By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
FLOYD — With the future of senior Carlos Ruiz uncertain, the Melrose Buffaloes did nothing to take away from their certainty as favorites to repeat as state champions.
Brock Graham led an efficient offense by throwing for two touchdowns and rushing for another as Melrose pounded a shorthanded Floyd Bronco squad 48-0 Saturday afternoon at Floyd High School.
Melrose coach Dickie Roybal said the team will know more Tuesday about the condition of Ruiz, who has been sidelined since the discovery of a heart murmur. Roybal said Ruiz is healthy in all other respects, but it was unthinkable to even have him step out onto the field Saturday.
The Buffaloes, who were also without end Jose Arenivar (broken arm), did more than enough with the players they did have to improve their mark to 8-0 (3-0 district).
“We had to shuffle some players around,” Roybal said. “The kids we shuffled around, I think they did a very good job.”
The defending state champions have won 10-straight games and gone 18-1 over the last two years, with their only loss coming at Floyd during the 2004 regular season.
“You can tell they are (good),” Floyd coach Rafael Roybal said of the Buffaloes. “They’ve always been a good football team.”
They certainly were on Saturday, holding the host Broncos (3-5, 1-2) to 27 yards while racking up 271 yards in offense. Cedar Rush got the Buffaloes started 1:18 into the game with a 10-yard run, and got just enough to end the game via the 45-point mercy rule at the half.
Playing in Ruiz’ place, Adam Hargrove rushed for 69 yards and a 2-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.
“Our second-string running back did really well,” Dickie Roybal said. “Of course, (Floyd) had some kids injured. They weren’t as big and weren’t too hard to block.”
Floyd played without junior Jason Martinez, who missed his second-straight game with a knee sprain, and senior quarterback Kyle Kropf was knocked out early with a separated shoulder.
Senior Brad Lee rushed for 42 yards, passed for three and accounted for Floyd’s lone first down with a 27-yard run on the Broncos’ third possession.
Rafael Roybal wasn’t in the business of making excuses, but he felt it was an obvious obstacle being without two of his three top players.
“That’s experience right there (being without Kropf and Martinez),” he said. “You have a junior and a senior out, then you put in two freshmen who have never played.”
Graham broke a pair of tackles and eluded a pair of Floyd defenders near the goal line on a 47-yard scoring run late in the first quarter, then returned a punt 62 yards for another score early in the second quarter.
The Buffaloes closed out the Broncos with a 3-yard touchdown toss from Graham to James Tatum on a fourth-and-goal and a 38-yard toss to Lonnie Clark on a broken play as Graham recovered a fumbled snap.
Melrose hosts Clovis Christian to end the regular season, while Floyd travels to San Jon Saturday.
“Our biggest thing is to stay as healthy as we can this week,” Rafael Roybal said. “The (younger kids) played as hard as they could, and that’s a good sign.”