SHINER - Still not allowing more than one touchdown in a playoff game this season, the Shiner Comanches defense couldn't ask for more momentum heading into their Class 1A quarterfinal matchup against No. 2 Brackett.
The defense stopped Chilton on four key fourth-down conversions - two inside its red zone - to oust the third-ranked Pirates 24-7 last Saturday in the Class 1A regional round. Shiner's defense has created eight interceptions and recovered two fumbles in three playoff wins and has consequently given the offense an upper-hand virtually every time it hits the field.
"We really believe defense is where it starts," Shiner head coach Steve Cerny said. "That's what wins championships. Offensively, you have to have some fire, but it's usually defense that wins the battle of field position and sets everything up for you."
Shiner (13-0) hopes it doesn't get faked out in its biggest challenge this season against the second-ranked Tigers today at 6 p.m. at San Antonio's Alamo Stadium.
Brackett (12-0) relies on misdirection to run its offense. Running back Noe Talamentes entered the playoffs with 1,216 yards on 98 carries with 17 touchdowns. Talamentes hit the playoffs running with 149 and 136 yards against Flatonia and Axtell, respectively, scoring four touchdowns along the way. Brackett has outscored its opponents 517-112 this season, averaging 43 points per game.
"They've got one (back) with a lot of size," Cerny said. "He's also their nose tackle, so he's going to be the No. 1 guy we have to stop. They just have a lot of quick backs. They may shuffle three or four backs in the game."
Quarterback Kody Yeager, who rushed for 675 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season, and the combination in the backfield will try to confuse and abuse the Shiner defense.
"They have a very, I don't know if you call it a deceptive offense or what, but they may hand off the ball the first time but they'll still use two more fakes," Cerny said. "It's a lot of misdirection, and their quarterback is like a magician out there."
"You cannot look at the backfield or you'll be lost on where the ball is," Shiner cornerback Nick Evans said. "They carry out their fakes so well. If you read the keys, you'll know where the ball is."
The Comanches do not expect to see a repeat of last week or their competition in district, when the opposition went to the passing game frequently. Brackett passed for only 65.5 yards per game in the regular season, and its passing plays are usually set up by effectiveness in running the football.
"They're like us. When they do pass, it has a chance to be a big one with all the play-action they use," Cerny said. "Teams like Brackett, Shiner and Chilton are a rarity nowadays. You just don't see teams that run consistently and pass five times a game."
The Comanches' offense has also continued to impress. Chris Baer had 236 rushing yards last week and has 1,769 yards on the season. Quarterback Trey Curtis has 645 yards.
The winner of the quarterfinal will advance to face the winner of today's Harleton-Big Sandy game.
"With Chilton being No. 3, and this being No. 2, this could give us a lot of confidence going in the rest of the way," cornerback Chase O'Connor said.
NOTES: Brackett went 10-0 in the regular season last season but lost to Poth in the Class 2A, Division II bi-district round of the playoffs. ... To get to Alamo Stadium from Shiner, take U.S. Hwy. 183 North to IH-10 West to San Antonio. Turn right on Loop 410 North to IH-35 South heading downtown. Take U.S. Hwy. 281 North for 2-3 miles and take the St. Mary's/ Mulberry exit. Stay on the frontage road and follow signs to Trinity University. Follow the frontage road over the highway and Alamo Stadium will be on your right. ... The game will be broadcast on KYKM (92.5 FM). ... Fans who want to take a charter bus to San Antonio should call Barbara Muehlstein at 361-594-4103. Cost is $22, and 48 seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.