Sizing up Refugio QB Travis Quintanilla's chances of breaking the state's most prestigious passing records.
Refugio QB Travis Quintanilla is no stranger to the Texas high school football record book. Just a few months ago, the Bobcats’ junior quarterback stamped his place in Lone Star history by throwing a state record 10 touchdown passes in Refugio’s 80-0 thrashing of Taft, a performance that garnered both praise and ire.
It’s just one game in what has been a sensational high school career for Quintanilla, highlighted by guiding the Bobcats to the 2011 Class 2A Division II state championship, a game in which he earned Offensive MVP honors.
Quintanilla will take the field as a senior in the 2013 season chasing more than just another state championship. He’ll also be chasing some of the state’s most prestigious passing records.
Let’s take a look at Quintanilla’s career statistics heading into his senior season.
First of all: those are some remarkable numbers, no? Quintanilla is already fifth in state history with 118 career TD passes. But it’s his averages – 308 yards and 4 touchdowns per game last season – that are so remarkable.
And he’s getting better: every one of his major numbers is up, from his completion percentage to his yards per attempt. Yes, he threw quite a bit more interceptions last season, but consider that more of a regression to the mean as opposed to a trend.
But, as I mentioned, he’s within striking distance of a number of major records. Let’s take a look at the ones he’s within range for, and judge his chances of getting there.
Career Pass Attempts
Current Record: 1,577, by Baytown Lee’s Drew Tate, 1999-2002
One of the extraordinary things about Quintanilla is that even though he has as gaudy of numbers as you’ll find anywhere, he doesn’t actually throw the ball a whole lot. In the past two seasons – his two years as a full-time starter – he’s only averaged about 20 pass attempts per game. What makes his numbers so gargantuan are his incredible yards-per-attempt averages, gaining a whopping 14.3 yards per throw last season. Obviously, a lot of credit goes to his receivers and offensive lineman for that, but the fact remains: Quintanilla doesn’t throw much to get his numbers. At this point, he’s 938 attempts away from this record. Not only would that be a record for a single season, but if Refugio played the maximum 16 games, he’d have to average more than 58 pass attempts per game to get there. It’s not happening.
Chances of breaking record: 0%
Career Pass Completions
Current Record: 970, by Baytown Lee’s Drew Tate, 1999-2002
See above for all the reasons this one’s not going to happen. Quintanilla would need a state-record 534 completions to tie this mark. Even if he increased his already-exceptional completion percentage to an even 70%, he’d have to throw the ball 764 times to get there. Don’t worry, Drew Tate: you’re safe.
Chances of breaking record: 0%
Career Passing Touchdowns
Current Record: 167, by Ennis’ Graham Harrell, 2000-2003
Now we’re talking. Graham Harrell is one of the all-time greatest quarterbacks in Texas high school football history – he’s heading into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame with his father Sam later this year – and this record is his touchstone. His 167 career touchdown passes is a full 30 touchdowns ahead of the second-place record holder, Garret Gilbert of Lake Travis (we’ll get to him in a moment). And yet, Quintanilla doesn’t just have a shot at breaking the record; you’d have to think that he’s favored to do it. Quintanilla needs 49 touchdowns to tie and 50 touchdowns to break Harrell’s record; in his two seasons as starting quarterback, Quintanilla has averaged 55 touchdowns per season, and almost 4 touchdown passes per game. It’s by no means going to be easy – he has to stay healthy, and Refugio has to play at least two or three rounds deep into the playoffs to give him enough games to have a chance at the record at his current rate – but for now, one has to think there’s a better chance of Quintanilla breaking the record than not.
Chances of breaking record: 60%
Career Passing Yardage
Current Record: 12,534, by Lake Travis’ Garrett Gilbert, 2006-2008
If you’ve ever wondered why folks who cover football in Texas are so flabbergasted as to Garrett Gilbert’s struggles in college, this is why. Gilbert is the state’s all-time leading passer as far as yardage…and he only needed three years to do it. He turned in the two best passing seasons in state history in 2007 (4,827 yards) and 2008 (4,854 yards) and his sophomore season in 2006 (2,853 yards) ain’t too shabby, either. But if there’s one record that Travis Quintanilla looks like he’ll be owning at season’s end, it’s this one. Quintanilla needs just 3,845 yards to grab the record, and while that seems like a lot (it is!), consider that that would represent his worst yardage total of his career. In his two years as starter, Refugio’s superstar has averaged a little over 284 yards per game. If he were to simply repeat that average for his senior year, the Bobcats would only need to reach the state quarterfinals or state semifinals to break the record. Again, this is far from a guarantee. Quintanilla has to stay healthy – always unpredictable – and the Bobcats have to be as good as they’ve been in the past two seasons. But right now, Garrett Gilbert’s incredible mark looks like it’s in serious jeopardy.
Chances of breaking the record: 75%
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.