No. 1 Mason Focused on Unfamiliar Foe San Augustine
MASON, TX-- The no. 1-ranked Mason Punchers are getting to live out a childhood dream and they’re excited.
With their 28-14 win over no. 9 Refugio last week, the Punchers are in the state semifinals for the first time in four years.
Players like senior defensive tackle Rudy Martinez grew up watching the 2011 and 2014 teams make it to Arlington. He was in sixth grade when they won it in 2011.
“I remember watching the 2011 team and the 2014 team in the semifinals,” Martinez said. “Now I’m practicing for the semis. It’s unbelievable.”
You could argue that Martinez made the most crucial tackle in last week’s game. He stuffed Refugio’s Austin Ochoa just short of the goal line on a fourth-and-goal run while his team led 28-14 in the fourth quarter. It was Refugio’s best chance at scoring in the second half and their best chance to revive their season.
“That goal line stand, I just felt it. It’s just time. We’re not gonna lose to these guys again,” Martinez thought.
That stout defense is nothing new for Mason. They’ve boasted the arguably state’s best defense over the last two years. So, relying on their staple is always exciting for the Punchers.
“We just play our hearts out,” Martinez said simply.
Aside from a confidence boost from beating the team that ended their season in three consecutive years, that game is in the past for Mason.
“They should be confident in what they’re doing,” head coach Kade Burns said. “Confidence comes in your preparation throughout the course of the days and weeks and months leading up to those games.”
So, Mason quickly turned their attention to the San Augustine Wolves (12-2), the only opponent left between them and state.
“They’re really excited about playing a really good San Augustine team,” Burns said. “We played well last week, but that game is dead and gone. We’ve gotta move on. I know we have a challenge in front of us, playing the Region III winner. But I know the kids are excited about the opportunity in front of them.”
Thursday’s meeting between the two teams will be the first. Yet, Mason has already done their research on the unfamiliar opponent.
“They’re extremely skillful in the skill positions. They are very big on both sides of the ball up front,” Burns said.
San Augustine boasts two linemen around 300 pounds, according to their roster.
“So, we’re gonna have to use the things we do well in our quickness and our ability to get off blocks,” Burns added.
The Wolves have ran the ball well this season with a three-headed monster out of the backfield.
Junior Tijay Thomas has rushed for 2,335 yards and 27 touchdowns on 237 carries this season. Along with him, sophomores DelMarquise and Kevorion Brown have rushed for a combined 2,005 yards with each of them over 1,000 on the year.
“At the end of the day, we’ve gotta be great tacklers because their skill guys are so good when they get the ball and they break a lot of tackles,” Burns said. “They’re really explosive when they get it.”
But Mason has seen and stopped just about everything this season from Wall’s potent offense to their starting safety and quarterback Otto Wofford being ejected last week. Because of that experience, the Punchers feel nothing can surprise them from here on and that team mentality will be big this week.
“We did a really good job in our offense, especially when we lost our quarterback,” Burns said of last week. “But it wasn’t just one guy. It was a whole team effort … We got the ball around when we had to. Guys made plays when they had to. I think that was critical in our success on offense.”
Mason and San Augustine are scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Waco ISD Stadium on Friday, Dec. 14.
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