The final week of the regular season is over two months away.
Shiner's Dadrian Taylor catches a pass during an early 2016 season practice.
[ NOTE: click on photo to enlarge ]
photo by Jaime R. Carrero for The Victoria Advocate
But Shiner running back Dadrian Taylor is already anticipating the Comanches' District 15-2A, Division I game against Refugio.
"I love playing against Refugio," Taylor said. "Just the atmosphere. What's in the air when you play against them is totally different. It's like a state game pretty much."
Refugio linebacker Kobie Herring played in the state final last year, but found the Bobcats' games against Shiner to be just as intense.
"Those guys play as hard as they can, we play as hard as we can, and it's always a really intense game," Herring said. "They give it their all and we give it our all. It's just a really good game for both of us."
Shiner and Refugio have played a total of three times in the history of the tradition-rich schools, who have combined to win five state championships.
But the rivalry already ranks among the best in the state at any classification.
Refugio comes into the season ranked No. 1 in the state's Class 2A poll and Shiner is ranked No. 3.
"Everybody asks me, 'Who's y'alls rival?'" said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "The old timers would say, 'Woodsboro.' Heck, I've never played Woodsboro.
"Our rivals there for a while were the Rice Raiders and East Bernard. That was kind of who we kept hitting over and over. But now, it's no doubt, it's Shiner."
The teams went to overtime before Refugio pulled out a 34-28 decision at Refugio's Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium in 2014 and went on to win the district championship.
Shiner came back and claimed a 30-19 win last season at Shiner's Comanche Stadium and won the district championship.
The teams met again in the quarterfinals at Alamo Stadium in San Antonio with Refugio winning 17-14 before advancing to the state final.
"Look back at the three games," said Shiner coach Steven Cerny. "They were all well-fought and close games. That just goes to show how competitive both of us are."
Refugio vs. Shiner Games
October 11, 2014:
Refugio 34, Shiner 28, OT (district)
October 10, 2015:
Shiner 30, Refugio 19 (district)
December 12, 2015:
Refugio 17, Shiner 14 (quarterfinal)
The rivalry has grown in part due to the teams' contrast in styles.
The Comanches have relied on their veer offense, while the Bobcats have been a spread team in recent years.
"I think it does," Cerny said. There's no doubt about it. Of course, listening to them this year they may change their style up a little bit. But you know they still have their one-back spread stuff in as well.
"One thing we do take a lot of pride in, in Shiner, is playing defense and that's still where we start at it. We feel like if our defense gives us opportunities and field position we have a chance to win the game."
The games have been hard-hitting, physical contests.
"We've played three times and they've been battles," Jason Herring said. "I can tell you they are awesomely coached - that staff's been together for years. They're very simple and very fundamental. They've got great athletes and kids who are disciplined. They are just hard to beat."
The players look forward to playing in a big-game atmosphere that resembles the playoffs.
"You have two really good teams who like to compete against each other and you've got a big turnout with the crowds," said Shiner quarterback Brandon Cerny. "It's definitely a game that you look forward to on the schedule. That's probably what makes it the best."
"It's crazy," Kobie Herring said. "It's only three games and it's already that big of a deal. Everyone anticipates that game. That's the game of the year almost every year."
This season's district game will be played Nov. 4 at Comanche Stadium.
The teams could meet again in the postseason.
"Refugio's been one of the top schools like forever," Taylor said. "We have a little tradition going in Shiner. It just keeps going back and forth. You never know who's going to come out on top."
"They're a real good team and we're a real good team," said Refugio lineman Trace Mascorro, "whoever shows up is going to win."
|Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com|