By Dave Wagner
Melrose’s Carlos Ruiz and Floyd’s Jerrod Long are known as two of the best six-man football players in the state.
Now they’ll be known as two of the best six-man players in the country.
Six-Man Illustrated, a publication dedicated to six-man football based out of Big Spring (Texas), named Ruiz and Long to the first team on its 11th annual All-American team.
Ruiz, named New Mexico’s offensive player of the year after leading the Buffaloes to the state title, was selected as the top deep back in the nation.
The lightning-fast Ruiz rushed for 2,849 yards and scored 56 touchdowns, including a national-record 13 touchdowns in the Buffaloes’ 100-55 win at Animas in the state semifinals.
“He’s the fastest kid in the state (on the football field),” Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said. “If you’ve got a kid with that kind of speed in six-man, that’s a big asset.”
“He’s definitely one of the top players in the nation, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Six-Man Illustrated publisher Tommy Wells said. “This guy’s definitely a no-brainer. You’ve got to pick this one.”
Melrose beat Long and district rival Floyd in the state title game. Both are juniors.
Long was the defensive player of the year in New Mexico in six-man and was named a first-team linebacker by Six-Man Illustrated.
“He’s the best six-man player I’ve coached,” Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie said, praising his tremendous quickness and dedication. “We left him back there all by himself. He backpedalled down the field and covered sideline to sideline.”
Long intercepted 31 passes the past two years, including 18 in 2004.
“Anytime you can play defense like Jerrod does, you’re going to get noticed,” Wells said.
Other New Mexicans on the team included Valley Christian linebacker Erik Marquez (first team) and safety Craig Villapando (honorable mention), while Animas quarterback Trevor Richin was named second-team quarterback.
Fide Davalos of Floyd in 2001 and Jeremy Black of Melrose in 1997 were the last players to make the list from the area, according to Wells.