After teaming up to help Pine Tree complete its most successful season in 44 years, D.J. Freeman and Christian Webb now have a chance to continue their athletic and academic careers at one of the nation’s top Division III programs.

Freeman, a record-setting quarterback for the Pirates, and Webb, a top blocker who helped his QB pile up those numbers, signed national letters-of-intent to play football at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor on Thursday during a ceremony at The Pirate Center.

“It’s really hard to find the words to describe this,” Pine Tree head football coach Kerry Lane said. “They were in the eighth grade when I met them. To see how they’ve grown and matured and 100% bought in to the system is special. They’ve both been selfless players and great teammates. They’ve done everything asked of them, and it’s great to see them get to this point.”

Freeman, who owns nearly every quarterback record at Pine Tree now, will likely be a slot receiver and take some snaps in the “Wildcat” formation at the next level.

“All the hard work has paid off to get me here today, but there is more work to to do,” he said. “I’m glad I get to be somewhere with someone I know.”

Webb echoed those thoughts.

“My brother is coming with me,” the 6-3, 270-pound offensive tackle said. “They (UHMB) have a winning program, and I think we can help add to that success.”

Pine Tree piled up more than 10,000 yards the past two seasons with Freeman operating under center and Webb leading the way up front — finishing with 4,961 total yards in 2020 after cranking out 5,340 yards in 2019.

The Pirates were 9-2-1 this past season, the program’s first nine-win campaign since 1977. Pine Tree earned a 34-28 win over A&M-Consolidated in the first round of the playoffs, the team’s first postseason victory since 1976.

Freeman, a three-year starter, completed 94 of 180 passes for 1,895 yards, 21 touchdowns and four interceptions to go along with 119 carries for 918 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season as a senior.

He finished his career with 5,291 passing yards, 2,972 rushing yards and 93 career touchdowns (rushing and passing) — all records at Pine Tree. He also holds records for passing yards in a season, along with pass attempts and completions in a career and season, passing touchdowns in a season (21), passing touchdowns in a career (57) and rushing touchdowns in a career (36).

Webb is a three-year starter and three-year all-district performer and a key performer for an offensive line that paved the way for the Pirates to score 39.2 points per game in 2020.

Mary Hardin-Baylor, located in Belton, is a member of the American Southwest Conference’s East Division along with ETBU, Louisiana College, Belhaven and Southwestern.

The Crusaders finished 12-1 overall and 9-0 in conference play in 2019 and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division III playoffs.

UMHB has won 15 conference titles since 2002 — including a national championship in 2018 — and the Crusaders are 142-16 in conference play and 211-39 overall since 1998.

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Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports

Sports editor

I've covered sports in East Texas since 1987, starting as a 21-year-old sports editor at the Kilgore News Herald before spending seven years at the Lufkin Daily News and the past 23 years at the Longview News-Journal.