REFUGIO, Texas — The last two seasons, Refugio’s last game came at the hands of Shiner.
This year, the Bobcats and Comanches will be in the same district. Refugio head coach Jason Herring looks forward to having a regular season game against the Comanches.
“I’m kind of excited to have them twice. That game has kind of blown out of proportion, it’s all or nothing; it’s four rounds deep. I kind of like the idea that we’re going to play them and win or lose, you’re still alive, and you’ve probably got a good shot of meeting them again in four or five weeks,” Herring said. “I think a good district just gets us seasoned and gets us ready.”
The Bobcats will have a challenge this year in their pursuit to return to the State Championship for the first time since 2019: more than half their roster from last year graduated.
“We’re young, we’ve got to break in some new folks right now, start a couple of freshmen and four or five sophomores,” Herring said. “Even the juniors, a lot of them, this is the first year for them to be ‘the man,’ they were behind some seniors last year.”
One of the juniors who will play a bigger role this year is running back, and lineman is Troy Haug. Haug does not have a lot of varsity experience.
“Whenever I get in, I always do my best and give it everything I’ve got,” he said.
“It’s just awesome playing for the Refugio Bobcats, I grew up watching the Bobcats play football, and it’s always been a dream of mine. So, just go out there and have fun, live in the moment," he said.
Herring expects the seniors on the team to step up and lead the inexperienced group of players.
“We don’t have a lot of seniors, but they’re very good leaders. So, they’ve kind of taken over the team, and they’re bringing the younglings along,” he said.
Quarterback Caleb Hesseltine knows that expectation and welcomes it.
“I feel like I’ve just got to step up; I’ve got to be the leader,” he said. “I feel good, we had a great off-season.”
Senior receiver and safety Branson Boxell missed last year to an injury but is ready to use what he learned from last year’s seniors to lead this year.
“We’ve got to step up as seniors and try to do what they did,” he said.
Boxell is optimistic about what he’s seen from the younger guys on the team.
“They’ve definitely showed a lot, they’re really good, they just need to be a lot more physical, and they’re just trying to get their feet wet on varsity,” he said.
Hesseltine expects the younger players to step up for the Bobcats this year.
“It’s a big deal for them. They’ve got a big role, they have big shoes to fill, but I think we’ll be good,” he said.
Coach Herring expects his team to get better as the season continues and knows the inexperienced players will be ready when they’re needed.
“I like where we’re at, mentally and physically, right now,” he said. “By the time we need them ready, they’ll be ready.”