Vidor standout quarterback and linebacker Montana Quirante and West Orange-Stark standout linebacker Joe Lynch were named finalsts for the Willie Ray Smith Awards that was announced Wednesday at the Elegante Hotel.
As a matter of fact, Mr. Quirante was named as both a Offensive Finalist and a Defensive Finalist. Lynch is a Defensive Finalist.
Vidor coach Jeff Mathews has seen his share of excellent players stroll the Pirate program over the years and so have the Pirate faithful, but they could all arguably say that Mr. Quirante is the best overall player that has ever put on a Pirate jersey.
Quirante was the key force in leading the Pirates to back-to-back playoff trips.
As a senior this year, Quirante rushed for 1,783 yards and a stunning 33 touchdowns on just 193 carries.
He was just as effective on the defensive side of the leather, notching 147 tackles, seven sacks and three interceptions. When he wasn’t running it down opponents’ throats, he also passed for 344 yards and two scores.
To put Quirante in even better perspective, in the last two seasons, he’s rushed for 2,813 yards and 53 TDs on 342 carries, passed for 701 yards and three scores and has piled up 290 tackles.
A superb linebacker for three years for the Mustangs, Lynch, a senior, bounced back from a knee injury that he suffered as a junior in fine fashion.
Lynch was a key cog for a Mustang defense that allowed a mere 145.6 yards a game and just 80 total points in 14 weeks of action. He was also a part of school history, helping lead the Mustangs to a school-record nine shutouts.
He led the vaunted Chain Gang Defense, notching a team-high 152 tackles, 86 of them unassisted.
Lynch also had 16 tackles for losses, five sacks, two caused fumbles and a fumble recovery.
Quirante is joined as a Offensive Finalist by Port Arthur Memorial quarterback Ricky Fisk, Nederland running back Kendrick Hopkins, and East Chambers running back Glenn Roberts.
Fisk passed for 2,256 yards and 22 touchdowns and ran for 983 yards and 14 TDs in guiding the Titans’ offense.
Hopkins darted for 1,722 yards and 14 TDs for the District 20-4A champion Bulldogs while Roberts shredded opponents for 2,140 yards and 35 TDs on the ground for the Bucs.
Smith began his coaching career at Dunbar High School in Lufkin. After coaching for four years, Smith came to Orange where he led Wallace High School. Smith then had a long coaching stint at Beaumont Charlton-Pollard High School.
Joining Lynch and Quirante on defense will be Newton linebacker Corey Jenkins and Nederland linebacker Korbin Stampley.
Jenkins helped lead the Eagles to the Class 2A Division I state semifinals, posting 160 tackles, 28 of them for losses, including six sacks. Stampley, meanwhile, notched 158 tackles and six interceptions for the Bulldogs.
Smith captureda ton of victories in his career, accomplishing amazing feats with stern discipline. He took over ill-equipped programs and turned each one of them into consistent winners.
Smith’s sons, Tody and Bubba, who both starred in the National Football League, are among more than a dozen players he helped send on to pro football.
Here are the past Willie Ray Smith Award winners:
1993: Dexter Hebert, Kelly
1994: Jay McGuire, Silsbee
1995: Jeffery Spikes, Burkeville
1996: Elihah Burkins, Thomas Jefferson
1997: Bryan Bock, Bridge City
1998: Offense: Chip Ambres, West Brook; Defense: Charles Sias, WO-S
1999: Offense: Beaux Daville, Orangefield; Defense: Rod Gulley, Newton
2000: Offense: Dustin Long, PN-G; Defense: Gayron Allen, WO-S
2001: Offense: Sean Yoder, Nederland; Defense: Jermaine Hope, WO-S
2002: Offense: Tony Eckert, Lumberton; Defense: Ricky Wilson, Lincoln
2003: Offense: Matt Peebles, Bridge City; Defense: William Bryant, Jasper
2004: Offense: Jamaal Charles, P.A. Memorial; Defense: William Morrissey, Silsbee
2005: Offense: Jamaal Charles, P.A. Memorial; Defense: Brian West, Ozen
2006: Offense: Kenneth Beasley, WO-S; Defense: Sean Weatherspoon, Jasper
2007: Offense: Micah Mosley, Nederland; Defense: Earl Thomas, WO-S
2008: Offense: Cody Hussey, Lumberton; Defense: Tramain Thomas, East Chambers
2009: Offense: Christian Micheal, West Brook Defense: Kevin Robinson, WO-S
2010: Offense: Jeremy Johnson, Silsbee; Defense: Jacoby Hale, Central
2011: Offense: Fred Ford, Kirbyville; Defense: Colin Garrett, West Brook
2012: Offense: Terrence Singleton, P.A. Memorial; Defense: Corbin Carr, Nederland