Photo: Prentice James/TexasHSFootball

CYPRESS, Texas — Refugio Head Coach Jason Herring was overwhelmed with emotion following his team’s 63-21 victory over San Augustine in the 2A Division II State Semifinal game Thursday night at Cy-Fair FCU Stadium.

“I’m exhausted,” he said. “Everyone counted us out after losing our best class that ever came through here. Then, after the hurricane everyone counted us out. Then, we lose our best player  [Casey Henderson] to paralysis and now, here we are.”

Anybody that had doubts about the resilience of this year’s Refugio Bobcats may have been silenced Thursday night after their dominant win. This will be Refugio’s third consecutive trip to the state finals, having already taken home gold last year after a gritty 23-20 win over Crawford.

Yet, for Herring, this trip to state means more than the ones in years past.

“This team is so resilient and I am just so proud of them,” he added. “I wanna win it, I want this for them more than ever.”

Herring had plenty to be proud of — especially after his team gained 467 yards rushing on a “very good” San Augustine team in the state semis and something he said most teams could only dream of doing to their opponents this deep in the playoffs. The Bobcat defense allowed the Wolves only 209 yards of total offense — a near even split of 107 yards rushing on 17 attempts and 102 yards passing on 30 attempts with 10 passes being completed and two interceptions.

Prentice James/TexasHSFootball

The Bobcats had a sound game on both sides of the ball. The offense was rampant through all four quarters, scoring left and right on the Wolves’ defense.

And even though the passing game was silent, it didn’t matter much as the Bobcats’ secured a 28-13 lead a the half. The lead grew in the third and fourth quarters as Refugio added nail after nail in the game’s coffin after score after seemingly endless score.

Despite the mounting deficit, the Wolves staged a rally near the end of third quarter. As Refugio stormed down the field en route to what appeared to be another touchdown, defensive back K.J. Davis stripped the ball from Bobcat running back Daryon Ramirez on the 6-yard line. Davis, overwhelmed by defenders, made the last-minute decision to lateral it to Kris Wade who then weaved in-and-out would-be tacklers for a 94-yard return.

Unfortunately for the Wolves three unanswered touchdowns from Refugio sealed the deal, sending the Bobcats to state and leaving the San Augustine with a long bus ride home.

“They did incredible. This was a game fought in the trenches and it became real obvious to me that this wasn’t a game about winning ‘sexy,’” Herring said. “It took a great defensive effort for us to beat a team that is averaging 50-plus points [per game] and had speed everywhere.”

Prentice James/TexasHSFootball

Refugio will have their hands full next week when they take on Mart in the state championship game.

During their last two games versus Crawford and Stratford, the Panthers have scored a combined 80 points while only allowing 19 — scary impressive numbers for a team that only went three rounds deep last year and a quick one-and-done the year prior. Still, with it being a short week, Herring said his team has little wiggle room for mistakes and even less time to practice.

“We’re going to reevaluate how we go about this [practice schedule],” he said. “There’s no way we can go to state with one stinking practice. Last year we had one practice, this year we may only have two so we’ll see.”

The(13-1) Bobcats will take on the Mart High School (14-1) next Wednesday for the UIL 2A Division II State Championship at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

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