For the last 26 games, the first 26 varsity games of Krum’s short-lived football history, Krum head coach Gary Robinson has preached to his team about playing football in December.
That notion was previously impossible. Krum had never played UIL varsity football before this season, a season in which the Bobcats were slotted to finish last in District 9-3A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
Tonight is Game 27. And playing football in December is no longer an afterthought.
The Krum Bobcats will try to win their first playoff game when they face the Celina Bobcats at 7:30 tonight at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
The winner of the Class 3A Division II bi-district game faces either Dallas Madison or Bonham in the next round.
Robinson said the challenge forKrum (9-1) tonight presents a great opportunity for a program looking to establish itself.
“The Krum Bobcat program’s on the rise, and in order for us to be a big dog, we have to beat the big dogs,” Robinson said. “And we have an opportunity to do that [tonight].”
Celina (8-2) has been one of the “big dogs” of Texas, winning six state titles and playing in eight state championship games since 1998. In Class 3A, Celina’s went 1-2 on the state’s biggest stage, winning the 3A Division II title in 2007. Five state titles were won in Class 2A.
One of the three goals Robinson had established this season was earning respect, a thing he knew had to be earned for the school in its first season in district competition.
Junior quarterback Caz Wojciak and senior running back Reed Flores have bolstered Krum’s offensive attack and gained the respect of opposing defenses all season.
Wojciak (1,187 rushing yards, 14 touchdowns) and Flores (1,424 rushing yards, 20 touchdowns) have been the catalysts for Krum’s rushing game this season, an attack that was stifled in its only loss of the season against Gainesville, a game that decided the 9-3A title.
“I don’t think they necessarily slept on us — maybe took us a little big lightly,” Wojciak said of opposing teams and fellow naysayers. “I mean, we have two kids in the backfield under 5-10. Obviously people are going to take you lightly. We just prove people wrong. That’s what we’ve been doing all year. That’s what we’re going to do [tonight].”
Robinson’s team played three road games in its first year, stayed home for the other seven and finished 6-4 in 2011. Then in 2012, Robinson turned a school with a new football program into a playoff team.
And to prepare for the bigger stadium that Krum will play in tonight, Robinson shuttled his players in one of the school’s blue-and-white buses Tuesday to C.H. Collins, where they practiced until the sun was all but set.
In a rare occurrence, Krum will have enough seating to fit a fan base that’s been supportive of its new team all season. In Krum’s final game at Gainesville, fans lined the inner fence of Leopard Stadium.
Krum has the daunting task of facing Celina and proving people wrong, conditions Krum have become accustomed to and thrived under.
“[Celina’s] a bigger team, but our whole saying of our team is ‘Shock the World,’” Flores said. “And that’s we came out here to do.”
For a team yet to win a playoff game, Krum is brimming with confidence. Robinson attributes that to the amount of time this group of kids has played with each other, or at least that’s his initial guess.
“I think they love each other, and they play for each other, and they’re not going to let each other down,” Robinson said. “And they do have a lot of confidence in themselves. I don’t know where that comes from, but it’s a good thing. It feels good.”
On Tuesday, when the team kneeled around Robinson after practice in the middle of the field, Robinson closed his speech to the team by saying, “Next time we’re out here, it’ll be the real deal.”
Tonight at C.H. Collins, when Krum steps out of the visitor’s locker room, one set of bleachers will be shaded blue and the other shaded orange, both sides watching to see if the young pups can hang with the “big dogs.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .