Averett's fallen family member

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Averett remembers Rick Quintanilla with an "RQ" decal.
Averett athletics photo 
Rick Quintanilla  
Peter Quintanilla

Rick Quintanilla (top) and Peter Quintanilla played on Averett's 2006 USAC championship team.

Rick and Peter Quintanilla didn’t choose to cut short their Averett football careers -- it was forced upon them.

The twin brothers -- one a linebacker, the other a defensive back -- arrived at the school in Danville, Va., in 2005 and played on the 2006 team that won a share of the USA South conference title. They were good students and had become well-liked both on the team and around campus. Together, they worked hard to achieve as much as they could both on and off the field.

“Every time you asked them to do something, it was amazing at how identical they were not just in features but in everything they did in their lives,” said Averett coach Mike Dunlevy.

Among friends and teammates, the Miami natives became integrated into a larger family in Virginia -- a family they had never forgotten about over the years. Many members of that family have been saddened after Rick, at age 23, died just two weeks ago from brain cancer.

As much as the disease pulled apart the plans Rick and Peter had for themselves, it also brought them closer together. And it was clear Rick touched the lives of those around him. More than 500 people turned out for his viewing in Miami.

Peter recalls his brother as selfless -- “everyone else came first before himself” -- and outgoing. The kind of person people easily connected with.

“He had that kind of effect on people,” said Peter, who had coached in recent years with his brother and their dad at their former high school, Barbara Goleman High.

In 2007, the week before the pair were to report to camp at Averett, Rick began feeling a severe headache. At the hospital, a CT scan revealed a brain tumor, and Rick had emergency surgery within days.

Peter wanted to be at his brother’s side, so neither returned to campus as students. But the Averett coaching staff and the brothers were determined not to lose contact.

The lasting connection is visible this season on the football field. Averett players’ helmets are adorned on the back with a decal featuring Rick’s initials, “RQ.”

When Rick first fell ill, Dunlevy flew to Miami and brought their jerseys to them. That season also featured helmet decals that honored the Quintanillas shared struggle. Cougars’ helmets had the numbers 38 and 26 on them, Rick’s and Peter’s jersey numbers, respectively.

Dunlevy said these efforts were “to let them know that we were still thinking about them.”

The brothers maintained a love for Averett. Despite enrolling closer to home at Florida International, they still helped out for Averett at recruiting fairs in the South Florida area. And through phone calls, emails and text messages, they kept the Cougar staff up to date on their lives. They even came up to Virginia to see some games.

“They’ve never forgotten about Averett,” Dunlevy said. “Even though they didn’t graduate from here because of the incident that happened, Averett’s always been important to them.”

Peter credits Averett’s staff for working so hard to remain connected to his family.

“Both coach Dunlevy and the coaching staff showed so much that they cared about my brother and I,” he said.

That extended to Rick’s final year. Back in February, Dunlevy brought the brothers another gift, this time an Averett helmet. Shortly thereafter, Rick’s health deteriorated. Doctors thought they had gotten all of the cancer the first time, but it ended up coming back, Dunlevy said.

Rick “always had a positive attitude, and he and his brother always fought well through it,” the coach said.

Peter said he’s been “overjoyed” of the unexpected gestures by the team to memorialize his family’s difficulties. He said it’s clear that Averett has become a family to him.

“Everybody loved them. All our players liked them,” Dunlevy said. “They were fighters.”

Peter said he misses his brother, but one could sense how proud he was of him, too.

“He was a great coach, a great brother, a great son, and a phenomenal player.”

The kick is up -- and it’s good!

Time expired on the clock as Peter Alston’s 40-yard kick sailed through the uprights and gave Washington and Lee a dramatic 17-14 win over Emory & Henry. Generals quarterback Charlie Westfal combined for 335 yards, splitting it 214 passing and 121 rushing. All but seven points in the contest came in the fourth quarter, including a monster play by each team: a 55-yard TD pass to Russell Steward for W&L; and a 61-yard scoring strike to E&H’s Adrian Jordan. The two squads combined for 976 total offensive yards.

CNU wins overtime battle

Shenandoah wasn’t able to shake the Christopher Newport monkey of its back, but the Hornets did push the game into overtime with 20 fourth-quarter points. However, they missed an opportunity to earn a win when a PAT with 17 seconds left in the game was missed. The Captains took over the game with a touchdown pass from Lyndon Garner to Kentel Noel that elevated CNU to the 27-20 victory. CNU’s Markeese Stovall poured on a large chunk of the game’s yardage running for 124 and a score. For SU, signal-caller Daniel Wright put up 254 yards while Hornets defender Brandon Martin had two interceptions.

Panthers rip off three wins in a row

Ferrum took the lead in the third quarter against one of the USA South front-runners, N.C. Wesleyan, and never looked back in a 21-10 victory that helps illustrate how well the Panthers have turned things around since starting the season with two lopsided losses. Marcus Mayo -- a player who has long threatened opponents as a passer, rusher and special teams player -- got Ferrum’s scoring started with a 78-punt return in the second quarter. Dontav Gilbert also found the end zone en route to averages 9.5 yards a carry on 11 attempts. Around the Mid-Atlantic touched on some of the new vigor of the Panthers in a column two weeks ago. For NCWC’s side, linebacker Tazmon Foster was a standout on defense with 17 total tackles -- 11 solo and a sack.

Rapid roundup

Hampden-Sydney was outgained against Bridgewater but pulled out the win thanks in large part to running back Kirke Rohle’s 134-yard performance and two touchdowns.

Greensboro lost against Averett, but it was Pride players who had some of the most outstanding individual performances of the day. Quarterback Ryan Throndset had 297 passing yards and three touchdowns, and defensively, linebacker Allen Stallings totaled a whopping 20 tackles, 12 of which were solo stops. Stallings set an all-time Greensboro career record.

Catholic and Randolph-Macon met Friday night in a scoring fest that saw the Yellow Jackets come out on top 51-34. Macon’s Zac Naccarto threw for 372 yards (212 of which went to Christian Cook) and four scores. The team also found a solid ground game thanks to the dual attack of Drake Sanders and Thaddeus Scrugg.

Maryville got win No. 1 for the season with 26-24 win over Methodist. Scots quarterback Tim Conner hit eight different receivers toward a 173-yard day.

Aren’t you forgetting something?

I’m not overlooking the Centennial. All of the conference’s teams were on their bye week.

Give me your best

This is the fifth season that I’ve written the Around the Mid-Atlantic column, and because of that, I want to hear about the best games you’ve seen in that time frame. Tell me about the game: describe the events, the atmosphere, the heroes of the day. Any season from 2007 through 2011 is fair game, and it can be regular season or playoffs, just as long as it involves at least one Mid-Atlantic region team.

I’ve got a couple that quickly come to mind, and I’m sure you do, too. In the year’s final column, I’ll publish as many of them as is reasonable. Email me!

Contact me

I would be happy to hear from anyone who has questions or feedback regarding the Around the Mid-Atlantic column or Division III football in general. Please write to me at ryan.tipps@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter @D3MidAtlantic. I invite you to talk about players and performances on the message board’s Around the Mid-Atlantic thread. Additionally, if there is an idea you’d like to see me write about, post it there or email me.