The Kilgore Bulldogs are headed to the state tournament for the third year in a row.
"We're excited and I think we're a little more focused to come away with a couple victories from there," said Austin Walker, Kilgore boys soccer head coach.
In their last two state appearances the Bulldogs have made the trip to Georgetown, only to be knocked out in the state semifinals. It's been a unwelcome re-occurrence that they are determined to change this year.
"All year was this is our goal. Our goal is to get back to that game and then win it and go to the next one. I think they just took it and ran with it, and everything has been about getting back to that point and winning a state tournament," said Coach Walker.
"We know we got to give it a hundred percent. We're not going to travel that far just to lose, we are going to travel that far to come back with a title and make the town proud," said Elian Torres, sophomore Bulldog.
Kilgore hasn't had an easy season by any mean, but when the going get's tough the Bulldogs have found a way to overcome. It's that ability to adjust that this team will have to tap in to now more than ever after finding out hours before loading the bus that their state semifinal opponent has changed.
"We were pretty shocked. We knew a little bit about Wheatley, then he told us it's Washington and we don't know anything. We know Wheatley beat them, but that doesn't mean we can beat them. So we are just going to go out there and try our hardest," said Torres.
Houston Wheatley defeated Houston Washington in the Class 4A Region III Final but did so with an ineligible player, forcing the UIL to disqualify Wheatley and replace them with Washington.
"It's not something that really ever heard of but it's real life it's happening. We just have to go with the same mindset as every other game prepare to play the unknown, be ready for the unknown. Knowing that we have a different opponent we just have to go in minds right from the get go." said Wanya McIntyre, Bulldog freshman.
"We're just going to go out and play our style of soccer. It's not like were changing anything for any team we're playing. We make adjustments here and there for certain players, but we the same schemes same tactics. It's all the same we're just going to play and do what got us this far," said Coach Walker.
Having to trust in their preparation, whether it was for Wheatley or Washington, the Bulldogs have two important advantages. Experience and desire.
"We're out here it here to finish it. Three times is enough, we're out here to finish it," said McIntyre.