SHINER - Shiner didn't have school Monday, but the football team practiced.
Shiner quarterback Tyler Mikes throws a pass to Cross Rankin during the Comanches' practice Monday.
[ click on any photo to enlarge ]
all photos by Nicolas Galindo for The Victoria Advocate
Not getting the day off didn't bother quarterback Tyler Mikes.
"It's just another opportunity for us to get better," Mikes said. "We come out here and work hard every day."
The Comanches' willingness to work hard has played a pivotal role in their 3-1 start to the season.
Shiner did not have a single starter back at the same position on offense.
But the Comanches bounced back from a season-opening loss to Hallettsville and defeated Brazos, Falls City and Hitchcock.
"We came into the season and not a lot of people thought we were going to be good," Mikes said. "We've gone out there and shown we deserve to play with the rest of them on Friday nights."
Shiner coach Steven Cerny isn't surprised with the team's progress given its willingness to do what's necessary to improve.
"Not with the way this group worked," he said. "We've gotten a lot of help from some younger kids who put in some time in the offseason, and they're getting some looks on the scout team in practice. We don't have an outstanding athlete, but we have a bunch of good ones who have really worked hard and gotten better."
Mikes, a junior, played quarterback on the junior varsity but started last season at cornerback.
He understood it would take some time for him to become comfortable at the position.
"It's a whole lot of adjustments," Mikes said. "You get out there on a Friday night and the band's playing and the crowd is going crazy. You've got to stay focused, make sure you remember every play, know what to do, make your reads and just have fun also."
Mikes made great strides in the Comanches' 35-28 win over Class 3A, Division I Hitchcock - a team that beat them 22-20 last season.
Tyler Mikes throws a pass during Shiner's practice.
[ click on any photo to enlarge ]
"He's done well," Cerny said of Mikes, who has run for four touchdowns and thrown for one. "In fact, the Hitchcock game was his best game yet. He really came around. He started reading the veer really well. We had the triple option working, and he showed a lot of maturity in that game."
Cerny sees the offense as a work in progress as the players become more comfortable in their positions and roles.
"We've still been able to do our base stuff like we've always done," he said. "We haven't been able to expand as much as I'd like. We have a lot of trips stuff and stuff we did last year, but they've slowly got there. The open week we've been able to expand a little more. I feel pretty good about where we're at right now."
Another bright spot for Shiner has been the play of its defense.
"One of our weaknesses last year was we were small up front," Cerny said. "Our D-line this year we have four big guys who are athletic and that's given us a lot of help. We've got three linebackers back who have played a couple of years so they have really stepped up."
Shiner opens District 15-2A, Division I play Friday with its homecoming game against Kenedy.
The Comanches are determined to extend a playoff streak that extends back to 1997 - before players on this year's team were born.
"I feel like we're doing a real good job," Mikes said. "Our offensive linemen are working each and every week. I feel like we're progressing every week. Coach is always telling us to come out here and work hard and good things will happen on Friday night."
|Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org|