Shiner begins the season ranked No. 1 and Ganado is No. 8 in the Class 2A, Division I state poll.
The Comanches and Indians are coming off successful campaigns, which included trips to the regional round and state quarterfinals, respectively.
But if either team wants to repeat last season’s accomplishments, they’ll have to overcome Flatonia, Weimar and Schulenburg in District 13-2A, Division I.
All five teams in the district are coming off playoff appearances.
“We knew from the moment realignment came out that we were going to have our hands full in district,” said Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker. “It’s one of those things that you have to prepare well each week. The kids can’t take anybody for granted.”
Boedeker and the Comanches return six starters on offense and seven on defense.
Running back Doug Brooks, who rushed for 836 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, returns alongside his brother Dalton Brooks, Zane Rhodes and quarterback Tyler Palmer.
Brock Sestak, A.J. Patek, Max Machacek, Garrett Cowan, Colter Darilek, Christian Wagner, Trevor Haynes and Michael Williams are other key pieces for the Comanches.
Shiner’s offense was fueled by its running game — a big reason why the team found itself in a memorable regional round game against state champion Refugio.
“There are great athletes in our district and there are great coaches in our district,” Boedeker said. “It’s going to make it fun for Friday nights for everybody involved.”
The Indians saw a lot of promise from quarterback Kyle Bures-Guerrero.
Bures-Guerrero, who passed for 2,175 yards and 22 touchdowns, is one of 11 returning players from last season.
Other key players for the Indians include Kansas commit Larson Workman, receiver Riley Hurt, Logan Riojas, Erik Alvarez Jose Ramos, Julian Martinez, Dylan Alvarez, Craig Taylor, Manny Calderon, Erik Alvarez, Noah Thedford and Giovanny Avalos.
“We’re blessed to have the opportunity to come back and put pads on,” said Ganado coach Brent Bennett. “We get to play the game considering everything that’s taking place in the world right now. We aren’t taking it for granted. Guys are working through fall camp and they have responded.”
Flatonia, which comes over from Class 2A, Division II, was a regional semifinalist in 2019.
The Bulldogs will look to running back Chris Johntson to lead a young core of players. Johntson rushed for over 1,000 yards last season.
Flatonia expects to see good things from an experienced offensive line in Reese Ramirez, Braylon Burton, Josh Ramirez and Dalton Otto.
“You look at the district and it’s one of the best in the state,” said Flatonia coach Chris Freytag. “Our kids are confident and they respect all of the programs in our district. They know we have to play above and beyond and be competitive against the teams we will face. But we aren’t going to back down and we expect to compete well.”
The Wildcats are on a quest for their 10th consecutive playoff berth and third straight under head coach Ryan McIver.
Twins Joey and Jose Ramirez return to lead Weimar’s offense. Both combined for over 1,500 yards of total offense a season ago.
Other key players for Weimar will be Reed Purdy, Nunu Wilson, Jagger Fishbeck, Trey Daniels and Hunter Price.
Schulenbrug will look to first-year coach Walt Brock and the return of 18 players — including five starters on offense and eight on defense.
The Shorthorns, who dropped from Class 3A, Division II, are led by quarterback Brett Janecek, lineman Nathan Ricicar and two-way players Jeramiah Houston and Kenny King.
Schulenburg also features an experienced offensive and defensive line.
“Top to bottom, it’s is going to be a dog fight,” Bennett said. “New schemes, new everything.”