Even in relative obscurity, Refugio's offensive line has been critical to team's success
By bY CLAY WHITTINGTON - CWHITTINGTON@VICAD.COM
Dec. 13, 2011 at 6:13 a.m.
Updated Dec. 14, 2011 at 6:14 a.m.
REFUGIO - It is hard to go unnoticed on a team making national news.
But, for the most part, they are.
They never scored a touchdown for what could be the most prolific team in high school history, once Friday's Class 2A, Division II championship game against Cisco concludes, but they are responsible for all of the Bobcats' scores this season nonetheless.
While teammates at "skill" positions are being recognized for setting a new state scoring record, Refugio's offensive linemen are primarily sitting in the shadows.
They might not get all the recognition, but they know they are appreciated.
They are reminded every week by Class 2A's offensive player of the year.
"Every Friday, (quarterback Travis Quintanilla) buys us breakfast tacos," senior guard Ruben Ortiz said.
Although the weekly meal is all the thanks the five players responsible for creating holes and providing time need, their head coach does not mince words when it comes to their importance to Refugio's success this season.
"Our offensive line is our heart and soul," Jason Herring said. "Those guys know that (the coaches and players) know that is where our bread is buttered.
"They don't get all the accolades and all that, but there is no question they know where their spot on this team is, and it is right there at the top."
Coincidentally, coming into the season, the group also created the biggest question mark for Herring.
With three starting linemen graduating from the 2010 team, the Bobcats were extremely inexperienced at the positions.
Junior right tackle John Wesley Shipp and center Matt Galvan were the only returning players. The duo were coupled with newcomers Logan Myers, Jake Henderson and Ortiz.
But it did not take long for the group to answer all of Herring's questions.
"I'm shocked that they are as good as they are this fast," the coach said.
Cisco head coach Brent West has also taken notice.
"They're big, but they're mobile for big kids," West said. "There's not one guy that you can say 'There's (their) weak spot.'"
In addition to crediting the players, Herring points to offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Drew Cox for the unit's success.
"He is the best there is, no question," Herring said. "He is the reason we are where we are, and I'm not ashamed to say that."
Cox, who came to Refugio with Herring after the duo won a state championship at Sonora, has created a bond with the players that extends beyond the field, allowing for complete trust.
"It is almost a father-son relationship," Texas Associated Press Sports Editors' Class 2A All-State First Team member Shipp said. "He will do anything for (us), and I'd do anything for him. I mean it, I'd do anything I could for him."
Even change positions.
Shipp played quarterback prior to being moved to offensive line at the beginning of his sophomore season, trading the glitz of the most high profile position on the field for doing dirty work.
And he insists he never wants to go back.
"It was hard making the transition, but I'm glad I did," Shipp said. "I'm where I want to be.
"You get to have a war with the guy across from you on every play, and I take it personal."
According to Cox, it is not size, strength or speed that makes linemen succesful, but, rather, it is that type of determinated, selfless mentality.
"A lineman is all heart," Cox said. "Ninety percent of being a lineman is heart and just wanting to do the job."
Considering the team is averaging approximately 61 points per game, there is a chance the Bobcats could break the national scoring record of 903 points set by North Carolina's Albemarle in 2001. Currently, Refugio has scored 855 points.
While the public might not credit Refugio's offensive line for the potential record, Shipp guarantees his teammates will recognize the line's efforts just like they have all season.
"The backs know what we are there for, and they thank us after every touchdown they make," he said.
And that is all the gratitude the offensive line expects.
Well, that and breakfast tacos.