The 6-foot, 200-pound senior, who also sees time at tight end, notched 10 stops, including eight solos, in the first half.
"I love getting my nose in there, being as physical as possible," he said. "I think I feed off the system [Roman defensive coordinator] Neil Regan has in place."
Last spring, Cruz threw the javelin in track and field. "I think my best mark was 100 feet or so," he said. "It was harder than I had expected."
Rebounding from an embarrassing loss to St. Joseph's Prep, the Cahillites improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league. Ryan dropped to 3-3 and 0-2.
Cruz, who added 15 pounds in the offseason, helped Roman's defense make a 14-0 advantage - gained early by Mike Keir's two quarterback keepers - stand up.
"Chris is a big, physical kid," Roman coach Joe McCourt said. "That's why we moved him inside on defense. We're starting to use him more at tight end. He's a matchup problem for most cornerbacks."
In the first quarter, after a poor punt gave them the ball at the Ryan 47, the Cahillites, with the wind at their backs, capitalized with an eight-play drive capped by Keir's 7-yard scamper around right end.
"I don't think we played well on defense in the first 12 minutes," Red Raiders coach Frank McArdle said. "Somebody must have told our kids that the game started at 3 o'clock instead of 2:30."
Early in the second quarter, Keir set up his 17-yard score with an 8-yard pass to tailback Dimetri Kelly and two tosses, of 37 and 18 yards, to wideout Will Fuller.
"The wind made things tough," said Keir, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 160 yards. "A lot of my deep balls were getting caught up in the air."
Three minutes before intermission, Ryan, which was spurred by tailback Jeremiah Agrio's 121 rushing yards, trimmed Roman's lead in half on Mark Ostaszewski's 31-yard pass to Connor Golden.
In the second half, with Collin Shields, Ricky Rivera, and Hez Trahan leading the charge up front, the Cahillites limited the hosts to 17 rushing yards and three first downs.
"The defense played fast, strong, and with a high intensity," said Cruz, a Northern Liberties resident who is hearing from James Madison, Stony Brook, and Massachusetts.
Roman Catholic 7 7 0 0 - 14
Archbishop Ryan 0 7 0 0 - 7
RC: Mike Keir 7 run (Phillip Isaac kick)
RC: Keir 17 run (Isaac kick)
AR: Connor Golden 31 pass from Mark Ostaszewski (Joe Stock kick)
Contact Rick O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org, or @ozoneinq on Twitter. Read his blog, "The O'Zone," at www.philly.com/ozone