Stratford had the lead for 15 seconds.
Shiner's Chris Baer (10) breaks loose on his 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. T.C. Baker/Victoria Advocate
But Chris Baer's 88-yard kickoff return put Shiner in command Saturday night, and the Comanches rolled to a 33-19 win over the Elks in the Class A state championship game at Memorial Stadium.
No. 1 Shiner, which lost by one point to Windthorst in the title game last year, completed a perfect 16-0 season. The state title was the first for the Comanches since 1986 when they won a Class 2A state championship.
Stratford ended its season at 13-3.
The Elks took the lead on an 88-yard pass from Josh King to Tony Ruiz with 6:48 to play in the first quarter, but Baer wiped that out with his big return. The senior shook off an attempted tackle by Tyler Haynes 34 yards from the end zone.
"That kickoff was huge," Shiner coach Steven Cerny said. "The momentum swung back our way again. In a big game like this, momentum is everything."
The kickoff return was just a sneak preview of what was to come - a whole lot of Chris Baer.
Dave Campbell's Texas Football Class A player of the year carried 21 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns. As a linebacker on defense, Baer had eight tackles, including a pair of sacks.
His 28-yard run with 2:55 left in the first quarter gave the Comanches a lead they would never relinquish.
Stratford got on the board first in the second quarter on King's 8-yard touchdown run, but a 6-yard run by Baer gave the Comanches a 21-13 halftime lead.
The Elks held the ball for more than 16 minutes of the second half but only got into the end zone once, thanks to a solid effort by the Shiner defense - especially nose guard Dustin Pohler and Baer - and three turnovers.
"In the second half, it seemed like we never had the ball," said Cerny, whose team only had it for seven minutes and 42 seconds.
"But our defense has stepped it up all year, and they came through when we needed it."
Pohler had 10 tackles and 3 1/2 sacks for that defense.
King ran for his second touchdown, this one from 3 yards out, with 3:37 left in the third quarter to pull Stratford to within 21-19.
But just like Baer had done with the kickoff return in the first quarter, the Comanches got it back in a hurry.
A 37-yard kickoff return Chase O'Connor set the Comanches up at the 36, and they covered that in just one play with Trey Curtis connecting with Nick Evans for the TD.
That was the only completion of the night for Shiner, which threw just three passes.
Stratford's second fumble of the second half came late in the final quarter and Baer put the game away with his fourth touchdown of the evening, a 1-yard run.
Baer finished the season with 2,120 rushing yards and 40 rushing touchdowns.