Falcons ride Ruiz to victory

SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Zac Wilkerson said he has the easy job.

"I don't even have to make the perfect pass," joked the Crescenta Valley High quarterback.

That's because he has an ultra-talented senior receiver in Nick Ruiz.

Ruiz used his athleticism and speed to get behind the Hoover defense and have his way in Friday's Pacific League opener at Moyse Field.

He caught seven passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns — all in the first half — to lead the Falcons to a 35-0 victory against the Tornadoes.

"I know Nick is one of the guys who'll get the ball," said Wilkerson, who was 12 of 17 for 219 yards and threw four touchdowns, with the other score going to Max Cunning on a 20-yard strike in the second quarter.

"He makes my job easier."

Falcon Coach Paul Schilling said Wilkerson and Ruiz have played enough games together to become comfortable in the passing game.

"We had 60 passing league games this past summer," said Schilling, whose team improved to 3-1. "They're comfortable with one another.

"Nick has great hands. He's as good as we've had. I compare him to [CV] wide receivers Mike Bako and Nigel Orozco [All-Area selections in 2009 and 2003, respectively]."

Ruiz's first score showed off his leaping and athletic abilities.

In a scoreless game, Wilkerson threw a ball to corner of the end zone and Ruiz had to leap to catch it. While falling out of bounds, Ruiz tapped his foot inbounds to secure the touchdown and an early Falcon lead.

He scored on a near identical play in the second quarter, jumping over a defender and staying inbounds to give the Falcons a 21-0 lead. In between his two scores, William Wang had a 21-yard rushing touchdown.

"We kind of had to pick our poison," said Hoover Coach Andrew Policky, whose team dropped to 0-4. "We had to either sell out and stop the run or take our chances on the outside. We took our chances on the outside and they made more plays than we did."

The Falcons, who scored all of their points in the first half, had 371 yards of total offense, averaging 7.6 yards per play. Hoover had 86 yards of total offense in 40 plays.

"Offensively, we had some communication problems," said Policky, who received 61 rushing yards from Luke Tabayoyong. "We couldn't move the ball."

Immediately after the game, the Falcons shifted their focus to their next four contests, starting with league rival and nemesis Muir visiting CV on Friday at Moyse Field. After Muir, the Falcons will play at Pasadena Oct. 14 and Burroughs Oct. 20 before hosting Burbank on Oct. 27.

The four-game stretch will determine the Falcons' playoff fate.

"Our main focus is to get into a rhythm," Ruiz said. "We definitely have the capabilities [of reaching the playoffs]."

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