SHINER - Before every game, senior running back Marcus Coleman eats five bananas and then eats two more at halftime.
Senior running back Marcus Coleman fights through the Thorndale defense in Shiner's 14-10 win in last week's state quarterfinal game. Coleman returned from a serious knee injury to play a big role in the Comanches' playoff run this season.
[ NOTE: click any photo to enlarge ]
all photos by Frank Tilley, Victoria Advocate
Sometimes, he'll sub in pineapples, but it's rare.
"It works," Coleman said. "Ya gotta have that potassium."
That extra potassium helps with leg cramps, but the Friday night ritual helps remind Coleman as well as the rest of the Comanches that their next game is like any other game, regardless of how deep they are into playoffs.
"We haven't looked past anybody," said Shiner coach Steven Cerny. "We've got some great players that really work hard. To beat the next opponent, we have to give 100 percent, and we've got to get three really good days of practice in, and that's what this group has done this year."
The Comanches (10-3) will have a second chance to get to the 1A state championship game Friday night when they square off against Mart (10-3) at the Reeves Complex in Round Rock.
The Panthers are the team that beat Shiner 42-7 in the state semifinal game last year.
Cerny calls the rematch a blessing.
"You hope you get that second chance, and things fell together, and we got the opportunity again," he said. "It's a different team. A lot of the guys weren't there (last year). We got another chance at it, so you have to count your blessings."
For Coleman, this will be his first chance to play against Mart after missing last year's matchup because of an injury. He plans to leave it all out on the field.
Senior running back Marcus Coleman looks for a running lane during Shiner's 14-10 victory over Thorndale in last week's state quarterfinal victory.
The track star tore both his posterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament during a game last season, which meant that he had to sit out for most of the playoffs, including the game against Mart.
"I was sitting there, just watching and seeing what they were doing, and I couldn't do anything about it," Coleman said. "This is my first full year playing, having fun and getting a piece of it."
Being benched during the most critical part of any team's season was difficult for him.
"Being injured, all you can do is rehab, pray and just be there for you team any way you can," Coleman said.
Though completely healed, Coleman's injury came back to haunt him at the beginning of this season.
"That first game of the season, in my first run, I was scared of getting hurt again. My first instinct was that I was going to get hurt again," Coleman said. "(Coach) Cerny took me aside and said 'Marcus, if you run scared, it's going to happen again. You gotta run hard and have no worries.' That's how I've been trying to play the rest of the season - just have no worries."
Cerny said that one of Coleman's best qualities is his ability to play his part in the system.
"He keeps his feet moving when he runs, and he comes with a good shoulder lean," Cerny said. "We come very balanced in our approach - sometimes it's Marcus, sometimes it's been Chad (Neubauer), or it could be Jacob (Stafford). We never just lean on one person."
In the four weeks since playoffs started, Coleman has rushed 42 times for 218 yards - 102 of those yards were in Shiner's 35-0 game against Flatonia in the bi-district round.
Coleman has a few things go through his mind before every game.
"Coach Cerny says that any game can be our last, and we've got to push it every game," he said. "You've got family in the stands yelling for you. That's who I play for - I play for my family, for my coaches and for myself."
One familiar face in the stands on Friday night will be Coleman's older brother, Casey. Casey, a 2004 Shiner graduate, went to the state championship game his senior season. The Comanches lost that game by a field goal.
"He was so close, seeing him come home and crying. ... I was little, but I still knew what was going on - it killed me," Coleman said. "Now, I have to work at it as much as I can."
With Shiner's second chance in two years to make the state championship, Coleman and the Comanches need no additional motivation.
"A new energy level comes out, and it just gets more exciting," Cerny said about playoffs. "It's a bonding that takes place that makes it really special and so much fun."
Julie Garcia is a sports writer for The Victoria Advocate.
Contact her at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at email@example.com.