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Prep football: New culture on campus

Addition of extra offseason weight training, conditioning is ushering in a new era at SCCS

Posted: August 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 20, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Christian School wide receiver Jacob Nogle, a returning junior, watches the ball fall into his hands during practice on Friday at Canyon Country Park.

A major transition is taking place within the Santa Clarita Christian football team.

It’s more than just adjusting to a higher level of play now that SCCS enters its second season in the 11-man ranks after playing 8-man the previous 10 years.

This year, it’s an outright culture change.

And it started months ago.

“Nowadays, when you look at successful programs, where (they) really prepare for the season is January on,” said SCCS head coach Garrick Moss. “It’s spring weight training, spring football, summer football.”

Moss has been head coach since 2003 and he said he’s never seen one of his teams go through the type of conditioning it did this year.

Last year was the team’s debut at 11-man, and the season had its ups and downs.

SCCS went 5-6, but suffered a few lopsided losses to teams that were much bigger in physical size and in sheer numbers.

That included SCCS’s 69-0 loss to Salesian High of Los Angeles in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division playoffs.

“We had ways of really dominating 8-man,” said Moss, who coached the team to a pair of CIF-Southern Section 8-man titles in 2008 and 2009. “It doesn’t work in 11-man, even the Northeastern division.”

In many ways, the 2011 season was a wakeup call for the Cardinals.

So much so, it prompted Moss and the players to make a change.

“I think we knew we had the tools, but we just needed to get a lot better,” said junior running back and linebacker Derek Lewis.

Last year, Lewis rushed for 343 yards on 71 carries and he led the team with 71 tackles.

Coaches are expecting more out of him this year with his added bulk and an extra year of growth.

And it isn’t just Lewis.

He and a group of six other junior players – all of whom started last year as sophomores — spearheaded a full weightlifting regimen shortly after the conclusion of the 2011 season.

Soon, the entire team was in the weight room, all being guided by assistant head coach Les Robinson.

It was his idea to create a year-round training program for the team in the first place.

“We physically weren’t prepared to play (11-man), so we feel like we’re better prepared to play physically,” Robinson said. “And that’s where we wanted to be. We wanted to be strong.”

As a result of the increased training, the Cardinals felt more comfortable entering numerous summer passing camps – more than ever before.

SCCS held its own in two separate College of the Canyons passing tournaments against schools which, in some cases, had 10 times the enrollment.

It served as good practice considering SCCS will often face schools with many more players and therefore more depth.

“We’ve got to outwork them in the offseason and we’ve got to outthink them in the field,” Moss said.



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