Quitman’s best recent season ends in loss to district champs

By Larry Tucker
Posted 11/11/21

Quitman fell to district champ West Rusk 49-7 Friday night to end the most successful Bulldog football season in a decade. The Raiders proved deserving of their undefeated season at 10-0 and their lofty top five ranking in the state. 

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Quitman’s best recent season ends in loss to district champs


Quitman fell to district champ West Rusk 49-7 Friday night to end the most successful Bulldog football season in a decade. The Raiders proved deserving of their undefeated season at 10-0 and their lofty top five ranking in the state. 

The Bulldogs, still plagued by injuries to six starters, battled with the bigger and more plentiful Raiders. The Bulldogs ended the season with a 4-6 record, which included a district win for the first time since an Oct. 11, 2013, 21-0 win over Eustace. 

Quitman’s 36-30 double overtime win against Winona ended not only a decade-long drought of winning a homecoming game, but buried the district game eight-year losing streak. The overall positives of Coach Shane Webber’s first season far outweigh the negatives. Key injuries to skill players when the Bulldogs were sitting at 4-2 cost them dearly. 

Webber, his staff and players never complained or used injuries as an excuse. They continued to prepare and play with intensity. All the losing streaks are gone, and Webber and his staff can build on the positives going into the 2022 season.

Friday night, West Rusk scored on all six first half possessions to take a commanding 42-0 lead. The Bulldogs had a hard time moving against the wall of massive defensive linemen for the Raiders, including a 340-pound nose tackle. Give the Bulldog offense credit, led by sophomore Kamron Crockett, for taking the challenge head-on. 

Raider quarterback Anton Mata was near perfect, completing 9-11 passes for 210 yards and three scores. Three receivers scored for the Raiders. The Raiders scored another touchdown in the final quarter.

Quitman got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter on a four-yard run by Crockett. Wyatt Hightower carried the load running the ball for Quitman. The hard-running senior played every down as if it were his last, clawing his way for every yard.  

“We are heading the right direction, but we want to be on the top tier of teams in our district,” Webber said. “We want to be like a West Rusk or a Harmony. We did as good as we could Friday night. I hate to use the term ‘what could have been’ but looking at the situation and we have wondered how it would have turned out had we been healthy the entire season. Our goal is to be a West Rusk in the future. They are just one of those higher echelon teams that everybody strives to be like. We want to hit that mark and be consistent every season.”

Carson Dickens and Mikey Pickering also ran the ball hard and tough. Crockett, Dickens and Pickering gave a glimpse of the future gaining valuable experience in the last part of the season. Basketball star junior Thomas Sebedra showed he can also play football on offense as a receiver/running back as well as in the defensive backfield. Justin Matthews had an outstanding year on the offensive line but made his mark as a rugged defender being fearless of any opponent.

Senior Ethan Reynolds might not be the biggest player on the field but proved to be one of the toughest, and another senior, Hayden Batchelder, should be in line for all-district honors with his offensive play. Leading rusher Mason Reynolds had a banner year despite not having played since he was a freshman and suffering a season-ending injury at Troup. Ford Tannebaum proved he could run the ball club with his play on offense and defense. The Tannebaums, Ford and Jack, each had outstanding performances throughout the season. Ford was sidelined after suffering a shoulder injury in the win over Winona. 

The six Bulldog seniors: Ford Tannebaum, Jack Tannebaum, Mason Reynolds, Alex Burman, Hayden Batchelder and Ethan Reynolds, can be proud of being a part of the team that turned things around for the football program expectations at Quitman. Webber and his staff must also be recognized for the fine job they have done. The road back from those lean years has been tough, but all the signs are there for a program on the way back to respectability and winning. 

“I was pleased this year with our senior leadership and I told them the other night they definitely laid the foundation for years to come,” he said. “We had to have a starting point and appreciate all of the seniors who came through for us this year.”

After Quitman received the opening kick-off, Reynolds and Ford Tannebaum were suited up and went on the field. Webber had them in uniform and honored the two spark plugs by letting them get on the field one last time. The Bulldogs called time-out and the two gridiron warriors came off the field for the last time.

“They deserved to get on the field one last time, but I was impressed by what Coach Nick Harrison from West Rusk did. He is a nice guy and his kids play tough,” Webber commented. “He immediately called time out so we would both have an even number of time-outs left. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. He wanted to have an even playing field so he used a time-out to keep things even at the beginning. That was a class act.”

The Bulldog line has a group to build on in juniors Justin Matthews, Cason Johnson, Garin Kisinger, Johnata Jones, Jermiah Lipscomb and Ricardo Rubio, as well as sophomores Austin Jones, Darryl Harris and Michael Hipp, along with quarterback Crockett and running backs Mikey Pickering and Carson Dickens.

“We are not quite where we want to be, but we are going to get there,” Webber claimed. “If we didn’t have that four game losing streak it would have been a different story. I am proud of what we accomplished, but we are ready to take another step.”

The Bulldogs end the year at 4-6. West Rusk ends the regular season at 10-0 as they head to the playoffs. For Bulldog fans it has been a year of excitement and hope for the future.