Neelin Spartans standout Quinton Hunter (right) intercepts a pass — one of his nine last season — during a Winnipeg High School Football League clash with the Portage Trojans on Sept. 19. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Quinton Hunter is in the process of deciding whether he wants to play football or basketball at the post-secondary level, but according to the Top Prospects Canada Recruiting Blog, he may want to consider the gridiron.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Neelin Spartans standout has been rated the third-best high school football prospect in Manitoba and the ninth-best defensive back in the country. Hunter wasn’t expecting the recognition, but is proud of it.
"I was pretty surprised," Hunter said. "There’s a lot of pretty good players in Manitoba. I was happy. That’s such a big thing to accomplish."
Hunter had a solid senior season with the Spartans football team. One year after helping Neelin reach the Winnipeg High School Football League’s Andy Currie (A) Division final, the 17-year-old played both ways for the Spartans in the Kas Vidruk (AA) Division in 2013 as they posted a 4-4 record in the regular season. Their season came to an end in the quarter-finals when they fell 20-0 to the eventual division champion St. Paul’s Crusaders.
On defence, Hunter set a record for most interceptions in a season with nine and added 25.5 tackles and a sack while playing defensive back. On the offensive side of the ball, he rushed for 193 yards on 19 carries and caught 12 passes for 169 yards.
Hunter felt it was a great final season of high school football, and takes pride in the record and the fitness level required to play both ways, which a lot of his teammates did during the season.
"I think it was the people around me (that led to the interceptions)," he said. "I wouldn’t be able to do it if the corners on my team weren’t as good, if my D-line wasn’t pressuring the quarterback to sometimes throw that bad pass for me to get … We all knew what we had to do and with a lot of us being in our senior year, we had to put our bodies on the line and do what we could to win."
While he had a solid football season, Hunter has put that to the back of his mind. He’s currently focused on helping the Spartans varsity boys’ basketball team get as far as it can in the provincial AAA high school championships, which run Thursday to Saturday in Swan River. He also plans to be on Neelin’s track and field, badminton and baseball teams this spring, even though he doesn’t have a lot of experience on the diamond.
An accomplished multi-sport athlete, Hunter is also a big supporter of the school’s other teams, something that every Neelin athlete tries to do.
"It’s one great thing," he said. "We’re one big happy family. If you go to Neelin, you’re going to be taken into the family no matter who you are. I know we’re really known for sports, but if you’ve been in Neelin and played sports, you’d be there to support us, and that’s how we all get together. We’re all just one big happy family."
Although Hunter is enjoying his time at Neelin, he knows his time in high school is coming to an end and he has to make a decision about his future pretty soon. He has looked at playing football and basketball on either side of the border and said he has a few offers, but he’s still trying to reach a final decision.
"I’ve been looking at both. It’s a hard decision to make," he said.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 18, 2014