ROSENBERG, Texas – When the Edna Cowboys are on the field, it seems like a typical football game.
It even sounds like one, too.
But, take if you take a closer look on one of the sidelines between the benches and Gatorade coolers, you’ll find a cross.
A cross, with the number 50 on it.
In the stands, the 5 and 0 are prominently displayed too.
You see, for the town of Edna and their Cowboys, it’s no longer just about winning, even though that’s the best way to cope with unspeakable loss.
“I don’t know how we did it,” Edna head coach Huey Chancellor said.
EDNA’S DEFENSIVE PLAYMAKER
Noah Ortiz, 15, had a passion for the game.
“He was a good football player, a good football player,” teammate Chris Palacios said. “He gave all he got and he played with heart.”
“He was just a courageous young man, the kind of kid you love to coach,” Chancellor said. “You wish they all were like that.”
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Ortiz helped guide the Cowboys to the playoffs this season. It’s the best team this town of 55-hundred has seen 1991. With a Round 3 game against Ingram Moore out of the San Antonio area fast approaching, Ortiz and his teammates were focused on one thing.
“We talked about how we were going to prove people wrong,” Palacios said.
TRAGEDY STRIKES A COMMUNITY
“I got a phone call that morning, I was up getting ready for school,” Chancellor said.
On the morning of Nov. 25, a fire broke out at Noah’s home. By the time emergency responders arrived on the scene the house was engulfed in flames.
Two of Noah’s brothers, Julian and Nicholas along with two of his sisters is 2 sisters, Ariana and Liliana, never made it out.
Neither did Noah, who lost his life going back into the home, trying to save them.
“My dad walked in told me the news and I broke down. I couldn’t….I cried,” Palacios said. “I just seen him yesterday, I just heard him yesterday, then my dad telling me he was gone. It…it was hard.”
The tragedy left Edna stunned. It left a football team asking “why” and wondering “how” they would be able take the field just three days later in the biggest game of their lives.
“I said guys, I think what we need to go do now is…I think Noah would be proud of us, the way we honor him is to go out and play good football,” Chancellor said.
Wearing altered helmets that now don Noah’s #50 and with Noah’s parents in attendance, the Cowboys took the field, the first defensive series being the hardest part.
“Noah was a starting tackle and when they called for the first defense. It wasn’t the same,” Palacios said. “It just wasn’t the same not seeing Noah on the field.”
But even with heavy hearts, Edna immediately grabbed control of the game. The ball, bouncing in their favor most of the night.
In the 4th quarter, the Cowboys drove the field and got into the end zone for one final touchdown, making the score 50-28.
“We looked at the scoreboard and we saw the 5-0…we remembered Noah,” Palacios said.
The extra point team ran onto the field, but this time, they had special instructions.
“One of my assistant coaches said, if we don’t make the extra point…it will be 50. If we don’t make it, it will be 50,” Chancellor said. “I got the attention of our holder to just fall on the ball.”
“We scored those 50 points for him,” Palacios said.
An unforgettable victory, that goes beyond the scoreboard.
“It’s just been a time that in a sense has brought our team closer together,” Chancellor said.
And that has united a town, because of #50, who will never be forgotten.