HARLINGEN — Noah Huerta recalls watching his older brother, Nathan Huerta, terrorize opposing offenses under the lights of Boggus Stadium for three years.
The elder Huerta, who played for the Cardinals from 2019-2021, left his mark on the historic program, racking up 26.5 sacks and earning an opportunity to play at the next level. He is on Texas State’s roster as a sophomore defensive lineman.
The younger Huerta is looking to leave his own mark now, earning a spot on the Cardinals’ varsity roster as a sophomore.
“It has been a dream come true wearing the Cardinal on my helmet,” Noah said. “When my brother was playing here, I always wanted to be like him and even better. I want to make a name for myself. I don’t want to be known as just Nathan’s little brother. I want to make a name for myself like Izaiah Bell. I want to be known as myself.
Huerta isn’t looking to do things like his brother did, instead suiting up on the opposite side of the ball at running back.
It has taken little time for Huerta to introduce himself to the RGV and begin making a name for himself, erupting for 139 yards and six touchdowns during a 49-21 victory over Mission Veterans on Friday at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission.
“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting a big game,” Huerta said. “I just expected to go in there and do my best. I saw people had them winning over us, so I wanted to go in there and prove those people wrong and show we’re the better team still. I just felt more comfortable and less nervous. I felt better running the ball and just everything.”
As if Huerta didn’t already have high expectations being the younger brother of Nathan, he also has been tasked with helping replace the recently graduated Bell, who racked up 1,779 total yards and 32 scores last season.
Huerta has slowly begun to fill the hole left by Bell, improving his output each week. He rushed for 37 yards during Week 1, followed by 91 yards and a score in Week 2 before a breakout effort Week 3.
His big day vaulted him into the top 10 in District 32-6A in rushing yards and points scored, ranking seventh (267) and second (42), respectively.
Huerta’s emergence also has helped the Cardinals find their footing offensively, averaging a District 32-6A leading 384.0 yards per contest.
“When I first came in, I was nervous,” Huerta said. “The O-line and everyone has had my back. I got to give props to them and my quarterback. They have helped me a lot. We’ve just been growing. We’re not last year’s team. We want to be better. We don’t want to be known as last year’s team. They were good, but we’re trying to be better and make our own name for ourselves.”
Huerta and the Cardinals’ offense look to continue growing when they take on Laredo United South at 7 p.m. Thursday at Gladiator Arena in Roma.
Weslaco High head coach Roy Stroman had high expectations for his defense coming into the 2023 campaign, with depth in the trenches and veterans in the secondary.
The group has not disappointed, allowing just 158.0 yards and 4.3 points against per game en route to a 3-0 start to the year.
Weslaco High’s dominance begins up front, with several names making plays for the Panthers. Seniors Daryn Hanks and Deven Martinez are key in stopping the run, eating up space in the interior and helping the Panthers allow just 69.0 yards against.
The Panthers’ pass defense has been just as stout, allowing only 89.0 yards against through the air. Seniors Noah Cazares and Devin Silva anchor Weslaco High’s secondary, both serving as starters last season.
The Panthers’ defense faces its next test at 7 p.m. Friday, taking on Sharyland High (2-1) at Richard Thompson Stadium in Mission.
It has been tough sledding for District 31-6A to start the season, with the district’s six teams going a combined 2-16 through the first three weeks of the season.
No team sits at or above .500 through the first three games, with only Edinburg North (1-2) and Mission High (1-2) securing a win thus far.
In comparison, District 32-6A has for teams sitting above .500, including a trio of undefeated teams in Harlingen High, San Benito and Weslaco High.
Defensive struggles could be credited for 31-6A’s slow start, with every team allowing more than 325 yards and 28 points per game.
The defensive struggles have led to the district’s teams being outscored by a combined score of 622-372.
The district’s teams will look to right the ship with just two games remaining in non-district play, with league competition set to begin Oct. 5.