SHINER - There aren't too many running backs in the state that have rushed for 2,000 yards this season, but the Shiner Comanches will see one today.
Shiner coach Steven Cerny, second from left, goes over details with his quarterbacks. The Comanches face Junction today in a Class 1A, Division I quarterfinal playoff in Georgetown. Photo Credit: Paul Ebner/Advocate Staff
Dustin Stapp ran for 356 yards and six touchdowns last week in Junction's 51-12 win over La Villa, and comes into the Eagles' Class 1A, Division I quarterfinal game against Shiner with 2,355 yards on the season.
"They aren't a one-man team by any stretch, but he's a very good running back," said Shiner defensive end Dalton Handley of Stapp. "He's stout, and if we are able to shut him down then I think good things will happen for us."
The two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. at the Georgetown ISD Athletic Complex, with the winner advancing to play the winner of the Alto-Mart game in the semifinals next week.
"We are going to have to gang tackle him," Shiner head coach Steven Cerny said. "He's big and he has speed, so our defense will have its hands full with him. They like to run the sweep, and he likes to run north and south, so we have to take that away from them."
The Comanches (9-1), coming off a 33-7 regional win over Goldwaite, are looking to advance past the third round of the playoffs for the first time since winning the Class 1A state championship in 2004.
Shiner lost last season to Granger in a quarterfinal game in Buda, and have used the third-round defeat as motivation.
"We have really been focused on trying to get better and to get past that point," Cerny said. "We have to take it one game at a time, but our kids really want to get past this round this year. It's something we can do."
Shiner will look to control the ball with its running game as well. Josh Greathouse is coming off a 160-yard rushing performance against Goldthwaite, including a 52-yard touchdown run. Adam Kalich also had a big running game, going for 138 yards in a game where Shiner didn't commit a turnover.
In the Comanches' loss to Granger last season, turnovers were the problem. Shiner lost four fumbles in that loss to Granger, and knows that turnovers can't be committed against Junction.
"It's really important for us to hold on to the ball in this game," Shiner quarterback Matthew Hibbs said. "We can't have turnovers when we are on offense, but hopefully our defense can come up with some big plays and get us the ball. I think if we control the ball, we should come out on top."
Shiner's lone blemish came in the last week of the regular season with a loss to Burton. Cerny calls the loss a wake up call for his team, and has been excited about the way the Comanches have responded since the loss.
"We have been playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm," Cerny said. "I think we've bounced back from our loss against Burton, and we may be playing our best football right now. I feel good about our team."
Wes Bloomquist is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6509, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.