SHINER - Shiner coach Steven Cerny wasn't happy when his team fell behind in last week's Class 1A quarterfinal game against Brackett, but he was pleased with the reaction of his players.
The top-ranked and unbeaten Shiner Comanches will charge the field tonight at Waco's Floyd Casey Stadium to take on the Big Sandy Wildcats in a Class 1A semifinal playoff game. photo by Kerri Besio, Victoria Advocate
The Comanches spotted Brackett a 7-0 lead before rebounding in the latter stages of the third quarter and going on to claim a 21-7 win.
"That's when you reflect back to last year," Cerny said. "We never got down. Even when we were behind, you could still see the confidence when they came off the field."
Shiner (14-0) advanced to the state final last year and will go after a second consecutive appearance and third overall in the championship game when it meets Big Sandy (11-3) in a semifinal game today at 7 p.m. at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
"We know what's required to get back to the state final," said Shiner senior Clayton McCorkle. "When you sit there and talk about it happening, you get cold chills."
Cerny had chills of his own while trying to come up with a game plan for Big Sandy, and Cerny places an emphasis on "Big," especially at running back and linebacker.
The Wildcats have won eight straight games since losing three in a row to Class 2A Ore City (45-18), Class 3A Gladewater Sabine (17-14) and Gilmer Union Hill (7-3) in their District 19-1A opener.
Big Sandy has averaged 27 points per game this season, while surrendering an average of 10.5 points per game. The Wildcats have captured playoff wins over Joaquin (22-14), Celeste (46-7), Groveton (24-21) and Harleton (10-0).
"They're a lot like Chilton," Cerny said of Shiner's regional playoff opponent. "They have size and speed and they're run-oriented. They run the veer like we do, but they run it out the I and they'll give you a lot of double tight end looks."
Cerny will count on defensive coordinator Billy Turek to make the proper calls against the Big Sandy offense.
"I'm sure he'll draw on the lessons we learned against Chilton and Brackett," Cerny said of Turek. "We're fortunate that he's seen those kind of offenses and knows how to make adjustments. But it still comes down to playing good technique and controlling the guy in front of you."
Cerny knows Shiner has to control the line of scrimmage on offense, and realizes it's crucial for the Comanches not to repeat the mistakes they made against Brackett, where they fumbled five times and lost two.
"Turnovers almost killed us last week," Cerny said. "We know we can't afford to do that again at this stage of the playoffs."
Last week's turnovers may have slowed the Shiner offense, but couldn't stop it. The Comanches have averaged over 40 points per game during the playoffs, which has included wins over Benavides (44-0), Charlotte (37-7), Chilton (24-7) and Brackett.
Shiner running back Chris Baer has rushed for 1,901 yards and 37 touchdowns, while quarterback Trey Curtis has added 742 yards and five touchdowns.
"We're still going to run our veer and the pitch," Cerny said. "Teams that stick to what they've been doing tend to be successful. You've got to have confidence in your system."
Shiner's system carried it to the state final last season, and has the Comanches in position to return to the state championship game.
"We don't overdo things early in the season," Cerny said. "We prepare for the long-haul. I think we're peaking. I don't see tired legs. We're over the hump. The excitement of getting the chance to play for another state championship is there."
NOTES: Shiner will be the visiting team ... Tickets at the Floyd Casey Stadium gate will be $4 for students and $8 for adults ... The Shiner-Big Sandy game will be broadcast on KTXM, 99.9 FM, and will be broadcast on the internet at tsrnsports.com ... Shiner won the Class 2A state championship in 1986 ... Big Sandy won the Class B state championship in 1973 and 1975 and was co-champion in 1974 ... Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith was an all-state end and linebacker on Big Sandy's 1973, '74 and '75 teams ... The Shiner-Big Sandy winner will play the winner of Friday night's Windthorst-Stratford game in the state final (Stratford won 34-31) ... Windthorst defeated Shiner 28-27 in last year's state final.