Most Valuable Player
Shiner coach Steven Cerny had no qualms about giving the ball to Chris Baer with the Comanches trailing 17-14 and facing a third-and-goal at the Big Sandy 2-yard line with 29.6 seconds remaining in their Class 1A semifinal game at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
It didn't matter to Cerny that Baer had missed the previous two plays after getting the wind knocked out of him, that Shiner was out of timeouts, or that the Big Sandy defenders were expecting Baer to get the ball. Cerny wanted the ball in the senior's hands with the game on the line.
"It's like when you need an extra big play, he's going to do it," Cerny said of Baer. "You just know he's going to do it. He's definitely a gamer."
Baer broke away from two Big Sandy defenders and bulled into the end zone for the decisive score in Shiner's 21-17 win, and came back a week later to rush for 128 yards and three touchdowns and returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, while recording eight tackles and two sacks, and blocked an extra point in the Comanches' 33-19 state final win over Stratford at Wichita Falls' Memorial Stadium.
"I try to go full speed all the time," said the 6-foot, 200-pound Baer. "I guess your body takes over once in a while. But you've got to have the determination to know you can make a play when you need to make a play."
Baer made more than his share of big plays to help Shiner go 16-0 this season and claim its second state championship while paving the way for his selection as the Most Valuable Player of the Victoria Advocate's 2004 All-Area Football Team.
Baer shared MVP honors with Shiner quarterback Garet Pustka and running back/defensive back Quentin Wright last season when the Comanches advanced to the state final. But Pustka and Wright did not return this season and Baer took on a bigger role at both running back and linebacker.
Baer responded by rushing for 2,120 yards and 40 touchdowns, passing for 121 yards and one touchdown, scoring 252 points, while recording 144 tackles, including 13 sacks, and intercepting two passes.
"I knew the team would rely on me to run the ball a lot, so I tried to step it up a notch," Baer said. "As you gain more experience, you learn how to break tackles and keep your feet. As a team, we had to learn to work together. As the season went on, we learned how to work together and I was definitely happy with the results."
Baer had already won two state championships as a member of the 2002 and 2004 Shiner baseball teams, but was even happier to be a part of the Comanches' first state title in football since 1986.
"It was kind of cool because a lot of the team members were born in that year," Baer said of the 1986 Class 2A state title. "Winning state in baseball was a big thing, but it's even bigger in football. Everybody in Shiner gets into football. To go undefeated and win state in football is the best thing we could do for our town."
Coach of the Year
Steven Cerny coached Shiner to two state baseball titles (Class 2A in 1992 and Class 1A in 2002) and came close to winning a state championship in football last season, when he was selected as the Coach of the Year of the all-area team.
Cerny added a state football championship to his resume this season and claimed Coach of the Year honors for the second straight year. The other finalists were Cuero's Mark Reeve and Hallettsville's Kyle Taylor.
"It was great coaching these guys," said Cerny, who has a 41-4 record in his three seasons as the head coach at Shiner. "They never got real excited and took a more business-like approach. The expectations in town were pretty high. We weren't taking anything for granted, but we knew our chances were there."
Newcomer of the Year
Wharton coach Russell Roberts expected sophomore wide receiver Jamial Shelton to play a role in the Tigers' offense this season, but he wasn't sure how big of a role.
Shelton displayed the savvy of a veteran by catching 51 passes for 844 yards and eight touchdowns to be selected as the Newcomer of the Year.
"Jamial doesn't get nervous. He just seems to handle everything," Roberts said of Shelton, who is the younger brother of former Wharton receiver Lester Shelton, who plays at Temple. "You could just see the confidence he gained and the confidence that (quarterback) Trey (Jones) had in him. They had a good feel for each other. He has great enough speed and he's very difficult to control on a vertical route. He's also agile enough to make the cuts and hurt you on the cutting routes like the slants.
"There are two factors that make him so good," Roberts added. "One is the fact that he is so physical and as a sophomore you don't expect that. He doesn't always have to be open if he can out-physical people. The other thing is he is much faster than he looks. He has kind of a deep-knee action when he strides. He may look slow, but he's consuming a lot of ground. On screens, he's so dangerous after he catches the ball."
Offensive Player of the Year
Cuero's run to the Class 3A, Division I state final was led by the steady hand of senior quarterback Matt Schumacher. Schumacher completed 122 of his 196 passes (62.2 percent) for 1,915 yards and 19 touchdowns with only six interceptions, while rushing for 527 yards and eight touchdowns to lead the Gobblers to a 15-1 record and to be chosen as Offensive Player of the Year.
Lineman of the Year
Much of Cuero's and Schumacher's yardage was the result of an offensive line that included senior Ross Nigh. The 6-foot-5, 285-pound Nigh graded out at 96 percent and had 55 pancake blocks without allowing a sack to be named as Lineman of the Year.
