After last Friday’s 21-7 victory over Calexico, Coachella Valley football player Noah Torres might best be known as the one who returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown to seal the victory in the final minutes.
But according to coaches and teammates, it isn’t one play that defines Torres.
They say he’s at the forefront of a dramatic change of culture at Coachella Valley, and that Friday’s performance further illustrated the dedication and effort they’ve seen from him dating back to his sophomore season, in 2012.
“He is a multi-facet type of individual,” head coach Scott Fisher said. “With Noah, I can put him anywhere and he’s going to give me everything that he has. That kid is a team leader. That kid steps up.”
Torres, at 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds, is one of the more undersized linebackers in the valley. Still, he’s made his presence felt early this season.
He has played a minimum of six different positions, and his leadership by example and his speed and versatility on the field are a few of the reasons the Arabs (3-1) have already matched their win total of the previous two seasons.
“He’s all heart out there,” junior quarterback Ricky Perez said of Torres. “It’s all about how much are you willing to give up to be great, and he shows that every day.”
So it was no surprise to those within the program that it was Torres who came up with the game-clinching play last Friday.
The Desert Sun spoke with Torres about that game and his role this season:
Break down the play that you made to secure the victory last Friday?
“Basically, the quarterback dropped back, the receiver ran an in-route and I just read him and cut and got the ball and took off.”
Once you had made the interception, what was your first instinct?
“To just take off, move as fast as I can.”
What did that feel like to know that you had made that play?
“It’s exciting. It was intense. I just tried to get into the end zone and was telling myself not to get tackled.”
What do you do to prepare to make plays before a game?
“It’s all mental. I go through plays and focus. Coach takes away our phones, so we can just get ready for the game.”
What did you do during the offseason to prepare yourself to make plays like that this year?
“Track and lift. I ran the 100 (meter), 200 (meter) and 4×4 (relay). It has helped me with explosiveness out of the blocks and to stay low. Lifting has helped me get stronger.”
Have you ever tried other sports to help you improve as a football player?
“I tried wrestling. But I lost too much weight, so I didn’t really want to finish with it.”
Your team is off to a 3-1 start. Do these non-league games matter?
“Of course our rivals do — D.M. (Desert Mirage) and Indio. But DVL is what really matters. This year we’re trying to go after some of the top DVL teams and try and hang up there with those guys.”
What are some goals you have for the rest of the season?
“Just to rack up yards, make plays on defense and make the playoffs. I think we can do it this year.”