Upon Further Review: Victory over Refugio showcases Lago Vista’s rising football program

To fire up his team for a game at Refugio last week, Lago Vista football coach Alan Haire showed his players an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report about the Bobcats, one that portrayed Refugio as a team that showed no mercy toward its opponents.

The Vikings watched as Refugio coach Jason Herring screamed at his players during a second-quarter timeout. The scoreboard behind one end zone reflected a 41-0 lead for the Bobcats.

“We could be on the wrong end of one of those 80-point games if we’re not ready to play,” Haire told his team.

Not this time.

One year after losing to Refugio 28-12, Lago Vista upset the No. 4 Bobcats 45-39 Friday night, a stunning result that reverberated throughout South Texas. Refugio’s 62-game regular-season winning streak had ended, and the team that defeated five straight foes by a combined score of 367-12 in 2011 had lost on its own turf.

“We all had a little hatred in our hearts” after watching the “Outside the Lines” report, said Vikings senior running back Seth Lozano, who missed Friday’s game because of a broken collarbone. During halftime, Lozano gave a pep talk to his teammates, urging them to keep fighting after Refugio took a 25-22 lead.

The biggest victory in Lago Vista’s short football history was in doubt until the Vikings outscored the Bobcats 23-0 in the fourth quarter. It was capped by a 71-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Adams to Eriq Mitchell with 19 seconds to go.

The upset casts a spotlight on Lago Vista and Haire, who inherited a team that was 1-16 in its first two seasons of varsity football (1999-2000). It took Haire seven years to lead the Vikings to a winning season, but Lago Vista is 55-19 since 2007, reaching the playoffs six times in that span.

Haire’s belief that football is “90 percent mental” is reflected on signs and banners inside this Class 2A high school on the north shore of Lake Travis. One message above the locker room doors reads: “Hard Work Beats Talent When Talent Does Not Work Hard.”

“Winning isn’t the only thing, but wanting to win is,” Haire said Monday morning.

Haire, 44, had two reasons for showing his players the ESPN report about the 2011 Refugio team that scored a state-record 891 points, 13 shy of the national record. He wanted the Vikings to be fully aware of the strength of the team Herring had built. But Haire also wanted his players to witness a team that appeared to take glee in beating its opponents by 10 touchdowns or more.

In a 2011 game against Freer, Herring called timeouts late in the first half to score another touchdown, and Refugio scored on a long pass in the third quarter of a 91-6 victory.

On Friday, Refugio jumped ahead of Lago Vista 15-0 and led 39-22 in the third quarter after Travis Quintanilla threw this third touchdown pass of the game.

“All I said was to keep pluggin’ away,” said Haire, who watched his team narrow the deficit to 39-37 on touchdown runs by Mitchell and Dallas Bradberry.

Mitchell’s winning touchdown on a short pass in the closing seconds appeared to surprise Refugio, Haire said.

“I think they expected Eriq to run out of bounds and stop the clock, but he cut up the middle and went the distance,” the coach said.

Lago Vista clinched the victory when Bradley Wiechman intercepted a Quintanilla pass in the waning seconds.

The Vikings celebrated by spending Friday night in Port Aransas before visiting the University of Texas Marine Science Institute on Saturday, all part of a trip that was planned during the summer. They even squeezed in two hours of fun on the beach.

“They were like dogs who had just been let go from their leash,” Haire said.

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