SHINER - Although he's the most experienced player in the secondary for the Comanches, Shiner cornerback Nick Evans still took a history lesson in the team's second playoff game against Charlotte.
Shiner cornerback Nick Evans has led the Comanches' secondary in allowing only 51 passing yards per game. Shiner takes on Brackett in a Class 1A quarterfinal game Saturday at 6 p.m. at San Antonio's Alamo Stadium. photo by Kerri Besio, Victoria Advocate
"I was on the field but I was closer to their sideline, and they had a hook-and-go (route)," Evans said. "And they said, 'What side do you want it on?' and they said 'No. 9.' They wanted to pick on me that game."
Charlotte, who handed the Comanches a season-high in passing yardage (125 yards), employed a strategy that may have come from a bit of history, according to Shiner's cover corners.
"In the past, a lot of teams tried to go after our secondary," cornerback Chase O'Connor said. "We've always been weak in the secondary."
"Not this year," Evans replied. "I really don't think so."
A majority of the team's recognition has gone to the defensive front seven, which has limited opponents to 61 yards per game on the ground. The inability to run the football against Shiner has led opponents to go the air more, giving the secondary a challenge it has not taken lightly.
The cornerback duo, along with safeties Kevin Berger and Bucky Boehm, has limited the opposition to 666 yards in 13 games, an average of 51 yards, even less than what the rushing defense is allowing.
The top-ranked Comanches (13-0) hope to continue their staunch defensive effort when they faces No. 2 Brackett (12-0) in a Class 1A quarterfinal game at San Antonio's Alamo Stadium on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Berger, who had two interceptions in Shiner's win against Chilton last week, is a converted linebacker, while Boehm never started, but had limited work last year in the secondary. Evans started at cornerback in 2003, but his polar opposite, O'Connor, never saw a down as a member of the secondary until this season.
"He's had the speed and quickness," Shiner head coach Steve Cerny said. "We don't have a whole lot of other people. I think he's one of our better cover guys right now. I guess you call him a diamond in the rough. We really didn't know what he could do. He's made play after big play this year."
All four secondary starters have allowed only two teams - Runge and Charlotte - to pass over 100 yards. Eight of the 12 opposing quarterbacks have thrown at least 15 times, only one of which completed at least half of his attempts.
"One thing they all have going for them is that they're all smart and they're willing to work," Cerny said, "and I think that's the key more than anything. If you tell them something, they're going to do it exactly like you tell them to do it."
There is no better example of Cerny's thoughts than in last week's 24-7 win over Chilton in their Class 1A regional playoff game, in which Chilton quarterback Justin McCormick finished the game with 12 straight incompletions.
"(Coach Billy Turek) just told us nothing real fancy - they're going to throw right up to the receivers and try to come up big on the big play," Evans said. "Just make sure you didn't get beat deep."
"A lot of it was they were just going for the big one, just trying to score quick," Cerny said of Chilton. "It wasn't really that complex of a route, but it does put your pressure on 1-on-1. We had some real good plays right there - fought for the ball, knocked them away, got some interceptions."
With great play comes rewards, and when you're talking to members of the secondary, rewards mean interceptions. Shiner has 21 on the year, third most in the Advocate area, with Kevin Berger leading the team with seven.
But the secondary, and the team, may only have to wait at least three more weeks for their ultimate reward - a state championship.