SHINER -- St. Paul Cardinals coach Gilbert Price knew the experience factor in both the offensive and defensive lines would be lacking.
Running back - defensive back Jeremy Petru is one of 12 returning starters for the St. Paul Cardinals. T.C. Baker, Advocate Staff Photographer
But when two of his key players transferred across town to play for the Shiner Comanches, things soured even more for the second-year head coach.
Senior Will Pekar (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) and junior Kevin Patek decided to join the Comanches this season, leaving Price even more shorthanded in the trenches.
"We knew we were going to be young and inexperienced to begin with in the line," Price said. "And those two losses didn't help us at all."
So for Price, it will be back to the basics and trying to keep things simple for his squad for a second straight season.
ST. PAUL CARDINALS
AT A GLANCE
HEAD COACH: Gilbert Price, second season (6-6), all at St. Paul.
2004 RECORD: 6-6, 2-2 in TAPPS Division IV, District 4.
RETURNING LETTERMAN: 10
RETURNING STARTERS: 12 (2 offensive, 6 defensive).
LAST PLAYOFF APPEARANCE: 2004 -- lost to Dallas Tyler Street 40-0 in TAPPS Division IV regional playoffs.
STRENGTHS: Skill positions, secondary.
WEAKNESS: Lack of experience and depth.
"With a year under their belts, the kids know what I want and what I expect," Price said. "We have 25 out and we're going to try to use them as best we can to be as successful as we can."
Price has plenty of experience back in the backfield with all three starters returning, including quarterback Trevor Hybner and running backs Derek Kovalcik and Jeremy Petru. All are seniors.
"We're going to try and establish some sort of running game," Price said. "We'll have to keep it simple, move around in different formations, and give our opponents a lot of different looks."
Price will have three returnees in the line with seniors Lee Kusak and Drew Marcak and junior Chad Kloesel.
2003 ST. PAUL CARDINAL FOOTBALLDate Time Team Last Year Aug 26 7:30 at Skidmore-Tynan DNP Sep 2 7:30 at Louise W 19-6 Sep 9 7:30 Flatonia L 8-24 Sep 16 7:30 Bryan St. Joe W 38-6 Sep 23 7:30 at Lutheran North W 14-7 Sep 30 7:30 St. Joe L 6-22 Oct 7 7:30 at La Marque Abundant Life * W 18-0 Oct 14 7:30 OPEN Oct 22 7:30 Sacred Heart * L 0-26 Oct 28 7:30 NE Kingwood Christian * DNP Nov 4 7:30 at Katy Faith West * L 7-37 * TAPPS Division IV, District 4 game
All other positions are wide open on offense.
With the loss of his two defensive tackles, Pekar and Patek, Price will have to count heavily on his six other returnees.
"We lost a lot of experience at our tackle spots and that's where our defense starts," Price said.
"We're going to try and be more aggressive. We can't just sit back and wait for the action to come to us. We have to go after people a little more than we did last year.
The Cardinals, who advanced to the TAPPS Division IV playoffs last year with a 7-4 record, will have most of their defensive strength in the secondary.
"With a year under their belts, the kids know what I want and what I expect."
Gilbert Price, St. Paul head coach
Hybner returns at one cornerback, Petru is back at free safety and junior Jordan Schaefer is back at strong safety.
Kusak and Kloesel return at the ends, while Kovalick also returns in the line.
"Like any team with small numbers, we have to avoid injuries," Price stressed.
Paul Ebner is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate.
Contact him at 361-580-6508, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.