EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – At Eastwood, the Troopers had a saying; in life, three things were for sure: taxes, death and that Eddie Cruz would be open.
“He was so reliable,” senior quarterback Christian Castaneda said. “We all had trust in him, every single person on this team, every coach, every person in the stands, we all knew he was going to be open. It just goes to show how great he was.”
Tragedy hit the Trooper family on Monday. A star wide receiver for Eastwood during its 2018 district championship season, Eddie Cruz died in an apparent drowning incident at Bill Evans Lake near Silver City, New Mexico.
“Personally, Eddie meant a lot to the family,” Troopers head coach Julio Lopez said. “My son over the years has gotten close to a lot of players. Eddie Cruz was his favorite player.”
Cruz was a beloved son, brother, friend and teammate, who would read to kindergarteners at Scotsdale Elementary School every year.
“He was just one of those guys that could really light up a room. We’re just devastated,” Lopez said.
Cruz was a freshman wide receiver at Western New Mexico University at the time of his death. His work ethic was legendary.
“He just pushed us to be great, by him wanting to be great. We all saw it and we all wanted to be like him,” Castaneda said.
“My favorite memory is him always hyping us up and getting everyone up when we were feeling down about a game or we were in adversity, he was always picking everyone up and making everybody feel better,” said junior linebacker Rudy Tellez.
The Troopers were already playing the biggest game in Texas on Thursday, against Plano Senior High School at The Star in Frisco. A game that was meant to help El Paso heal after the August 3 shooting has taken on an even bigger meaning.
“We’re definitely playing this Thursday and the rest of the year for him. This season definitely took on a whole new meaning for sure after yesterday and we’re playing in his honor,” Lopez said.
His legacy at Eastwood won’t soon be forgotten.
“He was a great dude. He was one of my brothers and I just love him so much. I’m just gonna miss him bro,” Castaneda said.
Eddie Cruz was just 18 years old.