BY CLAIRE CRUZ |
HARLINGEN — From outside Boggus Stadium, one never would’ve guessed the celebration inside was coming after a team finished its season at 2-8.
The small but faithful Harlingen South crowd was loud and proud after their Hawks defeated Brownsville Rivera 31-6 to close out a tough season on a high note.
“You play hard for your school and you play hard for your community,” Hawks head coach Brian Ricci said. “Our kids have character. They’re going to come out and play hard every night whether they’re 0-10 or 10-0. The group that’s here tonight stuck it out through the good and the bad so I’m happy for them.”
Running backs Corban Hendrick and Jaime Belmontes helped pace the Hawks in the first half. Midway through the opening quarter, Hendrick notched a 31-yard punt return that later resulted in his first score on a 5-yard run. The sophomore found the end zone again in the waning minutes of the second quarter on a strong 31-yard rush.
Belmontes used his speed and followed the protection of the sturdy Hawks offensive line to record two of his own rushing touchdowns between Hendrick’s. He broke free for scores of 86 and 57 yards and was instrumental in extending drives.
Sophomore quarterback David Torres turned in a solid game for the Hawks before being pulled late in the third quarter. He delivered strikes to his receivers and looked poised in the pocket, making good decisions on reads and scrambling well enough to avoid Rivera’s pressure.
“David got better every game at quarterback. Corban and Jaime, it seemed like every week they got better and better. We’re excited about it,” Ricci said.
Harlingen South extended its lead on a 41-yard field goal by junior Carlos Guajardo to start the fourth quarter. Junior running back Sebastian Garrett was a workhorse in the second half, rushing for 62 yards and helping to set up the field goal.
The Raiders leaned heavily on senior quarterback Nicholas Blanco, who led the offense with 73 rushing yards and 100 yards through the air. He scored Rivera’s only touchdown on a 1-yard dive to cap off a tough battle in the trenches, but the ensuing point-after was blocked. The Raiders ended their season at 1-9 after failing to earn a victory following the season opener.
Though Harlingen South’s season didn’t go as planned, Friday’s victory was a step in the right direction and gives the Hawks hope heading into 2018.
“We’re going to lose some really good seniors, but we do have a lot of younger kids that got a lot of experience this year so we’re looking forward to that,” Ricci said. “We’re excited about offseason and next year hopefully we turn things around.”