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Prep football: SCCS back to square one

The shift from 8-man to 11-man football begins

Posted: July 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: July 11, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian School football head coach Garrick Moss, middle, wraps up a practice on Wednesday at Central Park. His team is preparing for its inaugural season of 11-man.

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They might have to learn how to play more zone coverage than man-to-man on defense. They’ll most likely have to open up the passing game a lot more rather than relying so much on the ground attack.

Those are just a few of the changes the Santa Clarita Valley’s newest 11-man football team will have to deal with this summer.

Santa Clarita Christian School football is a mere three weeks into its first official practices as an 11-man squad after making the leap from 8-man in December.

For now, all 10th year head coach Garrick Moss knows is he has plenty of athletes and likely the biggest roster he’s ever seen.

“We’re starting to get it,” Moss said. “Without pads, we have a long way before we really see where we’re at.”

SCCS will bring roughly 39 players into the 2011 season with 15 freshmen so far. Moss said a few more names could be added later in the summer.

A big incoming freshman class could ease the transition to the 11-man game since most of the players come from various 11-man youth football programs.

“Most of them have played Pop Warner in seventh and eighth grade so they know,” Moss said. “Football is football to them.”

As far as the returning players are concerned, the football fundamentals are there. It’s just a matter of making the scheming and technical changes.

“It’s whole new playbook brand new from scratch,” Moss said. “It’s not like we just added a little bit or changed things a little bit. We’ve had to put in a whole new offense.”

So far, the Cardinals have played two passing-league games against Vasquez of Acton, a team SCCS will face in week 2 of the regular season.

SCCS was roughed up in the first matchup, but the team made adjustments quickly and bounced back to win the second game.

Like Vasquez, every team on the schedule this year will be brand new to SCCS players and coaches alike.

It’s been a laborious process trying to track down game film and scouting information on future opponents.

“The big challenge is, the last 10 years being in the same league pretty much and the same division of 8-man football, you get to know these teams really well and you’ve scouted them and you have these relationships with the coaches,” Moss said.

Now, Moss and company will have to start that process over.

That, coupled with the task of installing a new offense has created plenty of off-field work.

An 11-man offense lends itself more to precision passing rather than scrambling in the pocket and simply trying to find an open man.

In past years, SCCS has been able to rely on a strong running game from players like 2009 graduate and four-year starter Collin Keoshian as well as 2010 graduate Daniel Green, who transferred to SCCS his senior year.

With the departure of those players along with the 8-man style has ushered in a much more pass-heavy, mechanical system.

“Most teams you see are going with really strong, athletic guys who’s footwork and technique is really strong,” Moss said of his team’s future opponents.

Defense may have to pick up the slack early on, as it will likely have an easier time adjusting, Moss said. The skills needed to play defense, speed, agility and tackling ability, are more universal, and SCCS teams in the recent past haven’t had much trouble in those departments.

None of that will truly come into play until mid-August when full-padded practices begin. Until then, the Cardinals will have to practice at Central Park while their usual field at The Master’s College is under repair.

Neither field is ideal size for an 11-man field, which is 20 yards longer than an 8-man field.

“In a perfect world, yeah we’d have a better practice field, but we’re really excited because it’s a legitimate 50x80 (yards),” Moss said of The Master’s College’s field. “We couldn’t host a game there, but we feel we can get everything done that we need to get done out there.”

They’ll know for sure when fall camp opens.

That’s when the new era of SCCS football really begins.


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