Davis 1-4-0 (-1).Shiner, Hibbs 1-1-0 25. Receiving - Brackettville, Pinales 1-(-1). Shiner, Derek Richter 1-25. SCORING SUMMARY: 1 2 3 4 F Shiner 6 16 0 0 -- 22 Brackett 7 0 6 6 -- 19 SCORING DETAILS: First Quarter S - Adam Kalich 16 run (no kick), 11:32 B - Travis Bonner 6 run (Jacob Schroeder kick), 3:23 Second Quarter S - Kalich 21 run (run failed), 7:53 S - Derek Richter 25 pass from Matthew Hibbs (Kyle Patek), 0:58 S - Patek 40 field goal, 0:00 Third Quarter B - Robert Davis 6 run (kick failed), 10:07 Fourth Quarter S - Davis 1 run (run failed), 9:55