HUNTSVILLE -- Manuel Silvas stood face to face with Draigon Silvas on the sideline at Bowers Stadium and told him to wipe away his tears.
"You were the baddest man out there," the elder Silvas told his son. "Keep your head up. You really showed me something tonight. You were the baddest man out there."
Draigon Silvas appreciated the encouragement, but it couldn't erase the disappointment of Refugio's 35-10 Class 2A, Division II semifinal loss to Daingerfiled on a misty Saturday night.
Silvas, a freshman, showed his talent by rushing for 101 yards and accounting for 183 all-purpose yards, but displayed his youth by fumbling five times as Refugio ended the season with a 14-1 record.
"I learned that you can't make mistakes," Silvas said. "That was a good team we were playing against."
Daingerfield improved to 14-1 and will attempt to win its second consecutive state championship in next week's final against Bushland, a 42-34 winner over Callisburg on Saturday night.
"You can't make any mistakes to go to a state championship," said junior running back Terrence Smith. "We need to practice harder and not make any mistakes. We have to stay focused in practice and listen to the coaches."
Refugio lost two fumbles and had two interceptions and they led to 21 of the Tigers' 28 second-quarter points. The Bobcats were never able to recover, scoring only on a 5-yard run by Jourdan Ortiz in the fourth quarter.
"I don't think we ever really lost focus on the goal," senior Dylan Klare said. "We had our heads up and we were ready to go. We just couldn't pull it out in the end. This was a great lesson for our younger guys. They learned a lot. Playoff experience teaches you so much. Next year they'll be a force to be reckoned with again."
Refugio appeared to be a force against Daingerfield when it put together a 20-play, 83-yard drive that consumed 11 minutes and 3 seconds of the first and second quarters and culminated in a 26-yard field goal by Jhoston Padron for a 3-0 lead.
"Our game plan honestly was they were so fast we thought our best chance was to line up and run right at them," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "Boy, it worked to perfection there for a while and then they started catching on and loading everybody up. They're just so skilled out wide. They were in straight man coverage and normally you need to throw the football. We just couldn't get anybody open so eventually they started stacking it up and stopping us and then we had to try and throw the ball and of course interceptions and fumbles."
The Tigers made the Bobcats pay for their turnovers and scored four touchdowns within a 5:47 span of the second quarter.
"I've been trying to tell people that they don't give those things away and state championships are real hard to win," Herring said. "We've been talking about this for a long time. We knew if we got here, the road would probably go through Daingerfield."
Refugio's road came to an end against Daingerfield. But with a majority of starters returning, the Bobcats are hoping for a longer trip next year.
"We have to try a lot harder than what we did this year," Silvas said. "We can't make any mistakes and we have to practice throughout the year perfect. We have to do everything we did this year and a lot more."
Quarterback shuffle: Refugio used four quarterbacks against Daingerfield like it did in its 22-14 quarterfinal win over Blanco. Seniors Kyle Hendley, Ortiz, junior Aaron Perez and Silvas took snaps.
Like a Cat: Silvas had an eventful 1-yard run in the second quarter. He fumbled the ball, picked it up, was hit and did a complete flip but landed on his feet. Silvas rushed 27 times for 101 yards, completed his only pass for 34 yards, caught a pass for 10 yards and had two kickoff returns for 38 yards.
History: Daingerfield will be making its seventh appearance in a state final and will be going for its fifth state title. Refugio was making its first semifinal appearance since 2000. The Bobcats have made four state final appearances and won two state championships. Refugio was seeking win No. 605 in school history, which would have put them on top of Class 2A. Refugio remains tied with Groveton for the lead.
Good Record: Even with the loss, Herring has a 40-3 record in his three seasons at Refugio.
Not a Passing Fancy: Daingerfield had a negative-one yard passing. But running back KoKo Smith rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Tyler Boyd rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns.
Turnovers: Refugio turned the ball over four times and Daingerfield three. All of the Tigers' turnovers came in the second half. Refugio's Bryant Lewis had an interception and a fumble recovery and Bryan Castellano also recovered a fumble