State semifinal features clash of styles
Dec. 11, 2013 at 6:11 a.m.
REFUGIO - Jim LaFond is not surprised with the criticism the Refugio defense has received over the last two weeks.
The senior defensive lineman knows it comes with the territory when you have back-to-back playoff games of giving up 72 and 34 points.
"My opinion is it's all about execution," LaFond said. "If you don't execute right, things will happen. Rogers and East Bernard really take advantage of a defense that doesn't execute. We had some execution errors that we fixed. It's all about execution and doing what we need to do."
The Bobcats (13-1) will need to execute when they face the flexbone offense run by Waskom (14-0) in the Class 2A, Division II semifinal game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Reliant Stadium in Houston.
The Wildcats have four backs with more than 1,000 yards rushing, and have scored less than 40 points in two games this season.
Justin "June Bug" Johnson has rushed 1,886 yards, cousin Kevin Johnson has rushed for 1,826 yards, Dillon Benton has rushed for 1,199 yards and quarterback Trace Carter has rushed for 1,036 yards.
"The key to this game is going to be leverage," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "It's going to be first assignment football and playing disciplined defense. The biggest overall key to defense is you have to leverage them. If you let them get outside, you're not going to catch them, they can fly."
Refugio has not seen a true option offense, but Waskom has played only one team that runs the spread.
Refugio quarterback Travis Quintanilla has passed for 4,737 yards and 60 touchdowns this season. He is 121 yards behind Garrett Gilbert's state record for passing yards in a season.
The Bobcats have seven receivers with 14 catches and 330 receiving yards or more.
Refugio has scored less than 40 points twice this season.
"We're both in the same boat," Herring said. "They're defending something they haven't seen and we're defending something we haven't seen."
Waskom advanced to the semifinals with a 24-22 win over Corrigan-Camden on Friday.
Refugio captured a 40-34 win over defending state champion East Bernard on Saturday.
Herring doesn't think the quick turnaround will bother either team. He thinks it could give the winner an edge over the Cisco (14-0)-Leonard (11-3) winner in the final.
The other semifinal game is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. at Saginaw Chisholm Trail. The state final will be played Thursday at 8 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
"If you wait until Saturday to play then for the biggest game of the year, you lose a day," Herring said. "If you play Thursday, you lose a day. Whoever wins this is sitting pretty good."
Herring isn't concerned about his team being flat after its emotional win over East Bernard, which ended Refugio's season last year.
The reward for winning the semifinal is a second trip to the championship game in three years, but the first for many of Refugio's younger players.
"With any other group, I would be real uptight about that," Herring said. "This group is so laid back and so nonchalant. They're like a bunch of puppy dogs. Our youth and our nonchalantness - the very thing that drove me crazy for nine weeks - probably saved our tail end the last two weeks.
"Our little kids didn't know that you're supposed to get uptight. When we went down by nine with 4 1/2 minutes left against Rogers, they just kept looking at me and I just kept saying, 'Let's go. It's fine.' They don't know any better. They've never been there. A big, big portion of our team is coming back next season and for many of them, this is their first rodeo."
• The Houston Texans play on a grass surface at Reliant Stadium. But the stadium installs a turf surface for high school playoff games.
Refugio will be the home team.