REFUGIO, TX — The No. 4 Refugio Bobcats (14-1) are back in the UIL 2A-DI state championship, packing their bags for AT&T Stadium in Arlington. This time the Bobcats will face the undefeated No. 2 Hawley Bearcats (15-0).
"I see they have a pretty good running attack and I see they have pretty good receivers on the outside," Isaiah Avery, Refugio junior tight end and defensive back, said. "I mean in the back half we are going to have to be on point and we're going to need the linebackers to come up big in this game."
The Bobcats have prepared for this moment since week one when they lost to Hitchcock 49-12, defeated Shiner twice and then upset No. 1 Timpson 24-21 in the state semifinal.
"To hold Shiner to 20 and hold Timpson and Bussey to 20 is unheard of," Jason Herring, Refugio football head coach, said. "You know we changed defensive philosophies. We went and learned Canadian's 3-3 defense and we put our 11 fastest kids on defense. We're tiny, we're not very big, we're undersized, but we can fly."
It's going to take veteran leadership from Refugio's eight seniors along with their linebackers to slow down Hawley's balanced offense led by 6-foot-1 225 pound running back Austin Cumpton.
"Stay calm when the pressures on when you're down by what 2 points against Timpson," Kaleb Brown, Refugio junior running back and linebacker, said. "Stay calm and keep your team's head up and all that."
On offense Refugio's passing game speed plays a major factor, but it starts with establishing the run.
“I got a staple of running backs what I would call the very best staple of 2A running backs in the state no doubt," Herring said. "What makes them go is our offensive line. This is the best offensive line we’ve had since ’19.”
The Bobcats have four guys in the backfield, Eziyah Bland, Jordan King, Kaleb Brown and Zander Wills.
“We just bring a lot of versatility. We got the big guys, the bruisers, the speed guys like Eziyah," Kaleb Brown, Refugio junior running back and linebacker, said. "We just have a lot of things for a defense to prepare for.”
Refugio has a young, deep roster, allowing for all the running backs to get touches. Their success gives sophomore quarterback Kelan Brown time in the pocket.
“This year we’re very healthy with a lot of depth, so you know Kelan he’s come a long way," Eziyah Bland, Refugio senior running back and defensive back, said. "That’s my cousin, so I trust him in a lot of ways so I’ll live with any decision he makes.”
Brown's confidence stems from his offensive line, a group of guys that looked a little raw at the beginning of the season have now blossomed to a state caliber group.
“They give me all of the confidence in the world," Kelan Brown, Refugio sophomore quarterback, said. "You know, I’ve got a great o-line that can protect me and I got wide receivers that I can depend on to throw the ball to.”
No. 4 Refugio and No. 2 Hawley kickoff the UIL 2A-DI State Championship in Arlington at AT&T Stadium on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. For ticket information click here.
Viewers can watch the games live on the Bally Sports Southwest and Bally Sports Southwest Extra channels with their paid-TV provider. Some games will air on the main channel, and some will be on Extra. Check channel listings here: GetMyHomeTeams.com