Shiner coach Steve Cerny has warned his team about getting too caught up in all the gaudy numbers put up by the Falls City offense.
While Cerny wants his team to be prepared to defend against Falls City's potent passing attack, he doesn't want the Comanches to lose sight of what the Beavers are really all about.
"If our kids think Falls City is a finesse team," Cerny said, "they're in for it."
Falls City (7-1, 3-0) comes into today's 7:30 p.m. showdown for the District 30-1A lead against No. 8 Shiner (7-1, 3-0) at Shiner's Comanche Stadium, throwing an average of 22 passes per game.
But the Beavers haven't abandoned the physical style of play that has been their trademark through the years.
"That's what we try to do," said Falls City coach Mark Kirchoff. "Offensively, we're still sort of wishbone-based. Defensively, we pretty much run a 5-2. We're sort of old school. Just because we pass protect, doesn't mean we don't load up and try and be physical." Falls City has passed for 1,669 yards this season, but it has also rushed for 1,429 yards. The Beavers lead the district with an average of 387.3 yards per game.
"They'll run at you if you don't have enough people on the line," Cerny said. "But they do like to throw. They have 6-(foot)-3 and 6-4 guys with speed. They are good targets and their other guys are good possession receivers."
The Falls City offense is dominated by juniors, including quarterback B.J. Sixto, receivers Brandon Moczygemba, Joey Wiatrek and Derek Sturm and running backs Matt Liska and Chris Balser.
"They started making some plays at the end of their sophomore year," Kirchoff said. "This year, we've been able to put the ball in the air and make some plays. Of course, we lost a good running back. But we've kind of done that by committee."
While Shiner has also had success on offense, it has been extremely stingy on defense. The Comanches have yet to surrender a point in district play and are yielding an average of 221 yards per game on the season. In addition, Quentin Wright is leading the area with six interceptions.
"The key for us this year is we've basically been able to keep the same people out," Cerny said. "We had so many injuries last year that we had people playing so many different positions. We feel like we match up pretty well against them. We probably have a little more quickness than anybody they've seen."
Kirchoff is concerned about stopping Shiner's veer offense, led by junior quarterback Garet Pustka and running backs Chris Baer, a sophomore, and Steven Evans, a junior.
"I think they do a great job of mixing it up," Kirchoff said. "They're not going to throw 50 percent of the time, but they will throw 10 to 15 times a game and the way they execute makes them dangerous. You can work your tail off for 15 minutes to hold their running game. But if you mess up on one snap, you can give up a touchdown. I'm real impressed with their schemes."
What has made an impression on both coaches is the way each team comes at its opponent.
"You've got to play physical football and match them blow by blow in the offensive and defensive lines," Cerny said. "I'm not saying you have to always win those match-ups, but you have be able to play with them."
Year in, year out, you've got to play with Shiner," Kirchoff said. "They're going to come off the football, knock you backwards and attack on both sides of the ball. What we have to do is be able to compete with them."
NOTES: Falls City captured a 23-18 win over Shiner last season and gained the top seed in the playoffs. It was a must win for the Beavers, who had opened district play with a loss to Charlotte. ... Falls City can clinch a share of the district title and the top seed in the playoffs with a win over Shiner tonight. ... Shiner would clinch a share of the district title with a win over Falls City, but would not be assured of a playoff berth unless Flatonia loses to winless Runge. Falls City beat Flatonia, 19-13, in the first week of district play.