SAN ANTONIO — Shiner has carried the mantle of being the top-ranked Class 2A, Division I team in the state through the season.
Shiner’s Tyler Palmer & teammates celebrate their victory over Refugio during Friday’s Class 2A, Division I quarterfinal round at the Alamodome. all photos by Emree Weaver, Victoria Advocate photojournalist
Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker wanted the Comanches to approach their quarterfinal game against Refugio in the same manner.
“This was our senior group,” Boedeker said. “The maturity those guys have and the determination they have. We came so close last year and we came up short.
“We had a lot of those guys back. They handled it really well. We told them there was no pressure — you just have to go do the things that you do, and good things can happen for you.”
Shiner responded by playing four quarters of physical, turnover-free football and came away with a 24-13 quarterfinal win Friday at the Alamodome.
The Comanches improved to 12-0 with their second win over the Bobcats (11-1) in eight tries, and first playoff victory against Refugio.
Shiner moved into the semifinals for the first time since 2013 and will play Timpson, a 55-14 winner over Beckville on Friday night.
“We knew it was going to come down to the trenches today,” Boedeker said. “Our offensive line, I’m really proud of those guys. There was nothing easy about that. Refugio has a great defense, and we knew that coming in.
“We told our guys 3 or 4 yards is really good for us,” he continued. “That first drive was huge. We got a lot of time off the clock, and we felt like our offensive line was giving us everything they had, our backs ran hard, I’m really proud of our coaches for the plan they had. It was a great effort by everybody.”
The Comanches rushed for 229 yards and scored on runs of 3 yards by Zane Rhodes in the first quarter, 1 yard by Tyler Palmer in the second quarter, and 7 yards by Doug Brooks in the fourth quarter, before a 25-yard field goal by Connor Winkenwerder with 32 seconds left sealed the win.
“It was definitely up front,” said Shiner running back Dalton Brooks. “We came in wanting to run the ball. We ran it and we threw it a little bit and saw that wasn’t working. So we did what we do best and ran the ball.”
The Comanches took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards in 16 plays, while taking 7 minutes, 29 seconds off the clock.
“We did what we practiced all week,” said running back/defensive lineman Doug Brooks. “We played out the whole game. We stayed physical throughout the entire game.”
Refugio scored on runs of 54 yards by Jordan Kelley, and 1 yard by Zavien Wills.
“They’re a really good defense,” said Kelley, who had 130 all-purpose yards but missed the fourth quarter after suffering an apparent concussion. “Coming in the game, I felt like we had a great game plan, but I think we could have executed it a little better.”
The Bobcats went 1 for 3 on fourth-down conversions, and missed an extra point after a delay of game penalty.
Refugio also lost a fumble after driving to the Shiner 18 when quarterback Caleb Hesseltine was sacked by Zane Rhodes, and A.J. Patek recovered at the Comanches’ 27-yard line.
“They were real hard to run the ball against,” said Refugio coach Jason Herring. “No one has controlled their front. We thought our best shot was to throw the football or go outside. They’re hard to throw the ball to because they’re hard to pass protect. We had a chance to score, and we fumbled. They’re just a great team. They’ve got it all, and they have a great chance of winning it all.”
Shiner punter Michael Williams pinned Refugio at its 2- and 1-yard lines, and the second punt turned into Palmer’s touchdown run with 27 seconds left in the second quarter when an 18-yard punt set the Comanches up at the Refugio 19-yard line.
“Those two punts and the shanked punt and them making the field goal,” Herring said. “Close games come down to special teams. Hats off to them. We had our chances. We just didn’t get it done.”
Refugio tried an onside kick after pulling within 21-13 with 6:46 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But Shiner recovered and drove to the Refugio 8 to set up Winkenwerder’s kick.
“That last drive we had a couple of third-down conversions that were huge, and we had a couple of punts by Michael Williams that were really big,” Boedeker said. “It was all the little things we talk about when you get to this stage of the game how important they are.”
Shiner was happy to avenge last season’s gut-wrenching 45-43 regional playoff loss to Refugio. But the Comanches have bigger goals in mind.
“Last year, we let it slip,” Doug Brooks said. “We waited 372 days for this moment. The win felt great. We got this out of the way, and now we’ve got two more.”
GAME STATISTICSsource: Victoria Advocate Game Statistics, December 4, 2020 Shiner 24, Refugio 13 UIL Class 2A, Division I State Quarterfinal Playoff December 4, 2020 @ 1:00 p.m. The Alamodome, San Antonio SCORING SUMMARY 1 2 3 4 F Shiner 7 7 0 10 -- 24 Refugio 7 0 0 6 -- 13 SCORING DETAILS: Shiner Refugio First Quarter Shiner: Zane Rhodes 3 run (Connor Winkenwerder kick), 4:31 7 0 Refugio: Jordan Kelley 54 run (Alex Placencia kick), 3:37 7 7 END 1Q Second Quarter Shiner: Tyler Palmer 1 run (Winkenwerder kick), 0:27 14 7 END 2Q Third Quarter no score 14 7 END 3Q Fourth Quarter Shiner: Doug Brooks 7 run (Winkenwerder kick), 9:14 21 7 Refugio: Zavien Wills 1 run (kick failed), 6:46 21 13 Shiner: Winkenwerder 25 field goal, 0:32 24 13 FINAL TEAM STATISTICS: Shiner Refugio First downs 17 11 Yards rushing 51-229 24-88 Yards passing 0 132 Passes 0-3-0 11-22-0 Punts 3-120 2-58 Fumbles-lost 0-0 1-1 Penalty-yards 7-29 7-54 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS: Rushing Shiner: Tyler Palmer 15-66, Zane Rhodes 14-65, Doug Brooks 12-56, Dalton Brooks 8-36, Trevor Haynes 3-6. Refugio: Jordan Kelley 9-96, Zavien Wills 5-16, Dezmon Brown 2-(-2), Caleb Hesseltine 7-(-17), Team 1-(-5). Passing Shiner: Palmer 0-3-0-0-0; Refugio: Hesseltine 9-20-98-0-0, Kelley 2-2-34-0-0. Receiving Shiner: none. Refugio: Antwaan Gross 5-52, Ty LaFrance 2-27, Michael Thomas 1-23, Allen Perez 1-10, Ethan Perez 1-9, Kyler Brown 1-1;
Mike Forman is the sports editor of the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588 or email@example.com
Emree Weaver is chief photographer at the Victoria Advocate.
Contact her at 361-580-6584 or firstname.lastname@example.org.