Rudy: The Sequel; Cross’senior season plays out like movie
Movie fans in Truckee no longer have to worry about when that sequel to the movie “Rudy” is due to open. It’s being played out in front of them every Saturday this fall whenever Tahoe-Truckee High School running back Rudy Cross takes the field.
Like the hero in the original “Rudy” film, Truckee’s Rudy is a undersized overachiever who refuses to quit in the game of football. Through six games for the Wolverines, Rudy has run for 802 yards and 14 touchdowns despite being only 5’6″ and weighing 145 pounds.
“Rudy is a scrappy player who’s gotten a lot of athleticism out of his potential,” said Wolverine head coach Bob Shaffer. “In the future when we talk to players, I’m sure we’ll use him as the example of a player who may have lacked size but who never quit.”
Rudy is actually Cross’ nickname (his given name is Andrew), but because of small size and tough work ethic, he was tagged with the nickname “Rudy” by his teammates in 1993 – the same year the movie Rudy was released.
“In eighth grade, I was the smallest player to go out for Truckee junior varsity football spring practices – I was about 5’2″ and 110 pounds,” Rudy said. “(Former Wolverine player) Sal Alcaraz named me ‘Rudy’ because I was small but worked hard in practice. Then the coaches saw the resemblance and they picked up on it; I haven’t been able to drop it since.”
“Nowadays, most people don’t know who Andrew is,” Rudy said.
Rudy said he doesn’t mind at all when his teammates and the crowd chant “Rudy, Rudy” each time he touches the ball.
“I get the feeling they’re showing they respect me and know I’m giving it my best when I get in there,” Rudy said. “I don’t think anyone has ever said it to be mean – it’s more a compliment saying ‘I like the way you run.'”
Rudy said his small stature is no problem on the field – in fact, he believes it may be an asset.
“The advantage is to me because the opposition tends to underestimate me,” Rudy said. “I’ve always been aggressive and not afraid to hit anyone.”
Rudy said he and fellow running back Kevin Kikawa easily dealt with the pressure that came with replacing 1996 starters Alcaraz and Jesse Richardson, who combined for more than 2,000 yards on the ground last season.
“I think we’ve filled their shoes,” Rudy said. “In fact, Kevin and I may have better teamwork. We trust each other; I know he’ll do his best to block for me and he knows I’ll do my best to block for him.”
In fact, Rudy said this year’s team might be able to beat last year’s state title team in a theoretical match up.
“There’s a good chance we could wear our old (1996) team down,” Rudy said. “Our defense would carry us; it’s been the bright spot on the team the whole season.”
While he admits he has “a little natural talent,” Rudy is quick to mention his offensive line as the main reason for his success. He personally thanked Dan Curtis, Jeff McCarthy, David Wells, Santiago Mendoza, Ty Lewis and Mike Detwiler for their help in the trenches this fall.
In the stands during the games, Rudy gets plenty of support from his father, Breeze Cross, the former mayor of Truckee.
“He’s probably my biggest fan,” Rudy said. “He loves watching the games.”
Although he realizes there’s no future for a 5’6″ running back in college football, Rudy, who plans to study business or engineering in the future, doesn’t dwell on the fact that this will probably be his final season of organized football.
“No college has given me a look, of course, but I’m not going to worry about it,” Rudy said. “I wouldn’t have given up football for anything.”
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