CARY – Cary-Grove sophomore Trevor Ruhland remembers quite well a game two years ago in which he and Michael Gomez were on the same football field.
Ruhland was playing for the Junior Wolves, a feeder program for Prairie Ridge, while Gomez was with C-G’s Junior Trojans.
“They beat us like 54-0,” said Ruhland, who at that time figured the two would not be high school teammates.
However, District 155 redrew a boundary line a few months later that routed Ruhland to C-G. The two sophomores hold down one side of the Trojans’ offensive line and have been devastating to opposing defenses.
C-G (13-0) will rely heavily on its two biggest linemen again today at 1 p.m. when it faces Crete-Monee (13-0) in the IHSA Class 6A state championship game at the University of Illinois’ Memorial Stadium.
Ruhland (6-foot-4, 270 pounds) lines up at tight tackle; Gomez (5-11, 273) is next to Ruhland at tight guard. C-G flip-flops its linemen depending on what it wants to do each play. The Trojans average 37 points and more than 400 yards a game with their triple option attack.
“I’ve been thoroughly impressed the whole season,” quarterback Quinn Baker said. “When we’re watching film and I’m not watching myself, I’m watching those two just run people down the field and toss them around. They’re sophomores, but they’re mature with their bodies.”
Gomez, who squats a team-high 505 pounds, started last year. He injured his left ankle in Week 4 at Hampshire, but returned in time for the playoffs.
Ruhland played with the sophomore team last year, then moved up to varsity this season.
“Michael’s a pleasure to watch on film because he finishes every play,” Trojans coach Brad Seaburg said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’m grading the backs and I see Michael out of the corner of my eye just pancaking a guy. And doing it over and over and over again. That’s what makes him very special.”
Seaburg says Gomez might not fit the NCAA Division I mold because of his height, but he thinks eventually Gomez could reach that level as a defensive player.
“It’s really humbling for us being sophomores,” Gomez said. “I remember when I found out Trevor was coming to Cary and it felt awesome. The work we’ve put in together trying to be the best linemen that we can be, that’s what I appreciate with me and Trevor.”
Gomez blows his teammates away in the weightroom.
“Have you seen his calves?” Ruhland said. “They’re huge.”
Everything about Ruhland is huge. His father Matt played defensive end at Iowa with all three of the Hartlieb brothers – Chuck, Jim and John – who played for the Hawkeyes.
“The game that stood out for me with Trevor was when we played Jacobs,” Seaburg said. “He played across from [defensive end Adam] Kulon, who’s going to Toledo, a lot and did very well. That was an eye-opener for us. We knew he had skill and ability, but to do that against a D-I recruit was impressive.”
Ruhland says he is flattered that D-I schools have already taken notice of him, although he will enjoy two more years with Gomez first.
“We work harder than a lot of people and pride ourselves in being the best, that’s what we work for,” Ruhland said. “We should have a good couple more years next to each other.”
Crete-Monee may find out what C-G’s previous opponents already have learned this season, that the two pups on the line can be extremely tough to deal with.
“You put those two guys together, they’re pretty special,” Seaburg said. “And you sometimes forget they’re sophomores.
"The whole concept of the triple option offense is you want to have a double-team at the point of attack. And if you can have a single block instead of a double team, it makes you all that more explosive. There are often times when we allow Michael to single-block a guy because he has that size and footspeed. They’re both very impressive.”