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December 12, 2009

Refugio doesn't mind underdog role

Refugio rarely gets a chance to play the underdog card, and the Bobcats are taking full advantage of the opportunity.

"Everybody's picking us to lose," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "Our kids don't care. We've had a great week of practice and they're very focused. Honestly, I feel all the pressure's on Daingerfield. They have everybody back.

"We know what we're up against," Herring added. "One thing about Refugio, Refugio's never been intimidated. We're usually the ones doing the intimidating. The kids grow up that way, that's their attitude, and that's their belief."

The Bobcats (14-0) have a chance to silence their critics and upend the defending state champions when they take on the Tigers (13-1) in the Class 2A, Division II semifinals on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Bowers Stadium in Huntsville.

"A lot of people kind of doubt us right now," said senior Jourdan Ortiz. "We're just going to go out and play like we're going to play."

The thought of Refugio as an underdog is hardly reconcilable with its history, even if it is making its first appearance in the semifinals since 2000.

The Bobcats' 22-14 quarterfinal victory over Blanco was the school's 604th win, tying it with Groveton for the most wins of any Class 2A team in the state.

Refugio has won two state championships (1970, 1982) and made four appearances in the state final.

"Refugio is 14-0," said Daingerfield coach Barry Bowman. "They have not lost, and I don't care what level you play on to go undefeated is extremely difficult. They're doing things the right way."

Daingerfield has tradition of its own. The Tigers won their third state championship last season and a win would put them in the state final for the seventh time.

Daingerfield's lone loss this season was to Gilmer, which will play for the Class 3A, Division I state championship on Saturday night.

"What makes Daingerfield so special in my opinion is there's not a weakness," Herring said. "They're extremely big and physical and quick up front, and they're extremely quick and athletic everywhere else. They can run the ball if they want to and they can throw the ball if they want to.

"Usually you have one phase you have to stop. The difference with Daingerfield is if you stop the run, they're going to go to the pass and they're good enough to beat you with it."

Daingerfield's speed also caught Herring's attention when he scouted the Tigers' 27-6 quarterfinal win over Newton.

"This will be the first time this year where the team we're playing has more speed than us," Herring said. "The second thing that stands out is the way they close on the football on defense. They'll line up kind of crazy and there will be a big hole and the running back will get about three steps in the hole and bam, it just closes crazy fast."

Bowman has been impressed with the quickness of Refugio's defense and the versatility of its offense.

"You have to be sound and know where their playmakers are," Bowman said. "We tell our kids they're going to make some plays and we're going to make some plays. The most important play is the next play."

Herring learned a valuable lesson when he was coaching Sonora to the Class 2A, Division I state championship in 2000.

Sonora defeated a powerful Olney team during its playoff run.

"I told these kids guys there's two things I want you to know," Herring said. "All you've got to do is beat them once. It doesn't matter if 99 times out of 100, Daingerfield would kick us. All we've got to do is beat them once and you can't beat them if you don't play them and we get to play them."





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