ON SPORTS: Refugio QB ends record-setting career at state final
Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:18 a.m.
Bobcats ready for state title game to begin
Cisco in fifth state title game since 2003
REFUGIO - Raquel Flores followed the same ritual before her son left the house Wednesday morning that she has on game days during the past four years.
The difference was Flores knew she was doing it for the last time.
"I ask him, 'How do you feel today Travis?'" she said. "He always says, 'I feel good, Mom.'"
Travis Quintanilla boarded a charter bus with his Refugio teammates bound for Plano, where the Bobcats practiced for Thursday night's Class 2A, Division II state final against Cisco at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
"It's more than words can explain," Raquel Flores said. "From the time he started playing freshman, sophomore, junior up to now. They've been wonderful years having a son like that with so much talent."
Quintanilla will make his final start at quarterback, having led Refugio to a 41-2 record during his three seasons as a starter that included the 2011 state championship.
"We've come a long way since my freshman year," Quintanilla said. "It comes down to the last game of the season and the most important game of the year. I'm honored to be a part of this football program to actually be able to do things like this that other teams can't do. It's a wonderful feeling. Going to state for a second time in three years since I've been a starter is awesome."
Quintanilla has more than played his part. He has passed for 5,166 yards and 66 touchdowns this season to push his career totals to 13,832 yards and 184 touchdowns.
He has set state records for career passing yards, career touchdown passes, passing yards in a season, touchdown passes in a game, and is one touchdown pass away from tying the state record for touchdown passes in a season.
"It's been amazing to sit back and actually get a chance to coach him," said Refugio assistant Anthony Quintanilla, Travis' uncle and the reason his nephew wears No. 34. "I've got to see him rack up all these accomplishments. To watch him take over as a sophomore and lead us to a state championship and never bat an eye like it was nothing. He's stayed humble and basically done everything we've asked of him."
Refugio coach Jason Herring immediately recognized Travis Quintanilla's ability, but has been impressed with the work his quarterback has put in to improve.
"He's so much more mature and he understands the quarterback position so much more," Herring said. "He understands the offense. I just have to tell him one time. He reads all that is so much easier. As far as a mature quarterback, he was a four back then and he's a nine-plus right now."
Quintanilla never envisioned the success he's enjoyed, but was driven by his love for the game.
"My freshman year, I didn't think of myself as a quarterback breaking records," he said. "I knew I was going to play some football. I didn't know I was capable of doing all that. I just played football. That's what I really wanted to do."
Quintanilla's talent is obvious to those who have watched him from the days when he won the Punt, Pass & Kick competition.
But many haven't seen the hard work he's put in to get better.
"In the summers, I would work his butt off," Anthony Quintanilla said. "We'd come up here and we'd lift and we'd run. I'd make sure he was doing his part. I could see why he became the athlete he is because he bought in from the word go. He always said, 'I'll do whatever you ask me to do,' and he has stayed with it."
Travis Quintanilla's success on the field hasn't changed his playful personality or demeanor.
"If someone on the street met him, they'd have no idea that he was the star quarterback that beat records set by Graham Harrell and Lake Travis' Gilbert and all that," Herring said. "He's just a very unassuming kid. He's just a pup. He's still a pup. He'll always be the pup to us. He's just a grown-up pup."
Quintanilla's statistics haven't attracted the kind of attention from recruiters that would be expected.
He's received recent interest from Texas Tech, but as of yet no offer, which might stem from being listed at 5-foot-10, 185 pounds.
But Quintanilla is more concerned about leading the Bobcats to another state championship before taking off his Refugio jersey for the final time.
"There are so many memories I'm going to have," he said. "I guess the best one would be ending my career at the state championship game."
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361-580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at advosports.com