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Talk about a thrashing: Refugio coach talks about lopsided wins

Oct. 10, 2011 at 5:10 a.m.
Updated Oct. 11, 2011 at 5:11 a.m.

Refugio head coach Jason Herring shouts out instructions during the Bobcats game against Riviera on Sept. 30. Refugio set a team record for points in that game, beating Riviera 82-6. They would set a new record the following week, beating Freer 91-6 on Friday. Several have ridiculed the fifth-year coach and his team for running up the score on opponents, but Herring maintains his starters need to get into games for more than a half, a rarity for the Bobcats in previous seasons because of a weak district schedule that takes up most of the regular season.

MIKE FORMAN :: HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

REFUGIO - Refugio has a 6-0 record and is ranked No. 1 in the state Class 2A poll.

But the Bobcats have come under fire for their recent 82-6 win over Riviera and 91-6 thrashing of Freer.

Jason Herring, who is in his fifth season as Refugio's head coach, discusses his coaching philosophy and address his critics.

What do you say to people who claim Refugio is running up the score?

We don't go into the game and say we're going to rewrite the record book. I didn't even know what the point record was. We don't go in and say we're going to score 80 tonight. On the contrary, when it gets to 61, I don't say, 'It's 61 put on the breaks.' We're going to play and we're going to do what we do for three quarters because I've only done it for two, and it's not working and I don't think it's fair.

I don't like the situation we're in. I wish we were in a much tougher district. I can't pick who they put us with. We have to play who we have to play. How is it fair to Draigon (Silvas) and Shiloh (Whetsel) and all of our kids who work out everyday just as hard as everybody else's kids and then they get to play two quarters. Probably what would be fair would be to play for four quarters, but then it would be 100 and I'd really be Satan."

What about people who say you shouldn't be passing with a big lead in the second half?

Everybody wants to look at the number and they want to get personal feelings and emotions involved. It's absolutely not like that. We never say we're going to score 100 tonight or we're going to try and break this record. What we do say is what do we need to work on to be a playoff-caliber team and have our kids the most prepared we can be. I don't ever look and say it's 70, I better not throw a pass. I just call the game in the flow because here's the deal, I got a pup at quarterback. He's a sophomore. I've got three offensive linemen who have never played varsity football in their lives. I've got eight defensive starters all in new positions because we're playing a reading 4-2 instead of an attacking 3-4. I got a sophomore, brand new kicker. No one's going to understand but when is it our time to work on what we've got to work on.

One of those teams threw the ball 47 times. You throw the ball you better complete them. It's going to be first down, second down, third down and 30 seconds is off the clock. They gave us 14 possessions. You give this team 14 possessions even with our fifth-string running back, we're going to score 70 to 80. We're just that blessed. It ain't me, it ain't anything we're doing as coaches, we just have a great run of athletes and we have great team speed. You know why that team threw it 50 times? Because they're working on what they need to get them to the playoffs. They're wanting to work on what they do. When is it our time to work on what we do? Why is it because we're talented, I'm supposed to put in a backup quarterback and run dive up the middle and not work on what we do?

I don't understand that. I still think it was the right thing to do to pull them out at half. I am convinced it has kept us from being as good as we have to be. I don't know if it's cost us four championships, but I'm convinced that we're a better football team right now because our kids have played three quarters than we were any of the other years I was here.

Some people say you should be able to condition in practice?

I don't care how you slice it any coach will tell you the only way to get in game shape is to play games. You can run five 100-yard dashes if you want to and it's not the same as being able to play four quarters, especially in the trenches. Why is it right that Draigon only get four touches a game. Even playing three quarters, they only get seven or eight. This is absolutely not why I'm doing it.

Do you know Draigon and Shiloh and them have never made all-state because they can't get the stats when they're for sure two of the best backs in the state. The running back from Ganado (Josh) Labay carried 45 times the other night. That's awesome. When Ganado needs him to carry that many times in the playoffs, he can do it. Draigon averaged six carries a game because we pulled him out and against Daingerfield we ran him 37 times. It wasn't fair to that kid. He was beat up and wore out. He played like a soldier that night. How is that fair to our kids to not be ready to play.

What did you learn from those playoff losses?

I've spent hours, every second of every day since we lost to Rice 7-6 four years ago, and then to Blanco, and then to Daingerfield, and then to Lexington. I learn from every game and I evaluate the program because I'm not satisfied with going 13-1. That's not what we came here to do. I came here to win a championship for the community and the kids.

The one glaring similarity in all four of those years is our kids have only played two quarters of football. Everybody gets 10 games to get ready for the playoffs. That's 40 quarters. Everybody else gets 40 quarters give or take a little bit to get their kids ready and we're trying to get ours ready in 20.

When we looked at every little thing about our program that was the thing that stood out in my mind. I decided way back in the summer and I told my coaches we're going to play three quarters. It's going to be miserable and people are going to criticize us. But how can we cheat our kids and worry about other kids and worry about the score and do our kids wrong.

You've said you've been on the other end of a blowout. Could you give an example?

In 1996 I was the head coach at Wall and we played the No. 1 team in the state, the Iraan Braves. They won the championship that year. A guy named Larry Hanna, awesome coach and respectful man had us down 70-0 halfway through the third.

Here's what he started doing. Take the ball knee, knee, knee, punt. I'll never forget my kids and I were so humiliated after the game that I shook his hand and told him, 'Coach I appreciate it but please next time play four quarters. You embarrassed me more by doing that than if you had just scored. We're trying to get better.' I'll never forget my kids we're fighting mad because they were humiliated that another team took a knee probably the last seven series and punted it back to us.

What has been the reaction of the Refugio administration and board of trustees?

I went to my superintendent this summer. I said, 'This is what I feel and I want to know your opinion.' He told me, 'Coach you have to do it,' and he's 1,000-percent supportive. I said, 'Boss are you sure you're doing the right thing because it hurts me? I'm miserable, I'm not having any fun. I feel sorry for those other kids. We're getting ripped all over the Internet.' You know what he said, 'Keep doing what you're doing. You're doing what's best for these kids. We've cheated our own kids and anybody that knows a lick about you knows that it's not personal and it's not to hurt anybody.'

How have you dealt with the criticism?

The telltale fact to me and the reason I can go to sleep is there's three people I've got to please. I've got to please God first, I've got to please these kids and myself and look in the mirror. There's no question in my mind we're not doing it maliciously. If we were doing it maliciously it would be all four quarters all Draigon, Shiloh and Lynx (Hawthorne).

Every single time they've asked me to run the clock I've obliged. If they asked me at halftime, I said 'Yes sir, we can. Third quarter, yes sir, we can.' I've never told them no. If it was about blood like these people are saying than why wouldn't we just go ahead and score 100 and set the national record. Why wouldn't we leave our starters in the whole game, blow up their stats for all-state, go for two every time and never agree to run the clock.

What it is about is us playing for three quarters and hope that's enough when we get to the playoffs.

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 www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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