REFUGIO, Texas — In 2020, the Refugio football team did not play a single home game.
Jack Sportsman Bobcat Stadium, built in the 1950’s, was condemned and had to be renovated.
“You don’t realize what you have until it’s taken away,” Refugio coach Jason Herring said. “All year long, seventh grade, eighth grade, JV, varsity, every game was on the road.”
No games in Refugio meant 11 games on the road or at neutral sites. While many Bobcat fans traveled to root for their teams, it was not the same as having a home crowd.
“It was pretty challenging, not playing any home games, not having a home atmosphere,” said Bobcat senior receiver and defensive back Jordan Kelley.
All the travel took its toll on the Bobcat coaches and players as well.
“About week five, it already felt like we were on week 12, we were just worn out,” Herring said.
“It was really draining just to be traveling, be a late game, get done late, then be traveling, get home 2 in the morning. It wasn’t fun,” said senior lineman Hayden Lafrance.
However, the Bobcats’ play did not suffer with the road schedule. The team finished the season 10-1, falling to the eventual state champion Shiner in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A playoffs, 24-13. But the players are looking forward to playing at Bobcat Stadium again this year.
“We did what we had to do, but we would rather have been here,” Lafrance said. “I haven’t played a game since my sophomore year. It’s been a long time.”
The Bobcats' return home will be meaningful, Herring said.
“Playing here means a lot, our kids just love wearing their black uniforms, they love Bobcat Stadium, they love the crowd," he said. "Our town is about football."
The players describe the atmosphere at home games with one word, "crazy."
“Our fans get really loud every single time we play,” Kelley said.
“Everyone’s loud, all the fans get excited, and it’s just nice to be back here,” Lafrance said.
The Bobcats are the top team in Class 2A coming into the 2021 season, but Coach Herring doesn’t want that to get in his players’ heads.
“I tell the kids, that doesn’t mean we’re going to win it, but what it does mean is we’re probably going to have a shot," Herring said. "Even when you’re loaded, and even when you’re number one, it’s still hard to win it."
The Bobcats start the season on the road, but return home for week two to host the George West Longhorns on Sept. 3.