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08/13/2000  Schulenburg Shorthorns seeks return to 2A's elite www.thevictoriaadvocate.com  Football


High School Football Preview: Schulenburg Shorthorns seeks return to 2A's elite

The Victoria Advocate

By: MIKE FORMAN

SCHULENBURG -- After spending two frustrating years trying to build a program at Thrall, Steve Merka was looking to coach at a school where football is important.
It hasn't taken Merka long to figure out Schulenburg is such a place.
   ``I know from talking to several people in the coaching profession and from knowing the success they had in the '90s,'' Merka said. ``I've been talking to people in the community and one thing you hear is it's important.''
   The Shorthorns were reminded just how important football is to the community last year when they suffered through a 1-9 season that included on- and off-the-field problems.
   It was Schulenburg's first losing season since 1983. In the process, the Shorthorns had a 45-game district winning streak that dated to 1990 snapped and a string of 12 consecutive playoff appearances come to an end.
   ``The older kids caught a lot of flak last year,'' Merka said. ``It's almost like there's shame when you talk about last year. There's a lot of pressure put on by the community. But I can see, especially in the younger kids, that they believe last year was a one-shot wonder. They don't expect it to happen again.''
   If Schulenburg fans were looking for a change after last season, they got one in a major way.
   Merka, who has only two assistants back from last year's staff, has totally revamped the offense and defense.
   ``They want to win here,'' Merka said. ``You've got a lot of emotions - excitement, anger, frustration. People have ideas about what did go on and what should have go on.''
   Merka is asking Schulenburg fans to show some patience, but promises to get the program headed back in the right direction.
   ``It's going to take some time because our scheme is totally different on offense and defense,'' Merka said. ``People have got to be patient, but we're going to get there.''
   The most obvious change will be on offense, where Merka plans to spread the field and throw ``70 percent of the time.''
   ``We'll go shotgun, one-back. You'll see us with quads and in no-back,'' Merka said. ``Of course, we'll take what a defense gives us. But we're going to throw a lot at a defense. We will be a defensive coordinator's nightmare.''
   Senior Cullen Klesel and junior Daniel Rosas are vying to start at quarterback and both could see action.
   Klesel or Rosas will be able to throw to a group of experienced receivers in Jeremy Glass, Matt Galipp, Ross Gallo and Jay Heinrich.
   Merka's biggest concern on offense is finding a tailback.
   But whoever starts at tailback should have room to run behind center Brandon Hobbs, guards Robert Moeller and Jason Demel and tackles Wade Dunham and A.J. Mendoza.
   ``We've got five kids as a whole who are as good as most units I see,'' Merka said of his offensive line. ``Those kids are going to help us.''
   Merka feels the same way about his entire defense, which will take more of an ``attacking-style'' approach.
   Returnees include Robert Taylor, Jose Hernandez and Dunham on the line, Moeller, who moves from end, and Gallo at linebacker and Glass and Galipp in the secondary.
   ``I'm looking at our defense and I don't see a weakness,'' Merka said. ``We have 11 kids who can play. We also have the Schulenburg mentality. These kids will hit you and that's a big plus.''
   The biggest plus for Merka could be inheriting a team intent on erasing the memory of last season.
   ``We've got to sell our product to them,'' Merka said. ``But our biggest thing will be pumping some life back into them. Going 1-9 will take the life out of anyone in America.''
   Contact Mike Forman at 574-1206, Ext. 1388, or by e-mail at mforman@vicad.com.
T.C.Baker/Advocate Staff PhotographerQuarterback Daniel Rosas and the Schulenburg Shorthorns will go to the air more this season, according to new head coach Steve Merka.
Originally published on: August 13, 2000 on page 1B.