orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

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February 20, 2013

A first: Vidor’s Quirante sweeps Smith Awards

BEAUMONT —

Fans of Vidor High School football have grown accustomed to Montana Quirante’s wide smile and great leadership qualities.

Well, after Wednesday night, he probably can now get a patent for the grin he was wearing.

Quirante became not only the first Vidor player to ever win a Willie Ray Smith Sr. Award, he also became the first player in the 21-year history of the Smith Awards to capture both the Offensive and Defensive Awards at the banquet that honors to best players in Southeast Texas at the Elegante Hotel.

It was fitting for the best two-way player in the area to win the “Southeast Texas Heisman.”

“It’s such a wonderful feeling to receive this honor,” said Quirante. “I’m still shocked that I won both because there were some excellent football players here tonight.”

Quirante did it all for the Pirates and head coach Jeff Mathews at quarterback and linebacker the last two seasons.

Quirante was the key figure in leading the Pirates to back-to-back playoff trips. Vidor posted a 19-5 overall record, playing four games in the postseason in the process.

As a senior last season, 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 three 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.

“Wow, unbelievable, this is unprecedented,” said Mathews. “Vidor has never won a Smith Award and for Montana to get both, that’s as awesome as it can get. I don’t really feel like his coach, I feel like part of his family and I will always feel that way. Never, have I been around a kid that was such a fierce competitor. He never wanted to leave the field and he very seldom did. His most valuable asset though, wasn’t his talent, it was the way he carried himself on and off the field. He’s a tremendous leader.”

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