REFUGIO, TX — It’s a high school football tradition to have an epic entrance. What used to be a paper poster is now a monster breathing smoke.
“This thing is 21-feet tall, 21-feet long, and it’s just very intimidating for the other team,” Gary Wright, Refugio County Chief Deputy, said.
The Tunnel Crew, led by Refugio County Chief Deputy Gary Wright, hauls the big Bobcat to every game including the State Championship.
“You see that big thing just come up all of a sudden, and as a football player, ex-football player, I know it brings chills to your back man to your spine," Jose Tamayo, Refugio County Sheriff Deputy, said. "It makes those hairs stand up.”
Hugo Rosas is a die-hard Bobcat fan and alum, playing on the state runner-up team in 1987 and semifinals in 1988. His son won the title in 2011, and the tradition continues with his three other children. That’s why carrying the load is worth it.
“Well it’s actually very heavy, so once we get it unfolded we each have a designated job,” Hugo Rosas, 1989 Refugio grad and 1987 state runner-up, said.
Bobcats train and dream of the day when they’re able to burst out of the tunnel and flex for high school football game day.
“It’s pretty cool," Ernest “The Flash Campbell, Refugio junior receiver and defensive back, said. "It means a lot you know just playing with my brothers and running out with my brothers.”
“Well as a little kid we had a little tunnel or whatever, but running out of the tunnel means a lot," Eziyah Bland, Refugio senior running back and defensive back, said. "You know it’s probably going to be my last time, so it just gives me jitters thinking about it.”
Wright joined the Tunnel Crew in 2011. The 1978 district champion is proud to continue the tradition.
“These guys here, I can remember some years ago when I was with the other tunnel them running through the tunnel with the bigger boys," said Wright. "Yeah, and now they’re the big boys themselves and now we have the little boys running with them”
No. 4 Refugio and No. 2 Hawley kickoff the UIL 2A-DI state championship on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 11 a.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. Refugio has won five state championships (2019, 2016, 2011, 1982 and 1970 (Co-Champion)).