Senior Carlos Ruiz rushed for more than 2,000 yards for the second consecutive season. (CNJ file photo)
When Dickie Roybal started coaching Carlos Ruiz in 7th grade, he was uncoachable — literally.
“When he first started playing, he didn’t speak a lick of English,” Roybal said. “So, that made it hard. But all he wanted was to be good at football.”
Well, he turned out to be pretty decent.
Ruiz was selected as the six-man offensive player of the year for the second season in a row.
Roybal said one attribute is the key to Ruiz’ success.
“Simply his speed,” he said. “That’s what allowed him to rack up 2,500 yards last year and another 2,000 this year even thought he missed some games.”
Ruiz missed two games this season due to a heart murmur, but returned to the Buffs for the playoffs.
Melrose, which lost in the six-man finals to Gateway Christian, landed two players (Ruiz and Brock Graham) on the all-state first team offense, and two (Ruiz and Tyler Tatum) on the first team defense.
“It’s a great honor for those kids,” Roybal said. “We always have a lot of kids on the second team and honorable mention, but I can’t remember having this many on the first team.”
Adam Hairgrove represents the Buffs on the second team offense and defense.
Roybal said he will miss seeing Ruiz, a senior, on the gridiron.
“He’s just a great athlete,” Roybal said. “He’s a great kid to coach, and I’m very lucky to be able to coach him. (Players like Ruiz) don’t come around very often.”
Gateway Christian’s Jevvon Hunter was named the defensive player of the year.