Last year’s Cotton Bowl loss still fresh in Kats’ minds

RAYMONDVILLE — What a difference one season makes.

With the Raymondville Bearkats heading into this year’s annual Willacy County Cotton Bowl with a 2-0 record, it’s hard to imagine that just one season ago the Bearkats were struggling and heading into one of its biggest games of the season at 0-2.

Eventually, Raymondville would start the season 0-3 after a devastating 49-7 loss to the Bulldogs, which would prompt a change that has begun to pay dividends this season.

“The biggest change so far has been trying to change the culture around the team and the way we think,” said Raymondville head coach Frank Cantu. “We had a lot of things go wrong really, really early last year, but we were able to clean that up and hang on to the ball, play solid defense, make some good tackles and it’s showed in the way we’ve played so far.

“This year we’ve been real happy in what we’ve been able to do on defense. We’re a year older and we are not making some of those mistakes that we were making last year. But, really, it’s been a confidence thing. Since we have a lot of guys coming back, they just feel more comfortable and they feel like they trust it a little bit more, and it shows and we’ve just been happy with the results.”

As many Raymondville fans will remember, last season the Bearkats’ defense gave up 95 points through its first two games alone. By contrast, this season the defense has given up just 19 points.

Nevertheless, the team is far from forgetting last year’s harsh lesson and is not letting this year’s 2-0 start detract it from the game that lies ahead.

“We feel pumped up due to the two wins under our belt and we feel pretty good going in, and we wouldn’t go into this game any other way,” said junior Jacob Posas. “We’ve been talking about what happened last year and we’re just using that to fuel us.”

“We’re just trying to keep our body under our head and trying not to think too far ahead, and take it one game at a time and hopefully come out with the win,” said senior quarterback Daniel Gutierrez. “We were very upset with our game last season and we are definitely feeding off of that.

“We were young and had big hearts, but we just couldn’t do it. This year, we have more experience and we just want to win.”