REFUGIO, Texas — Death, taxes and preseason hype for the Refugio Bobcats. All are constants in life.
It was an unfamiliar situation for the Bobcats last year when they fell to the eventual state champion Mason Punchers, 28-14, in the Regional Finals last season.
According to star linebacker and four-year letterman Ysidro Mascorro, it was the earliest he had seen his team get knocked out of the playoffs.
It was a wild scene at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Dec. 7. The Punchers lost their starting quarterback to a targeting ejection leaving the Bobcats with a golden opportunity to take advantage. They could not. Mason's size was too much to overcome and head coach Jason Herring knew that.
"Right after Mason beat us we needed to evaluate what went wrong," Herring said. "We made a really strong, concentrated effort on getting into the weight room."
An off season of grit and grind followed the loss to Mason; players determined to get stronger and come back for a state title the Bobcats won in 2016.
The off-season work seemed to pay off for the Bobcats, at least on paper.
Refugio is ranked as the top Conference 2A Division I team in the state entering the season. Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine is projecting the Bobcats to reach the top once again. It's a lot of pressure. But it is nothing new for a team that constantly finds itself in the conversation as one of best programs in Texas.
"We like the expectations, that has become a part of the Refugio tradition," Herring said.
The state should be on high alert this year. The Bobcats will have Austin Ochoa returning at quarterback after missing nearly half of 2018. Ochoa transferred to Refugio from Gregory-Portland in the middle of the 2018 season. Now he returns as the undisputed leader of the offense and will have a full year working with Herring's offensive system.
"I think I know a lot more now which is good," Ochoa said. "I'm ready to get the ball rolling."
Refugio and its explosive offense will take the field as they aim for the state title run when they take on Tidehaven in their Aug. 30 opener.