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Refugio running back on top of his game

By MIKE FORMAN
Dec. 11, 2013 at 6:11 a.m.
Updated Dec. 12, 2013 at 6:12 a.m.

Refugio running back Isaiah Perez stiff arms a Danbury defender during the Bobcats' 42-13 win last month. The sophomore may not put up gaudy rushing stats, but he's willing to do anything to help him team win.

Isaiah Perez Statistics

• 2012 (FRESHMAN): 24-214 yards, 3 TDs rushing; 2-24 yards receiving; 2-3 yards kickoff returns; 241 all-purpose yards; 18 points.

• 2013 (SOPHOMORE): 122-997 yards, 19 TDs rushing; 22-330 yards, 2 TDs receiving; 6-186 yards, 1 TD kickoff returns; 1,513 all-purpose yards; 140 points.

• TOTALS: 146-1,211 yards, 22 TDs rushing; 24-354 yards, 2 TDs receiving; 8-189 yards, 1 TD kickoff returns; 7,754 all-purpose yards 158 points.

REFUGIO - The call Refugio coach Jason Herring sent in from the sideline was a hitch pattern.

The play the Bobcats ran in their quarterfinal playoff game against defending state champion East Bernard was a hitch-and-go.

"They were biting on the hitch real hard," said Refugio running back Isaiah Perez. "I told (quarterback) Travis (Quintanilla) before and when coach Herring called that play, I switched it. I was going to run the hitch-and-go. I had him but he grabbed me."

Perez drew a 10-yard penalty on the East Bernard defender that gave Refugio a first down. He also received praise from Herring for his ability to recognize what was happening on the field.

"What's special about Isaiah is he's a brilliant kid," Herring said. "Isaiah takes four honors classes and he's a straight-A student. He's real, real smart. He reminds me a lot of Draigon (Silvas) in that football meant so much to Draigon he just picked things up. Isaiah you have to tell him one time and he's got it. He's a real easy kid to coach."

Perez, a sophomore, became Refugio's starting running back this season after backing up Silvas and playing linebacker last season.

Herring decided to bring Perez to the varsity as a freshman in part to let him learn from Silvas, who redshirted this season at Wayland Baptist.

"Physically we knew he had the tools," Herring said. "He was still a 15-year-old freshman. Draigon was one of the rarest kids I ever coached. When I coached Draigon as a freshman, it was like talking to a senior. He was so far above the game football knowledge wise."

Perez credits much of his success this season to what he learned from Silvas.

"Draigon taught me that it was different from junior high," Perez said. "You can't run from sideline to sideline. You have to run north and south and up and down the field."

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Perez has the skills necessary to excel in Refugio's spread offense, including taking snaps in the goal-line package.

Perez has not only rushed 122 times for 997 yards and 19 touchdowns, he's also caught 22 passes for 330 yards and two touchdowns, returned six kickoffs for 186 yards and one touchdown, and scored a team-leading 140 points.

"Our running backs fit the mold of Darren Sproles (of the New Orleans Saints) and people like that," Herring said. "They're real valuable out of the backfield, they're huge in protection and when we run, obviously they'll be the ones carrying the ball."

Perez doesn't mind that he has averaged less than nine carries per game and has yet to break the 1,000-yard mark since the Bobcats (13-1) are still playing.

"It's just something I accept," Perez said. "I'm not really worried about it as long as we're winning and moving on. As long as I'm helping the team either running, catching or blocking, I'm helping somehow and we're getting the win so it doesn't really matter to me."

Herring appreciates Perez's attitude and knows he will soon have his time in the spotlight.

"Travis is such a good quarterback and we have a bunch of receivers so we wanted to take advantage of that this season," Herring said. "We'll have a new quarterback and our offensive line back and there's no question his production and his carries will double next year."

Perez is only concerned about this season and Thursday night's Class 2A, Division II semifinal game against Waskom (14-0) at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Perez helped the Bobcats reach the semifinal by scoring the decisive touchdown and adding a two-point conversion run in their 40-34 win over East Bernard.

But he's far from satisfied.

"I worked a lot on everything during the summer," Perez said. "I've gotten way stronger and a little faster. I don't want anybody to settle down because we beat the team we've been waiting to beat."

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