By EDWARD SEVERN. Special to RGVSports.com
HARLINGEN — The Harlingen High Cardinals took care of business 38-14 against a solid Laredo United Longhorns team Friday night at Boggus Stadium.
Despite their 0-3 record, the Longhorns are traditionally one of the better teams in Region IV and, despite losing every game in a loaded non-district schedule, they will compete to win their district and make the playoffs.
It was Harlingen High’s day, though, and the Cardinals (2-1) got started early. A three-and-out for the Cards’ defense set the tone for the offense, which marched down the field with ease. Junior receiver Paul Price weaved his way into the end zone from 8 yards out after receiving a bubble pass.
Harlingen High turned the ball over on its next possession. Longhorns senior Ruben Lopez’s interception ended another good Cardinals drive. The Longhorns’ defense had plenty of takeaways but could not capitalize.
The Cardinals ran the ball well all night, and the receivers stepped up as well. Aiden Sandoval, Isiah Perales and Price all had good catches on the night. A big play by Sandoval helped set up Iziah Bell for a short touchdown run, putting the Cardinals up 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Defensively, the Cardinals dominated the line of scrimmage, led by senior Nathan Huerta. The senior had 3 ½ sacks on the night. Christian Luna, Remi Memik and Pedro Silguero also chipped in on the defensive line. Linebacker Nathan Rodriguez also added leadership and had a nose for the ball.
“(Huerta) puts in a lot of work, and that is what happens. We do not rely on hype, we rely on preparation, and that is what you see, that kid goes out there and competes because of how he prepares,” coach Manny Gomez said.
An interception by Cardinals defensive back Ray Castillo set up the Cardinals with decent field position. On the next play, Sandoval burned his defender on a big touchdown reception to put the Cardinals up 21.
“We did really great and came back from last week, and showed what Cardinals football is all about,” Huerta said of his teammates. “They are all dogs, I love them. Every single one of us work hard every day before and after school to dominate like that.”
A Huerta sack on fourth down gave the Cardinals the ball back, but sophomore safety Derrick Gonzales took it right back for the Longhorns with an interception. Harlingen High and Laredo United traded turnovers on their next drives.
Harlingen High had a chance to gain a massive hold on the game before halftime, but receiver Ian Solis fumbled the ball in the back of the end zone after a nice run after a catch. Solis was great with the ball after the catch on the night, but the Cards led 21-0 at the half.
Harlingen High received the ball during the second half and went right back to work. Bell, Solis and Sandoval were instrumental on the drive, and Sandoval made an easy 6-yard catch in the back of the end zone on a pass from sophomore quarterback Abel Tamez.
Laredo United finally took advantage of a turnover during the third quarter to cut the lead to 21, but on the next drive for Harlingen High, Bell sprang free for a 70-yard touchdown, ending most of the hope the Longhorns had.
“It feels great always, getting back on track with a win,” Gomez said. “It has been a long two weeks, and I am super excited about these kids.
“We had a young quarterback in there getting experience, so turnovers happen,” he added. “That is why you have tough opponents in non-district, to prepare you and make you go through that adversity.”
A field goal for Joseph Garza was followed by an Axel Chavez touchdown run for Laredo United late in the fourth quarter to finish the scoring at 38-14.
Harlingen High will have a bye next week. They return to action Sept. 24 against Brownsville Rivera for their first District 32-6A game of the season.