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Shiner's Stafford craves berth in state title game

By Victoria Advocate
Dec. 13, 2012 at 6:13 a.m.

Shiner's Jacob Stafford plays quarterback during preseason practices this season. He has settled in as a linebacker and running back this season.

If there is a collision anywhere around the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex in Round Rock on Friday night, it's best to blame Jacob Stafford.

The junior linebacker and halfback for Shiner is someone who is always looking for contact when he's on the football field. Friday night, Stafford and the rest of the Comanches will play Mart (11-2) in the Class 1A, Division I semifinals.

One reason why Shiner (12-1) has returned to the semifinals for the fifth time in school history has been the selflessness of its junior halfback.

Stafford was the quarterback last year, when the Comanches lost in the quarterfinals, but was moved so senior Trev Flowers could be more involved with the offense. Head coach Steve Cerny said the move was what benefitted the entire team.

"We knew we had to get Flowers more involved in our offense," Cerny said about his quarterback. "If we had him at wide receiver we would not be able to utilize him as much."

Stafford speculates he put on 15 pounds in the offseason, to tip the scale at 215 pounds, in preparation for the switch.

"Quarterback is more of a finesse position I'd say, just because you have to run the whole offense and you have to get people lined up," Stafford said. "At running back, I really just prepared by putting on weight. It goes along better with the linebacker position because you can put on more weight and be ready for more contact."

It turns out the switch suited the Stafford and Flowers perfectly. Flowers has 1,000 rushing yards and 20 offensive touchdowns. Stafford has averages 7.1 yards per carry as a backfield bulldozer and has scored 15 touchdowns.

"Even at quarterback I was looking for contact when I would run the ball," Stafford said. "This year, that's what my position is designed for, to go look for contact and get in the end zone. I think it fits my personality and body type."

The specifics of Stafford's body type probably don't matter too much to Shiner fans, because he consistently finds ways to help the Comanches win. Defensively, he is one of four players with three interceptions on the season.

"Stafford could play just about anywhere you need him," Cerny said. "If you need a center, you could put him at center. If you need a tackle, you could put him at tackle. He's one of those special guys."

Stafford said he emulates his on-field persona after his older brother, Drew, a former Shiner quarterback, who will "definitely" be at Friday's game in Round Rock.

"I remember watching him when I was in eighth grade," Stafford recalled. "He was always fired up. He was always moving. He never was jogging on the field, he was always sprinting. He had a great motor and I like to copy that and try to compare to his stature."

It's possible future Comanches will try to emulate Jacob, considering he is in line to be the valedictorian of the Class of 2014.

Having such a cerebral player as the captain of the defense and relaying the concoctions of defensive coordinator Billy Turek has its advantages.

Shiner has allowed 22 points in three playoff games. It's a defensive performance that may remind some of the 1986 team that posted four shutouts in six games en route to the Class 2A state championship.

Stafford said he prefers the defensive side of the ball. However, he is adamant Shiner's stout defense has been the product of the defensive linemen, the secondary and fellow linebacker Max Huth as much as his own play.

"It's something about it," Stafford said when asked why he prefers defense. "You can't put a finger on what it is. .Getting to tackle the ball carrier and inflict pain."

If this year's Comanches want to emulate the heights of Shiner's first championship-winning squad they have to beat Mart Friday - the team school Shiner shut out 18-0 to win the 1986 crown.

"You're two weeks away and you're so close to your goal at the beginning of the season," Stafford said. "The state championship is mainly the big thing."

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