2012 had been a very good year for East Bernard football. Unbeaten in the regular season the Brahmas carried that success to the playoffs, shutting out its first two opponents. But there was a big roadblock looming in the fourth round in Refugio.
For four years, the Refugio Bobcats terrorized 2A football teams the way the Yates basketball team abused 4A schools in 2010. The reining state champions and three time defending Region IV champs had lost two games since the start of the 2009 season. The first half played out much the way Refugio would expect and the Brahmas went to halftime trailing 23-13.
“We came out a little flat and they ran all over us and passed all over us,” running back Ty Slanina said.
“I think at halftime everything happened,” defensive end Jordan Darr said. “Everybody talked, everybody was ready.”
“One of our teammates got up and was inspirational to all of us and he kind of helped us get back to focusing on the whole team as a one,” added defensive end and senior Mac Gideon. “He reminded us that we’re in this together and this could be our last game. It kind of hit the seniors all at the same time. We were like we’re not ready to go yet.”
“We came out (in the second half) and were able to score on that first drive, and then we were able to get a stop on defense which is something we didn’t do in the first half,” said East Bernard head coach Jerry Long. “And then immediately scored again to go ahead.”
East Bernard pounced on Refugio the way Ralphie took out Scut Farkus in the movie A Christmas Story. In the blink of an eye, the bravado around the bully was crushed and East Bernard unleashed a torrent of touchdowns to win 54-23.
“I think there was probably a little panic there on their part and it just kind of snowballed,” East Bernard head coach Long said.
The win sent the town into celebration overdrive. East Bernard’s 2,300 citizens couldn’t contain their excitement.
“We have practice every Saturday morning, and me and another teammate went to the coffee shop before practice and we walked in and everybody started clapping,” Slanina said. “Our classmates and everybody were just so excited about the Refugio game that we kind of have to tell them to back off because that game is over.”
Now it’s Elysian Fields that stands in the way of East Bernard’s first title game appearance in 30 years. The Yellowjackets run a spread, just like Refugio does, and the Brahmas defense is ready.
“Defense wins championships,” Slanina said. “You know if the other team doesn’t put any points on the board it can’t win.”
Those are words East Bernard has lived by this year.
“We’ve kind of hung our hat there, six shutouts I believe in 13 games,” Long said. “That’s something we’ve put a lot of emphasis on this season, and before the season started. We were going to get our best athletes on the field on defense.”
“Our defensive front, they’ve just been solid,” Slanina said. “They’ve been a dominating front all year and hopefully that keeps on happening.”