02/05/04 — Quintanilla signs with Catawba

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Quintanilla signs with Catawba

By Gabe Whisnant
Published in Sports on February 5, 2004 2:00 PM

CALYPSO -- As a starter on four straight playoff teams and an eastern regional finalist as a senior, North Duplin linebacker Juan Quintanilla knows a lot about winning.

That should fit in well at Division II Catawba College as the two-time News-Argus Defensive Player of the Year has signed to play football for the Indians -- the defending South Atlantic Conference Championship and perennial playoff contender.

"Going to Catawba they've got tradition and that's what we've got here," Quintanilla said. "We win games and we are always on top with quality players."

The son of Omar and Olga Quintanilla, he has always been noted for his combination of field-knowledge, hard-hitting and versatility - the six-foot, 230-pound linebacker also pounded out yards as a fullback and punted.

"That's one of the many things that excites us about Juan. We feel like he can play linebacker or fullback," Catawba coach Chip Hester said. "He can be an impact player at both positions. He was a take as soon as you turn on the film."

Quintanilla averaged 10 tackles and five assists in his senior campaign and teamed with childhood friend Johnny Joe Gonzales to anchor a Rebel defense that held five opponents under 10 points on their way to the eastern finals. He's owned the "Iron Rebel" award, given to the school's best all-around weightlifter at North Duplin, since his freshman year.

He joins former Aycock all-purpose standout Thomas Presley on a Catawba team with a solid core of eastern-north Carolina bred talent. Former Rebels' player and coach Ken Avent, now coaching at North Johnston, holds the record for completion percentage in a season at the Salisbury school.

North Duplin coach John Avent has seen and been an important part to his development as a student athlete the past four years. He's confident that Quintanilla's success on and off the field will continue.

"It's real exciting and we are tickled for him to go on and play for one of the top Division II schools in the country," Avent said. "Anytime you can go to a winning situation, that says a lot for you.

"He's probably one of the strongest players I've ever seen or been around. He was a rare one, and I think a lot of people are going to realize that when he gets to college."

The winning situation at Catawba was clearly impressive to Quintanilla, but he was equally enamored by the geniune nature and work ethic of the program.

"The coaching staff is great, and it's amazing the hospitality they showed to me and my dad when we went out there," he said. "You've alredy got somebody who is winning, and you try to work your best to fit in there.

"They've got the best athletes, so I'll have to keep working harder."