CISCO, Texas - Cisco. Refugio. Arlington. What kind of memories do these three words bring back to the Cisco players?
"Complete and total heartache. I was in total shock. I didn't really know what to do, I just kinda looked at the scoreboard and cried, and cried for a couple days," said senior fullback Vernon Owings.
"Of course, the loss in 2011 comes to mind. We took a heartbreaking loss, and we've got revenge on our minds," said senior quarterback Colten Kent.
Refugio snatched the state title from Cisco by just one point two seasons ago.
Revenge might even be enough to erase the haunting that past players still carry.
"If I could go back again. Just play every down like it's the last play and do everything you can to come out on top," said former Cisco running back Hayden Lewis.
After four appearances in the state finals since 2001, the Loboes have never experienced the glory of hoisting that gold ball after the state championship game. But what they have experienced is this exact scenario coming up at kickoff on Thursday.
"Our kids aren't nervous at all. And I will say we probably were in 2011. Refugio was making national attention with the amount of scoring they were doing that year and there were a lot of nerves and tension," said head coach Brent West.
And the Loss in 2011 has fueled every single inch of the Loboes' success since then.
"We are extremely close as not only seniors but as a team. We have grown together as almost a little family," said Owings.
"We have a lot of confidence but we know that we've got to still play our game. They're really good and we can get beat on any given night," added Kent.
And their last given night is just two days away. 325 miles south of Cisco, Texas, there's a group of hungry Bobcats just looking to repeat.
"We're all excited to go back to Arlington, that's been our goal all year. We're happy to go back," said Refugio's senior quarterback Travis Quantinilla, who holds the record for most passing yards and touchdowns in Texas.
The Loboes and Bobcats kick off at 8 p.m. Thursday night at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
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