Defensive Player of the Year
Hallettsville won more games this season than any team in school history, while compiling a 12-2 record and advancing to the Class 3A, Division II quarterfinals. The Brahmas' success was built on their defense, which was anchored by senior safety Dustin Pekar.
Pekar was an inspirational leader, who had 83 tackles, two interceptions, one fumble recovery, and returned two punts for touchdowns to be selected as Defensive Player of the Year.
All-Around Player of the Year
Bay City's season came to a disappointing end in a Class 4A, Division II bi-district playoff loss to La Marque. But it didn't diminish the effort of junior Cordero Williams.
Williams played wide receiver, defensive back and returned kicks for the Blackcats. He even punted nine times for a 34.9-yard average. Williams had 31 receptions for 692 yards and eight touchdowns, rushed 11 times for 127 yards and one touchdown, returned 11 punts for a 20.3-yard average with two touchdowns, had 11 kickoff returns for a 24.6-yard average, had 23 tackles, intercepted six passes and broke up 22, and blocked one kick to be selected All-Around Player of the Year.
All-Area Team Player Selections
Cuero had four selections on the first-team offense, while El Campo and Van Vleck each had two.
The offensive line included Cuero seniors Bryan Weaver and Roy Sierra, senior Larvell Roy, who rushed for 1,579 yards and 15 touchdowns, was selected at running back, and senior Jeremy Ross, who caught 41 passes for 697 yards and eight touchdowns and had four interceptions, including one for a touchdown, and 34 tackles, was selected as a utility player.
El Campo senior Kyle Gillis was chosen at center and senior Chad Long, who rushed for 1,835 yards and 17 touchdowns, was picked at running back.
Van Vleck senior Chris Hudgins, who had 45 pin blocks to go with 23 receptions for 354 yards and four touchdowns and is expected to attend Missouri, was selected at tight end, and senior William Thompson, who had 27 catches for 693 yards and eight touchdowns and accumulated 1,200 all-purpose yards on 59 touches, was picked at wide receiver.
The offensive line also included Shiner senior Clayton McCorkle and Memorial junior Matt Short.
Yoakum junior Brett Brittain, who had 50 receptions for 888 yards and 10 touchdowns, was selected at wide receiver.
The quarterback was Wharton's Jones, a senior who passed for 2,291 yards and 26 touchdowns, and rushed for 717 yards and seven touchdowns.
Hallettsville junior Parris Brown, who rushed for 1,783 yards and 25 touchdowns, was selected at running back.
Schulenburg freshman Carlos Lara, who made 26 extra points and five field goals, including a long of 42 yards and two game winners, was chosen at kicker.
Bay City had three selections on the first-team defense, while Memorial and Cuero each had two. Bay City senior Jaudis Eaton, who had 85 tackles, including 31 for a loss and nine sacks, four caused fumbles and three blocked kicks, was chosen on the defensive line; senior Terrance Flagg, who had 103 tackles, including 12 for a loss and three sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and one interception, was picked at linebacker; and senior Brandon Brinkley, who had 50 tackles, one forced fumble, three fumble recoveries and one fumble return for a touchdown, and four interceptions and one touchdown return, was named in the secondary.
Memorial senior Patrick Alvarez, who had 183 tackles, 3 1/2 sacks, one fumble recovery, and one interception, was selected at linebacker, and senior Kendrick Cunningham, who had six interceptions and two touchdown returns and 43 tackles, was picked in the secondary.
Cuero junior John Thomas Rudd, who had 65 tackles, including eight for a loss, five sacks and one fumble recovery, was named at defensive end, and senior Casey Harryman, who had 119 tackles, three fumble recoveries, and one interception was chosen at linebacker.
Shiner senior Dustin Pohler, who had 101 tackles, including 7 1/2 sacks, one caused fumble and two fumble recoveries, and Flatonia senior Galen Dunk, who had 83 tackles, including 4 1/2 sacks, forced four turnovers, and had one interception, were picked on the defensive line.
Hallettsville junior Preston Fredrich, who had 138 tackles, caused three fumbles, recovered two, and had one interception, was selected at linebacker.
El Campo senior Arkeith Brown, who has committed to Texas A&M and had four interceptions despite teams throwing to the other side of the field over 80 percent of the time, and Yorktown freshman Bronson Buzzard, who had an area-leading 10 interceptions, 72 tackles, one caused fumble, and two fumble recoveries, were named in the secondary.
Refugio senior Ray John Silvas, who returned 10 kickoffs for a 30.5-yard average and three touchdowns, and returned 10 punts for a 13.2-yard average, was chosen as the first-team returner.
Industrial senior Trent Pesek, who had a 38.6-yard average and placed six punts inside the 15-yard line, was selected at punter.