All it can take is one moment to click — for everything to fall into place.
For Greenwood running back Trey Cross, that moment came during the team’s district matchup against Seminole on September 21.
The sophomore took a handoff early in the second half and burst through the offensive line for a 70-yard touchdown that gave the Rangers the lead en route to a 28-21 victory in the District 1-4A Division II opener.
When the season ended, Cross had carried the ball 142 times for 1,301 yards and 18 touchdowns, his production helping the Rangers win the district title and advance to the regional semifinals for the first time since 2012.
That effort helped Cross earn All-Permian Basin Newcomer of the Year honors for 2018.
“We knew since he was a freshman that Trey was going to be a really good football player,” Greenwood head coach Jared Sanderson said. “He had a lot of speed and a knack for finding a way to get into the end zone.”
That skill set was needed early this season as the Rangers dealt with injuries to a number of key contributors.
One of those was junior running back Ryan Snodgrass, who went down with an injury in the team’s third game of the year against Shallowater.
The following week against Seminole is when Cross got his big break with that long touchdown run early in the second half.
Turns out, it was a sign of things to come.
“After that first game I started, that really started building confidence that I could really do it,” Cross said on his breakout season. “I was a little nervous at first but once I got a few plays in, I started feeling comfortable.”
His coach took notice of that as well.
“As coaches, we saw that (run) and we all basically said, ‘There’s Trey’,” Sanderson said. “From that point, that was his expectation that he was going to be able to make plays like that.”
Cross followed that performance up with a 269-yard, five-touchdown game the following week against Sweetwater as his development continued.
When Snodgrass returned to the lineup the following week, the Rangers offense kept on moving and the duo became an even more formidable force in the backfield.
Cross credits the junior for helping him take on a bigger during the season.
“I saw things that Ryan did that really helped me,” Cross said. “I just started noticing the way he ran and I tried to pick up as much as I could from him.”
“Ryan wants what’s best for his team and he knew how special Trey could be,” Sanderson said. “He did whatever he could to help him with everything from schemes to plays and new terminology.”
There was a bit of a learning curve for Cross as he adjusted to his new role, but it was a challenge he felt prepared for.
He also was appreciative of the encouragement he ended up getting from his blockers up front.
“Our offensive line was a big key for us,” he said. “They blocked really well for us and we got closer as a team when we really started believing in the process.”
The emergence of Cross played a pivotal role during the Rangers’ nine-game winning streak this season.
Add in the fact that a number of other players got game reps this season and Sanderson believes that it bodes well for his team moving forward.
“A lot of kids got good quality reps that weren’t necessarily in the plans,” Sanderson said. “You have those guys up for depth but they got thrown in the early and it gave us a lot of depth later in the season.”
With the offseason now underway, the focus now moves to getting better both physically and mentally.
For Sanderson, he wants to see Cross continue to develop as a go-to back.
“He’s always been able to outrun everyone and get to the edge,” Sanderson said. “He had to develop by learning what we’re doing up front and not just about where he steps on a play.”
“He did an outstanding job of that through the first couple of weeks and we hope that he continues to work on.”
For Cross, his focus is on both self-improvement and helping the Rangers make a deeper playoff push in 2019.
“I felt like we had a good season this year,” Cross said. “I want to go further in the playoffs next year.”
He added, “As a junior next year, I want to help the younger guys coming up.”