Jacob Moss always wanted to be a Cardinal.
As an elementary school student at Santa Clarita Christian, he rubbed shoulders with older standouts like Collin Keoshian, a future NCAA Division 1 football player.
As early as second grade, Moss served as the varsity team’s ball boy, and he always envied the guys playing for his dad, longtime head coach Garrick Moss.
Still, the now-senior has occasionally thought about what it would’ve been like to play at a Foothill League school, alongside youth football teammates like Canyon High quarterback Miles Fallin. But Moss never contemplated leaving SCCS, never even brought it up.
Nights like Friday — when he recorded an SCCS single-game record 255 yards receiving in a first-round CIF-Southern Section Division 13 playoff win — affirm, for him, that he made the right decision. Not simply because of the achievement, but because of the team he shared it with.
“I love the atmosphere,” Moss says of SCCS.
And the football program loves him back.
While 255 yards is his high, the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Moss has been hanging prolific performances on defenses for the better part of three years.
He has posted at least 950 yards receiving the last three seasons, breaking the school’s career receiving mark last year by surpassing Cam Lewis’ 1,756 yards.
Moss now sits at 3,506 yards.
Obviously, the numbers are impressive. But they also beg the question, could Moss have started for one of the Santa Clarita Valley’s public high schools in the Foothill League?
“Absolutely,” Canyon coach Rich Gutierrez answered in a text message.
Moss played youth football with Fallin, Canyon’s starting quarterback the last three seasons, and they both attended camps at Ivy League programs Columbia and Yale over the summer.
Fallin says he and Moss positioned themselves in the camps’ passing lines so they’d be working together. Amid a group of players unfamiliar with each other, the two already had a connection.
“I would have loved to have him (at Canyon),” Fallin says. “He’s just a good kid. … He has a great work ethic. I think he could have started for a Foothill team.”
Fallin also highlighted Moss’ precise route running and quickness — attributes that have caught the eye of D1 Football Championship Subdivision schools and carved Moss’ name into Cardinals history.
He holds 11-man football school records for receiving TDs (31), catches (247), total TDs (40) and all-purpose yards (5,435).
But the success never pulled him away from SCCS.
“I’ve always loved going to SCCS,” Moss says. “From kindergarten, I love … being around the people. I never really wanted to transfer, but there were thoughts of, ‘it could have been fun to play with the guys that I grew up with.’
“I definitely love the team that I’ve been on this season. I can definitely say it’s the closest team I’ve had in the past four years.”
2016 has tested that bond.
SCCS stumbled to an 0-4 start, including a 35-0 drubbing at the hands of Campbell Hall of North Hollywood.
“We were confused on what was going on,” Moss says. “Our coaches always said God was going to do something great.”
SCCS, though, stayed the course.
“When we win or lose, all the guys are saying, ‘I love playing with you guys,’” Moss says.
For his part, Moss rattled off four straight games of 130-plus receiving yards, and the Cardinals won five in a row before a one-point loss to Saddleback Valley Christian of San Juan Capistrano in the regular-season finale Nov. 3.
A win would have meant their first 11-man league title.
Instead, one week later they won their first-ever 11-man playoff game in Moss’ record-breaking performance.
The Cardinals play South El Monte in Friday’s quarterfinals (time and place are yet to be determined). Who knows what lies ahead? A CIF title? Moss’ second All-CIF honor? An All-Santa Clarita Valley honor that would place Moss alongside his youth football buddies?
Again, Moss brought the focus back to SCCS.
“It would be cool to have SCCS on the map for (the All-SCV team),” Moss says, “and be able to rep my school.”