Class 2A Division II
State Semifinals

Waskom Wildcats (14-0)

vs.

Refugio Bobcats (13-1)

7:30 p.m. Thursday

Reliant Stadium, Houston

 

Coaches
  • Waskom: Whitney Keeling
  • Refugio: Jason Herring

 

Last week

 

Next week
  • Winner faces Cisco (14-0) or Leonard (11-3) in the 2A D-II state championship, 8 p.m. Dec. 19, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

 

Playmakers

Waskom

  • RB Kevin Johnson, Jr., 5-9, 165 (116 carries, 1,682 yards, 24 TDs)
  • ATH June Bug Johnson, Jr., 5-8, 150 (122 carries, 1,384 yards, 17 TDs; 8 catches, 338 yards, 6 TDs; 9 of 14, 130 yards, 3 TDs, 2 INTs)
  • FB Dillon Benton, Jr., 5-9, 175 (104 carries, 1,183 yards, 16 TDs)
  • QB Trace Carter, Jr., 6-1, 170 (154 carries, 1,036 yards, 14 TDs; 18 of 39, 500 yards, 7 TDs, 3 INTs)
  • RB/LB Chandrin Amie, Soph., 5-10, 160
  • DL Justin Spurlin, Sr., 5-7, 160
  • LB Mike Reason, Soph., 5-8, 155
  • FB/DL Tony Ratcliff, Jr., 5-11, 185

 

Refugio

  • QB Travis Quintanilla, Sr., 5-10, 180 (4,628 passing yards, 60 TDs, 8 INTs; 375 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs, 80 rushing yards, 1 TD last week vs. East Bernard)
  • WR Dana Franklin, Sr., 5-9, 175 (3 TD catches vs. East Bernard)
  • ATH Les Rhodes (1 INT, 1 fumble recovery vs. East Bernard)
  • RB Isaiah Perez, Soph., 5-10, 180 (1 TD run vs. East Bernard)
  • WR Tyler Castellano, Jr., 5-7, 160 (1 TD catch vs. East Bernard)
  • LB Alex Coronado, Sr., 6-0, 190

 

Just the facts
  • Thursday's game marks Waskom's first-ever appearance in the state semifinals.
  • Refugio has been to five state championship games. The Bobcats won the 1982 Class 3A state title and the 2011 Class 2A Division II state crown.
  • Waskom averages 52.3 points per game and allows 18.7.
  • Refugio averages 56.4 points per game and allows 18.0.
  • Waskom has scored fewer than 53 points only three times in 14 games this season, including each of the last two weeks (33-14 win vs. Crawford, 24-22 win vs. Corrigan-Camden).
  • Refugio has scored 51 or more points nine times in 14 contests.
  • Waskom has held 7 of 14 opponents to 14 points or less.
  • Refugio has held 8 of 14 opponents to 10 points or less.
  • Refugio's 40-34 win against defending state champion East Bernard avenged a 54-23 loss in last year's Region IV final.
  • Refugio erased a 14-point deficit to beat East Bernard.
  • Refugio quarterback Travis Quintanilla's 80 rushing yards in last week's win vs. East Bernard were a career high, according to the Houston Chronicle.
  • Quintanilla's four interceptions in the first half of the win vs. East Bernard matched his interception total for the first 13 games of the season.
  • Quintanilla owns two all-time state passing records: career yards (more than 13,000) and career touchdown passes (178).
  • He broke the career yardage mark previously held by Lake Travis star Garrett Gilbert (12,537). He broke the career touchdown pass mark previously held by Ennis star Graham Harrell (167).
  • Quintanilla threw for 712 yards and seven touchdowns in Refugio's 73-72 third-round overtime win against Rogers.
  • Refugio allowed 661 rushing yards on 7.9 yards per carry during last week's win against East Bernard.
  • Waskom, which has averaged about 450 rushing yards per game this season, ran 50 times for 316 yards in last week's win against Corrigan-Camden.
  • Each of the last two teams Waskom beat were undefeated (Crawford, Corrigan-Camden).
  • Each of the last two teams Refugio beat were undefeated (Rogers, East Bernard).

 

Key matchup: Waskom's running game vs. Refugio's defensive front. When Waskom can run the ball, the Wildcats are extremely hard to stop. It just so happens that's been the case pretty much every game of the 2013 season.

The closest anybody has come to containing the Wildcats' potent ground attack was a week ago, when Corrigan-Camden "held," so to speak, the the 'Cats to 6.3 yards per carry. Waskom ran 50 times and eclipsed the 300-yard mark, anyway, en route to winning its first regional championship.

Waskom's June Bug Johnson hauls in a 55-yard touchdown pass during a 60-13 win at Elysian Fields on Friday night. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

Kevin Johnson, June Bug Johnson, Dillon Benton, and Trace Carter have given head coach Whitney Keeling a bevy of capable ball-carrying options all season. Speed is what stands out, and there's no doubt Refugio and head coach Jason Herring have planned for it the last few days during their shortened week leading up to the Thursday night state semifinal.

Refugio possesses a powerful offense of its own led by the state's most prolific quarterback in history. Travis Quintanilla has thrown 50-plus touchdown passes each of the last three seasons and led the Bobcats to the 2011 Class 2A Division II state championship as a sophomore.

But the Bobcats must rely on their defense to slow down Waskom. There's no doubt that Refugio possesses a strong defensive unit, but at the same time, Rogers and East Bernard have shown that Refugio can be vulnerable. That was especially the case against Rogers, which ran for 661 yards in its 73-72 loss to the Bobcats.

If Waskom runs it the way the Wildcats are capable, Keeling and company could be in good shape for what most people across the state would consider an eye-opening upset.

Waskom's Kevin Johnson runs the ball during the Wildcats' 60-13 road win at Elysian Fields on Friday night. (Jeff Stapleton, ETSN.fm)

Don't be surprised if: This game comes down to the wire. A look at Waskom's regional final against Corrigan-Camden and Refugio's last two games, which were decided by a total of seven points, point to the depth and quality of the 2A D-II field.

Both of these teams have shown that they're worthy of reaching the state championship next week in Arlington, a dream come true for every high school player in the state.

Can Waskom dictate the game's tempo and keep Refugio's high-powered passing game off the field? Will Refugio score too often for the Wildcat running game to keep up?

Those questions will be answered Thursday at the home of the Houston Texans, Reliant Stadium, a stage that makes Waskom's unprecedented run that much more special. Waskom will likely be considered the underdog across the state this week, but the Wildcats won't be a pushover for perennial power Refugio. In fact, this game could very well come down to the wire.