RIO GRANDE CITY — The 2019 Rio Grande City Rattlers football team finished as one of the best the program has seen in a long time.

They ended a 34-year district title drought by finishing the regular season 9-1 and earning the crown of 16-5A DI co-champions in the process. The Rattlers also qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2013.

When head coach Leo Mireles took over the Rio Grande City football program last January, he knew the Rattlers would need all hands on deck in order to accomplish their goals of competing for a district championship and ultimately claiming a spot in the playoffs.

One of the last pieces to the puzzle that helped push the Rattlers over the top was receiver Aaron Marroquin.

The senior spent his first three years at Rio Grande City becoming a star on the basketball court for the Rattlers. His final year, however, he took his game onto the football field and immediately became one of the top receivers in the Rio Grande Valley, compiling 87 catches for 1,000 yards and 17 touchdown receptions.

After making a splash in 11 games for the Rattlers this season, Marroquin is The Monitor’s All-Area Football Newcomer of the Year.

“I knew bringing his leadership over here in football was going to help us out and he understands it’s a team effort,” Mireles said of the senior receiver during the season. “He helps us out on the offensive side of the ball. Everybody’s wanting to change the culture and be part of a winning program and doing everything we ask for.”

Marroquin’s impact was immediately on display as he debuted against Roma in Week 1 with 12 catches for 75 yards and three touchdowns.

“Those 12 catches don’t mean anything, at the end of the day. All that matters is the scoreboard. I could have one catch, I could have 15 catches, all that matters is the ‘W,’” he said after his performance against the rival Gladiators.

When on the basketball court, Marroquin is Rio Grande City’s “Mr. Everything” with triple-doubles to his name. In between the white lines, he became senior quarterback Mario Garza’s go-to-guy.

“I know he’s going to go get it wherever I put it. He’s a great receiver; it’s hard to guard him,” Garza said of Marroquin.

Coverage would often focus on Marroquin, which opened things up for the Rattlers’ other playmakers on the offensive side of the ball, like receiver Allan Garcia (37 catches, 714 yards, nine TDs) and running back Angel Galvan to bring in 52 receptions out of the backfield.

“If I have a good game, it was because of my quarterback. If my quarterback was having a good day, it’s because of our coaches — it’s all a cycle,” Marroquin said. “Our coach calls the right play, our quarterback runs it the right way and that’s when I’m able to have a good day.”

After playing a key role on Rio Grande City’s history making team in 2019, Marroquin has returned to his home on the hardwood where he’s now trying to lead the Rattlers basketball team to a second consecutive district title as an all-district player himself.

bramos@themonitor.com