Billy Turek's enthusiasm missed by Shiner this season
Shiner Comanches vs. Brackett Tigers
Class 1A, Division I area round
7:30 p.m., Friday, Somerset
SHINER - A number of thoughts raced through Billy Turek's mind as he rode in an ambulance from Comanche Stadium to the hospital in Hallettsville.
But one stood out more than any other.
"You remember you've got a family," Turek said. "I want to spend time with my kids and grandkids."
Turek has spent over half his life in football and most of his 38 years in the coaching profession at Shiner High School.
His defenses played a major role in the Comanches winning the 1986 Class 2A state championship and 2004 Class 1A state title.
But Turek, 62, has taken a step back from coaching this season to deal with health issues.
"I miss being down there," Turek said. "But there's a certain part of life when you have to take stock of what you can do."
Turek became dizzy and felt weak before Shiner's season-opening game against Industrial.
The heat was initially thought to be a factor, but Turek was diagnosed with a chemical imbalance that he treats with medication.
He attempted to return for Shiner's third game of the season, but realized he wasn't ready.
"You could tell he just didn't have that energy and quick wit about him," said Shiner athletic director and head football coach Steven Cerny.
Cerny coached under Turek and took his place when Turek retired in 2002 before deciding to return a year later as Cerny's defensive coordinator.
"I know how much he loves it," Cerny said. "He got a double whammy. You miss it because you're sick, and you're sick because you miss it so much."
Daniel Boedeker, who also played for and coached with Turek, took over as defensive coordinator.
"It was an adjustment we had to make and it took a while to get used to changing roles," Boedeker said. "Definitely his knowledge is what you miss. He's probably forgotten more things than I know. Just having him here for those quick answers. That's the biggest thing."
Turek's energetic, hands-on approach endeared him to the players.
"It really hit me hard because he's always been there," said senior defensive lineman Sabino Rodriquez. "He's out there yelling and having a good time, but he also knows a lot about the game."
Turek's absence was felt when Shiner went 2-4 against a non-district schedule that included a Class 3A and four Class 2A teams.
"He is the best coach I have ever been around," Cerny said. "He's just got that way about him to get kids to do things. He makes things fun but at the same time he knows when to get serious and get after it. He's been a great mentor for me and that part was greatly missed."
The Comanches rebounded and went 3-1 in District 15-1A, Division I play, losing by one point to No. 1-ranked Ganado.
Turek has quietly eased his way back into coaching and was in the press box when Shiner opened the playoffs last week with a 35-6 bi-district win over Kenedy.
He won't be in Somerset for Shiner's area playoff against Brackett on Friday, but will scout the Ganado-Goldthwaite game.
"We're trying to involve him as much as we can," Cerny said.
Any involvement Turek has is welcomed by the Comanches.
"It's very important for his health to come first," Rodriquez said. "But he loves the game so much you can tell. It's a good feeling to play for coach Turek."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.