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MEET THE 2011 MVP: Sophomore quarterback leads Refugio to state title

MIKE FORMAN

By MIKE FORMAN
Dec. 25, 2011 at 6:25 a.m.

Refugio coach Jason Herring douses sophomore quarterback Travis Quintanilla with water after the Bobcats won a state championship in Arlington this year. Quintanilla, who threw for 53 TDs this season, is the 2011 all-area MVP.

REFUGIO - A state championship meant so much to Refugio quarterback Travis Quintanilla that he wasn't disappointed when the Bobcats came up 12 points short of the national scoring record.

Refugio wrapped up the Class 2A, Division II state title and a 15-0 season with a 36-35 win over Cisco at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

"It doesn't matter to me," Quintanilla said. "I love to score a lot. I'm pretty sure everyone does. At the end, we got the win."

Quintanilla helped lead Refugio to its first state title since 1982 by completing 20 of 25 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against Cisco.

Quintanilla was named the offensive player of the state championship game.

The award capped an impressive sophomore year in which he was selected as the player of the year on The Associated Press Sports Editors Class 2A all-state team.

Quintanilla completed 190 of 285 passes for 3,944 yards and 53 touchdowns with only six interceptions, and was selected as the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Victoria Advocate All-Area Football Team.

"I knew Travis was special when I saw him in seventh grade," said Refugio coach Jason Herring. "He was a man among kids slinging the ball, running the ball. I've never asked a kid at such a young age to come in and be the man. To be the man anywhere is hard. I'm telling you it is ruthless in Refugio."

Quintanilla made the varsity as a freshman and served as a backup to Aaron Perez. He threw for 782 yards and eight touchdowns.

"I was just watching Aaron to see how he did and seeing what I had to do for the following year," Quintanilla said. "It was just a matter of picking up the ball more often and hitting my spots. I know most of the plays we do. We did the same thing in seventh and eighth grade as the varsity. It just continued on."

Quintanilla wasn't guaranteed the starting job after Baylor commit Lynx Hawthorne, who played quarterback at Weimar last season, transferred to Refugio.

But Quintanilla won the job, allowing Hawthorne to move to wide receiver, where he became a deep threat for the Bobcats and Quintanilla's primary target.

"I opened it up and gave them all a shot and it was not even close," Herring said. "We had no position down at Dairy Queen and in the community that was as hotly contested as quarterback. I had no idea Travis would be able to handle all that part. I knew he was going to be a special talent and I knew he had everything I wanted in a quarterback."

Herring is extremely hard on quarterbacks, and he worked extensively with Quintanilla. But Herring takes no credit for the sophomore's skills, which the coach compares to St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford.

"Yea, we do drills. Yea, we do throw the football. We do all the work everybody else does," Herring said. "That stuff is way overrated. You either have it or you don't. Travis just has it. He's just a phenomenal athlete and he's got a release that I didn't teach, he just has it. It is so lightning fast. Travis can see it and just flick it as good as anybody I've ever seen at this level. For sure the best I've ever coached."

Quintanilla showed amazing poise for a sophomore. His father, Ray, and uncle, Gavino, played on Refugio's 1982 championship team and he started playing quarterback in the sixth grade.

"I just felt real confident about the team," Quintanilla said. "We were just playing out there and doing our thing the whole season. I was rarely nervous in the state game. It was just go out there and throw and catch."

Quintanilla's ability to throw the football helped Refugio win its first state championship in 29 years.

Quintanilla also continued his streak of winning every high school and junior high game he has started at quarterback.

"I fully believe in order to win the big one you've got to be a good running team and a good passing team," Herring said. "That was the difference this year. I knew he had all the tools.

"What I'm shocked about is I had no idea he would be able to handle the offense, the maturity, the butt chewing, the politics, all of that. It was beyond my wildest dreams that he would be able to throw for nearly 4,000 yards and 50-something touchdowns."

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