MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Refugio escapes Cisco for first state title in 29 years
ARLINGTON - Donald Trevino received a gift from his Refugio teammates and they made it possible for him to return the gesture.
Trevino beamed after unwrapping a framed state championship poster as the Bobcats celebrated their 36-35 Class 2A, Division II state final win over Cisco and perfect 15-0 season with their legion of fans among the crowd of 10,456 on Friday at Cowboys Stadium.
But Trevino's heart soared as he thought about the smile a state championship would have brought to his mother's face.
"It felt real good," said Trevino, who had seven tackles to wrap up his senior season. "I'm actually real proud of our team for being able to keep my promise because I don't know how I'd be able to live my life without keeping my promise to my mom."
Celia Nanez passed away last year after a battle with stomach cancer, but Trevino promised his mother Refugio would win a state title and the Bobcats fed off her strength and courage en route to the school's third state championship and its first since 1982.
"That was a good team out there," Trevino said. "We just stayed together and we did what we needed to do to come out with that win."
The win wasn't secure until linebacker Jake Heryford stopped Cisco running back Hayden Lewis a yard short of a first down on a fourth-and-3 attempt from the Refugio 43 with 58 seconds left.
"We knew we had to get stops at some point or we weren't going to win the game," said Heryford, who had a game-high 11 tackles. "After they scored those two touchdowns, I knew the defense was going to have to get a stop at some point. Obviously coach (Jason) Herring trusted us enough to take the safety and put it in our hands to win a championship."
Herring had punter Lynx Hawthorne run out of the back of the end zone after the Loboes cut a 36-19 lead to three points in the fourth quarter, and had the Bobcats backed up to their 10-yard line.
"I knew that we had struggled slowing them all night," Herring said. "We had a three-point lead, so we could have punted from the end zone and they would get the ball on the 35 or 40. Or, we could take the safety and give them two points and, hopefully, kick it where they had to drive 60 or 70 yards and it worked out great."
Refugio quarterback Travis Quintanilla passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns and was selected as the game's offensive MVP. But the Bobcats were able to rush for only 42 net yards and came up 13 points short of breaking the national record for points scored in a season. Refugio failed to score twice in the first half after reaching the Cisco 5-yard line.
"There's no question when you put in film of Cisco, there's two things you notice right off the bat," Herring said. "Their kids are very disciplined and very well coached and great at stopping the run. I mean they will hammer you in stopping the run."
Cisco pounded Refugio with its running game. Lewis rushed for 180 yards and two touchdowns, and Mason Reed added 100 yards and one touchdown. Reed also returned a kickoff 86 yards to spur the Loboes' late rally.
"Obviously, we knew they had quite an offense," said Cisco coach Brent West. "There's a reason they broke the scoring record this year in Texas. They have weapons everywhere, so we really felt going in - even behind by a few touchdowns, we stuck to this in the second half - that we had to grind it out. Don't give their offense any opportunities, or as few opportunities as we possibly could."
Refugio trailed three times, but took the lead for good on a 5-yard touchdown run by Draigon Silvas, who added the two-point conversion run with 5:47 left in the third quarter.
The Bobcats extended the lead on Quintinilla's 48-yard touchdown pass to Cory Brown. The score came after Quintanilla and Brown had kept the drive alive with a 9-yard completion on fourth-and-4 from the Refugio 45. Brown had to leave the game for a play after getting hit from behind.
"I didn't really know I was going to get hit," said Brown, who had six catches for 110 yards and was named the game's defensive MVP after recording 10 tackles and breaking up a potential touchdown pass. "That was a huge catch right there because it was fourth down and we really needed it to keep the drive going."
Refugio scored for the final time this season on a 5-yard run by Shiloh Whetsel with 8:34 remaining in the fourth quarter. The touchdown followed a fumble recovery by linebacker Jack Gumm at the Cisco 19.
"One thing about this group of kids is I've never doubted them," Herring said. "In a big game like this, two times we got inside the 5-yard line in the first half and didn't come away with points. We do that this whole game's different.
"That's a credit to Cisco," he added. "That's what great teams do. We let them hang around and that's what good teams do."
Refugio proved it was a great team by becoming a state champion. The result is a happy bus ride home, and a fond farewell to a special season.
"It's kind of weird from going from last year, watching them play, to being a part of the team. And to be honest, I made a lot of friends here. These guys are my brothers," Hawthorne said. "Coach Herring, I'll miss him, I'll miss high school. There's no better way to end your high school career than with a state championship."
Refugio 36, Cisco 35
C-Hayden Lewis 22 yard run (Zack Wilks kick), 6:17
R-Lynx Hawthorne 1 yard pass from Travis Quintanilla (Aldofo Cordero kick), 4:27
C-Mason Reed 4 yard run (run failed), 11:53
R-Malcolm Thompson 11 yard pass from Quintanilla (Cordero kick), 11:20
C-Isaac Hamilton 14 pass from Colten Gayle (kick failed), 7:39
R-Draigon Silvas 5 yard run (Silvas run), 5:47
R-Cory Brown 48 yard pass from Quintanilla (Cordero kick), 11:51
R-Shiloh Whetsel 8 yard run (Cordero kick), 8:34
C-Reed 86 yard kickoff return (Wilks kick), 8:20
C-Lewis 2 yard run (Wilks kick), 4:10
C-Safety. Hawthorne ran out back of end zone, 2:28
RUSHING-- Refugio, S. Whetsel 8-43, T. Quintanilla 5-(-36), M. Franklin 2-0, L. Hawthorne 2-(-11), D. Silvas 14-47, C. Brown 1-0. Cisco, H. Lewis 21-180, M. Reed 14-100, C. Gayle 11-27, I. Hamilton 1-17.
PASSING-- Refugio, T. Quintanilla 25-20-372-0. Cisco, C. Gayle 12-6-100-0.
RECEIVING-- Refugio, C. Brown 6-110, S. Whetsel 6-104, L. Hawthorne 4-119, D. Silvas 2-28, M. Thompson 1-11, C. Whetsel 1-0. Cisco, I. Hamilton 2-55, H. Starr 2-34, C. Kent 2-11.