41ºF

Texas HS football team dedicates game to teen killed in fire

Noah Ortiz killed in fire that also claimed lives of 4 siblings

photo

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas – Some of the best high school football teams in the state are playing for their playoff lives this weekend, but one of those teams -- The Edna Cowboys -- took the field Saturday night with a much deeper motivation.

They dedicated Saturday night's game to the memory of one of their teammates killed this week in a horrific fire that also claimed the lives of four of his siblings.

In New Braunfels, the Edna High School football team played for much more than a spot in the 3A state semifinals. They were playing for sophomore linebacker Noah Ortiz.

"Some things that are going on are that we have a cross with his helmet and number on it over here, and then one of his best friends, I think, actually Cam is going to come out carrying the flag that's got his number on it, and we have helmet decals that are going to have his number on it," said coach Huey Chancellor.

The 15-year-old was killed Tuesday in a fire that also killed four of his younger brothers and sisters.

Jackson County officials said when firefighters arrived at the family's trailer home in Edna, about 90 miles southwest of Houston, it was fully engulfed in flames.

Firefighters tried rescuing the five children inside but the roof and the floor were collapsing and they were forced to retreat.

Noah's father, however, was able to break out a window, saving the children's mother and their youngest child, a 3-year-old boy. They were the only survivors.

In an emotional moment before the game, Noah's parents came onto the field and were presented with Noah's No. 50 jersey.

Edna's opponent, Ingram Moore, also presented his parents a check with money their community raised.

"He's one of those kids that when you go looking for the kind of kids you want to coach, he's one of those kinds of kids because he shows up and works hard, has a great attitude," said Chancellor. "I was really impressed. I always thought his family done a great job of raising him."

Noah's teammates played through their grief Saturday night.

"We met earlier today, and we all had our prayer and last thoughts and talks and our big deal was when we left town we were going to try to be on a normal schedule and try to do things as normal as possible," said Chancellor. "The best way we can honor Noah is by coming out and playing well."

Noah's teammates will get the opportunity to continue honoring his memory on the field. The Edna Cowboys won their playoff game Saturday night.

Meanwhile a GoFundMe account has been set up for Noah's family.

The cause of the deadly fire is still being investigated.