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ON SPORTS: Drop in classification a plus for Refugio (VIDEO)

Oct. 30, 2013 at 5:30 a.m.


REFUGIO - Refugio athletic director and head football coach Jason Herring left the Region III co-educational center in Victoria after the UIL's realignment and reclassification in February of 2012 with the realization the Bobcats missed being a Class 1A school by four students.

Refugio turned in an average daily attendance of 203, but had 190 students when school began in September.

The Bobcats have been a Class 2A school for the last two years, and are likely to remain in Class 2A when the UIL's next realignment and reclassification is released in February of 2014.

The difference being Class 2A for the upcoming two years would have been Class 1A for the current two years because the UIL will add a Class 6A and six-man teams will now be labeled Class 1A.

Refugio had an average daily attendance of 187 on last Friday's snapshot date.

The number is below the 2012 cutoff of 199, which is likely to go up since the UIL has raised the number for six-man schools from 99 to 104.

"I think anytime you can end up on the top instead of the bottom it's got to be advantageous," Herring said. "Where I think it's really going to help us is our other sports where there's not a big school, small school."

Refugio has about 80 boys in athletics and has made the playoffs in football and baseball. The 40 girls in athletics made the playoffs in softball but have had a more difficult time in volleyball and basketball.

"It evens the numbers up," said girls basketball coach David Hemphill. "It makes it a whole lot more competitive. Instead of competing with ones that have 80 and 77 and we have 30 and 35, so it evens things up. Dropping down will make it better from the competitive side."

Refugio has had no trouble competing in Class 2A in football. The Bobcats won the Division II state championship in 2011 and lost in the quarterfinals to eventual state champion East Bernard last season. Refugio has a 7-1 record and is ranked No. 9 in the state this season.

Herring doesn't foresee a drop in classification lessening the competition for the Bobcats, especially if they move into a district to the north.

"I really don't look at it like there's that much difference," he said. "The real good 1As like Shiner, Ganado, Mart and Canadian and all those guys were all the competitors we used to play in 2A just a few years back. The way I look at it, we're just a few years behind the others."

Refugio advanced to the regional quarterfinals in baseball last season. But coach Armando Huetra is well aware that Weimar, Shiner and Flatonia have won state titles.

"The only thing different will be the new rivalries and the new opponents," he said. "It's always been our goal to be a threat in our region because we know our region has been very successful at the state tournament."

Huerta is looking forward to being on a more equal footing from a numbers standpoint.

"Where the numbers play a role comes down to the depth of our pitching staffs," he said. "We've been fortunate to have two sometimes three. To win it all, you have to have not just two or three good ones but dominant ones."

The numbers issue should also come into play in UIL-sponsored competitions in band, academics and one-act plays.

"That's what we need to focus on," said Jack Gaskins, superintendent of the Refugio school district. "Our football program is extremely strong and can hold its own against the 3As. All the other programs this makes it - if you'll excuse the pun - a much better playing field."

Refugio dropped from Class 3A to 2A in 1986, and Gaskins expects the community to again accept the likely drop in classification.

"I don't believe there will be any negative community perception," he said. "I believe the community understands that in order to be more competitive it's better to go up against a high school with an enrollment more similar to yours rather than facing a high school with a much larger pool."

The athletes insist their expectations won't change wherever Refugio lands.

"Our goal is the state championship," said junior J.R. Castellano. "If we're 1A, 2A all the way to 5A, it doesn't matter. That will always be our goal."

Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or mforman@vicad.com, or comment on this column at advosports.com

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