The last time Shiner played Schulenburg and Refugio met up with Ganado, the outcomes were not close.
But what happened in the past is not always an indication of what will take place in the future.
“Both teams are more familiar,” said Ganado coach Brent Bennett. “This will be the third time in a calendar year we’ve played. Obviously, both teams are going to be more familiar with what each team’s trying to do. We’re trying to tell our kids and I’m sure what Coach (Jason) Herring is telling his kids is ‘Don’t worry about last time, we’ve got to win this time.’”
Refugio beat Ganado 54-2 in last year’s Class 2A, Division I regional semifinals, and cruised to a 57-7 win in a non-district game earlier this season.
“Everybody that’s left can play,” Herring said. “Obviously, some are better than others on paper. There’s no patsies left. That’s lesson No. 1. If you look ahead, you’ll get your butts beat.”
Shiner defeated Schulenburg 48-21 in District 13 play last season, and captured a 46-2 win in this year’s district matchup.
“It’s a little different as far as preparation goes,” said Shiner coach Daniel Boedeker. “We know what they’ve done before and what they’ve been doing up to this point. But when you play twice, you know there’s going to be wrinkles there so you have to be ready for some of the unexpected and what are some of the things that hurt us the first time.”
The past won’t matter in Friday’s regional semifinals when Ganado (7-5) and Refugio (12-0) play at 6:30 p.m. at Port Lavaca’s Sandcrab Stadium, and Schulenburg (6-6) and Shiner (12-0) square off at 7 p.m. at Hallettsville’s Brahma Memorial Stadium.
“I think it will be a better game,” said Refugio’s Ty LaFrance. ”We know what they run a lot and they know what we run a lot. I think both teams will do some new stuff, but it should be a better game than last time.”
“Having played football for a long time, it’s always hard to beat a team a second time,” agreed Shiner’s Doug Brooks. “You played them the first time and they know what you’re going to do. You’ve got to come out and stop them.”
Schulenburg is making its first appearance in the area round since 2010 and was without some key players when the teams met earlier this month.
“The good thing is we’re finally getting healthy,” said Schulenburg coach Walt Brock. “This is as healthy as we’ve been since the first scrimmage. We just need to play our game, try not to get too overwhelmed and do the best we can.”
Defending state-champion Shiner is a perennial contender with extensive playoff experience.
“Experience goes a long way sometimes,” Boedeker said. “But when a team has been playing really well that makes it difficult too. They’re playing good football right now and we have to be ready.”
With school out for the Thanksgiving holiday, all four teams have been on different practice schedules.
“That was one of the first things we talked about coming into this week was the routine was going to be different,” Boedeker said. “We have to try to keep it the same as much as possible with sleep habits, eating habits, work habits and practices at a different time that allows them to get a little more time to use wisely to rest up and play football.”
But the chance to play football in the third round is well worth the time the players spend at practice.
“We can’t ever take anything for granted,” Brooks said. “This is a special week. Not a lot of people get to play Thanksgiving week. So when we get the opportunity, we take it and go the whole nine yards.”
The winners will get the chance to play against each other in next week’s regional final.
“We told our kids the other day that any team that’s won a state championship has to run a gauntlet, and the gauntlet starts now,” Herring said. “The gauntlet starts here. There are 16 teams left. The gauntlet starts Friday because anyone left can play.”