SHINER — The stands at Shiner High School’s Comanche Stadium were chock full of purple and gold Sunday evening, and there wasn’t even a game scheduled.
The cheerleaders still led the crowd in chants, the band still played and twirlers still spun their batons, but instead of scoring touchdowns to electrify the crowd, the state-championship-game-bound football team traded in their pads and players instead sat down on Santa Claus’ lap to entertain the crowd with a Christmas-themed Q and A session.
When Santa asked senior offensive lineman Willy Egan how he felt about the fans in attendance, Egan’s answer was full of appreciation for the community that had come out to support the team.
“We love our fans. And Wednesday, please come all ye faithful,” he said to laughter and applause from the crowd in attendance.
The Shiner Comanches are headed to the state championship game for the second straight year Wednesday night, and the community is fired up and rallying around them.
At a community pep rally Sunday, Shiner citizens young and old came out to cheer on the high school football. Past state championship-winning teams from Shiner also turned out to rally on the team.
Representatives from the 1986, 2004 and 2020 championship winning teams were on hand. David Schroeder, a player from 1986 team, said the team had a chance to make history Wednesday night.
”The 04 team made history by being the first team to go back to the championship two years in a row,” Schroeder said. “You’ve got the chance to make history by winning back-to-back.”
The community of Shiner has a lot of pride in their sports teams, said Douglas Gates, 64, of Shiner.
”It’s a big thing here in Shiner,” he said. “Football and baseball? That’s the number one and two things here.”
The community in Shiner surrounds and supports the teams, Gates said.
”They back the kids 100%,” he said. “If they’re traveling, the fans are traveling.”
“Shiner always supports,” said Stephen Patek, 51, of Shiner.
Jo Anne Winkenwerder, 70, a graduate of Shiner High School, grew excited when talking about the fans traveling to support the team.
”It makes me want to cry just talking about it,” she said.
Only two weeks removed from knee replacement surgery, Winkenwerder confirmed that she was going to be in attendance at the championship game.
Patek’s son A.J. Patek is a senior on the football team, and his two older daughters are also graduates of Shiner High School.
Meanwhile, Gates said his son played for the Comanches in the mid-2000s, and Winkenwerder said that her daughters all graduated from Shiner High School and her granddaughter is now a senior.
”It’s a family thing,” Patek said.
The football season has united and enriched the town of Shiner.
”It’s unbelievable, about the way the community comes together and this season has come around,” Gates said.
“It’s a great place to live and a great place for the kids,” Patek said.
Written by Cody Baird