SHINER - This is a rebuilding year for Shiner.
Shiner coach Steven Cerny, middle, observes his players perform hitting drills during Wednesday's ( August 16, 2017 ) practice at Shiner's practice field. all photos by Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate
The Comanches have about half their starters back on defense and do not have a single starter back at the same position on offense.
But any suggestion of Shiner missing the playoffs for the first time since 1997 is quickly put to rest.
"It's never a down year in Shiner," said senior Cole Jalufka. "We are always surprising somebody. There is always going to be an upset somewhere. That's what we're focusing on this year."
Jalufka will move from guard to tight end, but hasn't had any problem making the adjustment.
"I already came into high school knowing the offense and knowing what we were going to run," he said. "It's all been the same. It helps. Repetition builds what we need."
Shiner coach Steven Cerny has no doubt the players' familiarity with the veer offense has made the transition easier for inexperienced players.
Shiner sophomore Donyai Taylor, right, waits to make a catch during practice Wednesday ( August 16, 2017 ) at Shiner's practice field.
"That's the benefit of it," Cerny said. "They get it from the seventh grade on. It's the base plays that are our bread and butter. We've still got a long ways to go. It's still different once you get to varsity. The game's so much quicker. We're asking some kids to step up, and they may not be physically ready. We're going to do our best, and we'll do OK."
Jalufka expects the seniors to play a big role in preparing the underclassmen for varsity competition.
"We come out here this year with six strong seniors," he said. "We're trying to teach everybody out here that we have to play with our hearts this year. We have a lot of young guys who are very scarce in experience, so we have to work straight from the heart."
Shiner senior Cole Jalufka, right, defends against a teammate during practice Wednesday ( August 16, 2017 ) at Shiner's practice field.
Shiner is not only going to have to overcome inexperience, but the loss of longtime defensive coordinator Billy Turek.
Turek, who was named the assistant coach of the year by Dave Campbell's Texas Football after the 2015 season, has retired.
Cerny knows new coordinator Daniel Boedeker is well-versed in the defense, but admits Turek will be impossible to replace.
The Shiner staff has been doing a lot of teaching as they prepare for a non-district schedule that includes Class 3A Goliad, Hallettsville and Hitchcock and Class 2A Falls City.
"We're just concentrating on basics more than anything and making sure that we're doing the fundamental stuff right," Cerny said. "Our veer is still a good offense. We don't have to do a whole lot beyond that."
One area Cerny hasn't had to worry about is the Comanches' attitude and work ethic.
"We're down, but we're not," he said. "They've come out here working hard. We've had good summer workouts from a majority of them. It may take a little time, but we're going to put the puzzle together."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for The Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6588, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olivia Vanni is a multimedia intern for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact her at 361-575-1451 or email@example.com.