Texas QB sets high school passing record amid coach’s controversy

Ben Rohrbach
Refugio (Texas) senior QB Travis Quintinilla set the state record for career touchdown passes -- NFHS.org
Refugio (Texas) senior QB Travis Quintinilla set the state record for career touchdown passes -- NFHS.org

You won't find Refugio High (Refugio) senior quarterback Travis Quintanilla anywhere in anybody's recruiting rankings, and yet this past weekend he became the Lone Star State's all-time prep career leader in passing touchdowns (h/t MaxPreps).

And, in case you haven't heard, high school football in Texas is a pretty big deal.

Yet, the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Quintinilla may go down as the most prolific passer in state history, especially if he breaks the career passing yards record this coming weekend.

His three touchdown passes in a 42-13 Class 2A, Division II area playoff victory against Danbury High (Danbury) brought his career total to 168, surpassing record-setting former Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell, who threw 167 at Class 4A Ennis High (Ennis) from 2000-03.

"He has done a great job of making it about the team," Refugio coach Jason Herring told the Victoria Advocate. "He's handled this better than anybody else. I've insisted that it be about the team. He handled it like a stud, and he deserved it because of that."

Entering a Class 2A regional round showdown against Rogers this coming weekend, Quintinilla trails current Southern Methodist University QB Garrett Gilbert by just 215 yards for the state's career passing yards record, according to the Advocate. Gilbert surpassed Harrell in 2008, when the former Lake Travis star concluded his senior season with 12,537 career yards and a second consecutive Class 4A state title.

But Quintinilla's records do not come without controversy. In 2011, ESPN's Outside the Lines profiled Herring, describing the Refugio coach as "arguably the most hated coach in Texas high school football" because of the lopsided nature of his team's victories. Other media outlets have offered nicknames like "Mr. Satan" and "Halftime Hitler."

676 points in 12 games (56.3 points per game). Average margin of victory? 45.1 points.
Opponents winning percentage: .489

And when Quintanilla threw a state-record 10 TD passes in an 80-0 win last season, including three in the fourth quarter of a game well in hand, the nearby Austin American-Statesman headline read, "Refugio quarterback's state passing record leaves a bad taste."

One thing nobody can argue with is Refugio's success with Quintinilla at the helm. In his previous three seasons, he led the Bobcats to a 40-2 record, the state championship in 2011, a state semifinals appearance in 2010 and a state quarterfinals berth last year.

Refugio has just one blemish on its 12-game schedule thus far this season, a 45-39 loss to Lago Vista in which Quintinilla completed 22-of-33 attempts for 336 yards and a respectable three touchdowns. He has thrown for 3,541 yards and 50 touchdowns against just two interceptions on 182-of-256 attempts (71.1 percent). Impressive.

Still, Quintanilla has throw for only six TDs in games decided by fewer than two scores. Those other 44 touchdown passes came in games decided by an average of 55.7 points, facing a schedule of opponents with a sub-.500 winning percentage.

And then there's this quote from Quintanilla to the Advocate: "[Coach Herring] told me just to trust him and the records would come and they did come. I've been waiting all stinking year for this record, and finally, it's here. I've got the yards one coming, but I'm not really worried about that. There was a lot of stuff on my back. Now that it's here, I just want to go back to Dallas Cowboys Stadium."

Compare that to Gilbert's approach in 2008, described by Lake Travis coach Chad Morris upon his QB setting the record by 2 yards in the title game: "On the sidelines, I told him he was 34 yards away from the record. I said we're going to get the record. He said, 'Coach, I don't care.' I said, 'I do. I care. We're going to get it.' And we got it."

However, as it does for his Refugio Bobcats, Quintanilla's record speak for itself.

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Ben Rohrbach is a contributor for Prep Rally on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at preprallyblog@yahoo.com or follow Prep Rally on Twitter!