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Refugio returns with urgency

By MIKE FORMAN
Aug. 5, 2013 at 3:05 a.m.

The installation of artificial turf at Refugio's Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium is expected to be completed in time for the team's first scrimmage against Aransas Pass on Sept. 16. The Bobcats began practicing Monday.

BOBCATS AT A GLANCE

• Head Coach: Jason Herring

• 2012 record: 12-1, 7-0 District 16-2A, Division II

Returning starters: QB Travis Quintanilla, WR Tyler Castellano, OL J.R. Castellano, WR Dana Franklin, DE Devon LaFrance, LB Alex Coronado, FS J.B. Brown, DL Davin Tagle, DE Jim Lafond.

REFUGIO - The artificial turf being installed at Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium wasn't all that was new as Refugio gathered Monday morning for the first day of practice.

"There's more urgency this year," said senior linebacker Alex Coronado. "It's my senior year, and there's one more chance to go. There's no turning back now."

The Bobcats returned last season ranked No. 1 in most preseason polls after winning the 2011 Class 2A, Division II state championship.

But Refugio's hopes of repeating disappeared in a 54-23 quarterfinal loss to East Bernard, and the Bobcats find themselves ranked behind the Brahmas in many preseason polls.

"I think it's tough to come back off a state championship, and I think any coach who's done it will tell you that," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "I don't care if you're picked to win it again and you've got seven and seven back, there's still a sense of complacency that you can't avoid.

"You've done it. You've reached the pinnacle. No matter how much you talk about it and no matter how good the kids and the coaches are, there's just not the same fire."

The Bobcats return three starters on offense and four on defense, and Coronado knows it will be up to the seniors to ease the transition for the younger players.

"There has to be leaders everywhere," he said. "You've got to have leaders to get the group back together, or you can't have a good team. It's mostly chemistry. That's the most important part. If you don't have chemistry, you can't win it all. You have to be together to win a state title."

Herring was pleased with his team's attendance during summer conditioning drills and has already begun installing the offense and defense.

"We try to start thinking about captains, chemistry and camaraderie, and then we just start teaching," he said. "We try to get our whole offense and whole defense put in during two-a-days, and then we pick and choose as we go week to week what parts we're going to use."

Herring's staff has undergone some changes from last season.

Defensive coordinator Steve Heryford (Seagraves) and assistant Kent Hawthorne (Early) left to become head coaches.

Armando Huerta has taken over as defensive coordinator, Joe Bob Ratliff has come from New Caney and will coach the outside linebackers, and Will Cockerill has come from Medina Valley and will coach the secondary.

In addition, Cameron Cox, who coached at Columbus last season, will help Herring work with quarterback Travis Quintanilla.

"This year, we're real young, and we have a bunch of brand new offensive linemen," Herring said. "It's different. We have a different type of kids at wide receiver. We're going to adapt and tweak our offense to fit our strengths."

Coronado expects the Bobcats to closely resemble the 2011 and 2012 teams.

He hopes the final outcome is similar to the former rather than the latter.

"I really don't think you'll see any difference," he said. "We didn't win it last year. We have something to work for. We're trying to win it."

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