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Playoff veteran Refugio faces Nixon-Smiley

By MIKE FORMAN
Nov. 14, 2013 at 5:14 a.m.


Class 2A, Division II Bi-District

• Refugio Bobcats vs. Nixon-Smiley Mustangs

• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Stadium

• Tickets: $5

The contrast couldn't be more apparent.

Refugio will make its 22nd consecutive playoff appearance when it travels to Memorial Stadium in Victoria for Friday's 7:30 p.m. Class 2A, Division II bi-district game against Nixon-Smiley.

The Mustangs will be making their first trip to the postseason since 2005.

The Bobcats (9-1), who have been ranked in the state poll all season, cruised to the District 16-2A championship.

"It's a relief," said senior J.B. Brown. "You finally get to play somebody that is really good. Now, it's here; you're ready to perform."

Nixon-Smiley (6-4) bounced back from a 1-9 season and finished fourth in District 15-2A.

"It's been a process all along," said Nixon-Smiley coach Carlton McKinney. "We're not blessed with great talent so the only way to accomplish that is with an abundance of work. The kids have continued to progress. They've learned a valuable lesson, and it's paid off for them."

The reward is questionable. Refugio has motivation of its own after losing in the quarterfinals to East Bernard last season after winning the state championship in 2011.

"Our kids don't look at it like we've been doing this for 10 weeks," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "It's like week zero around here. Our kids were more focused and more excited than they've ever been."

The Bobcats aren't taking anything for granted and have worked hard to prepare the Mustangs, who use multiple offensive sets.

"It's for sure the best team we've seen in a while," Herring said. "They've got two special wide receivers who can run. We're excited about it because it's probably the best team we've played since Lago Vista. That's what makes the playoffs exciting - you match up with good people."

Nixon-Smiley understands the challenge it will face.

"If you think you can go out and control them, you're not very smart," McKinney said. "We know our best defense against them will be to limit their offensive touches. We want to play ball control and keep them in front of us. We want to make them drive the field and hopefully, they'll make a few mistakes. We want to play at our tempo and not their tempo."

Refugio has shown once it gets in a rhythm, it becomes very difficult to defend.

"We're very focused," Brown said. "We're more focused than we were in the regular season. We understand what's at stake. We have a lot of people who can flat out play, and it ought to be fun to see what we can do."

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