Mason Looking to Avenge 2017 Loss in Fifth Straight Meeting With Refugio
MASON, TX-- Saturday will mark a year since Refugio handed Mason their only loss of the 2017 season. It came in the Class 2A Division I Region IV final at the Alamodome.
The two teams are set to meet at the same venue in the same round just shy of a year after that clash. All of Mason’s work has led to this game.
“Throughout the season, we’ve been looking forward to this game,” said junior Klay Klaerner. “It’s always been in the corner of our eyes, but we’ve been focusing on what’s next and it’s finally here. We’re ready for it.”
After that 2017 game, head coach Kade Burns put “38-14,” the score of that loss, on the whiteboard in the Punchers’ weight room. It serves as a constant reminder of the unfinished business Mason has had this season.
“You know, to be the best, you’ve gotta beat the best,” Burns said. “Quite honestly, they (Refugio) have been the best in Region IV the last three years.”
By not letting the team forget the heartbreaking loss and scheduling a list of successful teams in non-district, Burns threw down a gauntlet. His team responded by outscoring opponents by an average of 39 points this season.
“We’ve been doing our best so we can show everyone this is our year,” Klaerner said.
Refugio has won three consecutive regional titles and have been at the state championship the last three years. To get there, they had to go through Mason with the last two meetings coming in the regional final.
Yet, the 2018 season hasn’t exactly been a revenge tour. At least, in Burns’ eyes it hasn’t. For the players, they know what implications this game has. The winner of Region IV has gone to state the last four years.
“We’re excited to be in the game. Region IV is tough,” Burns continued. “There’s a lot of really really good teams. And there are a lot of ‘em not playing right now. That was one of the things we told the guys. We congratulated them on getting here, because getting here is not easy. So, we’re excited about the possibility of playing ‘em. We have tremendous respect for their football program. Their success speaks for itself. We’re excited about the challenge on Friday.
“The previous games have no bearing on this game. Absolutely nothing. That’s one of the things we told the kids. Just because they beat us last year or the year before, that means nothing for this game. It means absolutely nothing.”
Despite an 11-2 record, Refugio is just as dangerous this year as they were last year.
Since losing to Mart in week five, Refugio has won eight straight games by a combined score of 517-63. They gave up 41 of those 63 points in their 15-point win over Shiner last week. So, you don’t have to tell the Punchers what they’re up against.
“It’s gonna be harder to start on a high because they’re a really good team,” Klaerner said. “We’re gonna have to start that first drive off good and stop them on their first drive. We’re always ready to start off with a stop. That’s what our defense looks forward to.”
“When you get to this time of the year, there’s nothing but high quality teams,” Burns said. “You have to stay in the moment at all aspects of the game. You can’t get too emotionally high when things go well. You can’t get too emotionally low when things don’t go well. You just have to keep playing and stay the course.”
That’s the idea for this game.
“They kinda grinded us down a little bit last year and got us tired,” Burns said. “We’ve just gotta stay the course for what we’re doing and stay in the moment because you can’t look ahead. Our kids are too seasoned. They know too much about the game and what lies ahead of us. Nobody can afford at this point in the season to look ahead to another opponent. If you do that, you’re packing your stuff up.”
Mason and Refugio are set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff this Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.