“It takes a perfect storm and all things have to come together,” he said back then.
Last Friday in Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, the Bobcats’ 29-year drought ended with a 36-35 championship nail-biter that went down to the wire. The Cats earned their third championship in four appearances for the title.
Senior Cory Brown (10) was named most valuable defensive player and sophomore Travis Quintanilla (34), most valuable offensive player.
The quarterback passed for 372 yards and three touchdowns.
Quintanilla has never lost a game since he began quarterbacking in seventh grade. He is also the AP Player of the Year.
Brown tallied six catches for 110 yards, 10 tackles and slapped away a pass to stop a touchdown.
The all-around athlete took a hard hit to the back on a nine-yard completion on a fourth and four to keep the drive alive. The next play Brown went back in and caught a 48-yard touchdown pass.
Both teams will have their share of returning starters next year.
“Cisco’s a real young ball club,” coach Jason Herring said. “They’re going to be back, but so are we. We might just meet again next year.”
Following the initial celebration on the field, Herring scaled the wall to the stands where his wife, Lisa, was standing.
“After all we’ve been through, when it was done, I was so relieved; I wanted to be with the person I love the most,” he said.
The reunion was witnessed by thousands of people on television.
On his 21st wedding anniversary last Thursday, Herring was not with his wife. He was traveling with the Bobcats to Arlington for the championship game.
“My wife is the only one who understood how bad and how hard all the negativity was,” he said.
The critics who misunderstood Herring’s strategy to make the team better sounded off throughout the season. They hurt Herring but prepared the team mentally for the tough game with Cisco.
“We’re just doing our thing out there,” said Shiloh Whetsel, all-state running back and leading rusher for the Bobcats.
The Cats also had another goal – to help AP defensive player of the year Donald Treviño (44) keep a promise to his mother – to win a state championship. She succumbed to cancer last year.
“I’m actually real proud of our team for being able to keep my promise because I don’t know how I’d be able to live my life without keeping my promise to my mom,” Donald said after the game.
Lynx Hawthorne (2), all-state receiver and honor student, is eligible to graduate at midterm and begin spring training at Baylor University. A newcomer in Refugio this year, Hawthorne made key plays in the championship game, including three touchdowns, while catching 10 passes for 201 yards.
“There’s no better way to end your high school career than with a state championship,” Hawthorne said.
In the end, running back Draigon Silvas (28) made the first down in the closing seconds to clinch the victory.
“I’ve never doubted this group of kids,” Herring said. “In a big game like this, two times we got inside the 5-yard line in the first half and didn’t come away with points. We do that – this whole game’s different.”
Herring was quick to credit Cisco for the toughest game of the season.
“That’s what great teams do,” he said. “We let them hang around and that’s what good teams do.”
Along the way, the Bobcats broke the state point record held by the Big Sandy Wildcats since 1975. Sophomore Adolfo Cordero set the point-after kicking record set last year by another Bobcat, Christian Padron.
Ironically, Herring lead his Sonora team to a state championship on Dec. 16, 2000 – 11 years to the day from the Bobcats’ championship.
The Cats finished the season with 891 points, a state record, but fell short of the 903-point national record.
Cordero also holds the state record for point-after kicks with 205.
The Bobcats have now logged the most wins in 2A history.
With 43 playoff appearances, the Cats also have made the most in 2A history and are fifth overall.