There was something about the way JeVahn Cruz moved. There was an expectation every time he touched the ball. It's like that when you're electric. It's like that when you accelerate like few can. It's like that when you can turn disaster into exultation.
That was JeVahn Cruz, the Half Hollow Hills West quarterback, who was a virtual highlight film every time he handled the ball.
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"He's Mr. Excitement and that's why we moved him to quarterback," Hills West coach Kyle Madden said. "We'd spread out the defense and let JeVahn do the rest. He put on a show this year."
"JeVahn is in a class by himself," Hills West linebacker Andrew Hodge said. "He's the reason why we called the offense 'The Fastest Show on Turf.' He was our leader."
And now Cruz joins an exclusive club. He was the co-winner of the 50th Hansen Award presented to Suffolk's top player last night at the Suffolk Football Coaches Association banquet held at the Hyatt Regency Long Island in Hauppauge.
"He could ignite the offense at any time," Madden said. "You can't prepare for him because he improvises so many plays. There's no choreography to his madness. It's just bust and run. And you need athletes to catch him in space and prevent the long runs."
And no one could stop the elusive Cruz. He rushed for 1,531 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. He completed 76 of 119 passes for 1,789 yards and 24 touchdowns.
Cruz's signature moment may have come in the Suffolk Division III final against Hauppauge. It was a moment of greatness. A shotgun snap from his own 19-yard line sailed over his head to the 1-yard line. As the defense bore down on him, Cruz picked up the fumble and looked at the defensive fury confronting him.
"I looked up and saw two guys coming hard," Cruz said. "So I split 'em."
Cruz ran through the would-be tacklers, slashed his way into open space and flashed through the secondary in another gear on his way to an 81-yard touchdown run. It was another example of how Cruz turned bad to good, and that was primarily a function of his speed. He finished with a school-record 303 yards rushing in a 29-0 win over Hauppauge.
"We were never in trouble at any spot on the field," Madden said. "JeVahn was capable of breaking a long run on any snap."
With Cruz, who accepted a football scholarship to Stony Brook University, it was almost like street ball. His lateral quickness, vision and agility set him apart from the competition. He was almost impossible to tackle in the open field.
"Teams that failed to contain him paid the price," said Hills West receiver Damarr Aultman, who had 15 touchdowns. "He ruined guys on defense."
Motivation is a grand thing. Cruz still talks about his cousin Marvin Toney, a former All-Long Island quarterback from North Babylon who slammed his three LIC rings on a kitchen table and challenged him to win one.
Said Toney: "Until you win one of these, you've done nothing."
Now, Cruz has done it all.