During the Santa Clarita Christian School lunch break Friday afternoon, nearly the entire high school (which consists in total of 140 kids) filled into the gym.
Against a wall was a table where offensive lineman Noah Nnabuo was preparing to sign his National Letter of Intent to play at Delaware State, with a poster covered in the school’s logo serving as the backdrop.
There were smiles, laughter, Domino’s pizza — it seemed like a ceremony that the school has undergone plenty of times.
But it hadn’t, at least up until the last few years.
Nnabuo’s signing marked the second year in a row that the Cardinals sent a player to an NCAA Division 1-AA program. It also marked the second player in the school’s history to sign with a Division 1-AA program right out of high school.
Former Cardinals wide receiver Jacob Moss became the first to do it last year, signing with Moorhead State.
“We hope it’s a trend that people get excited and think, ‘It doesn’t matter what division they’re in, they’re still sending guys out to play big-time football,’’ said SCCS football coach Chazz Anderson. “We’re really thankful.”
The Cardinals finished their San Joaquin League season undefeated and their season, which was Anderson’s first at the helm, came to an end in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 13 tournament.
They’ve also made the postseason in each of the last three seasons.
“SCCS has good athletes but sometimes they don’t always get noticed because it’s a smaller school,” Moss said over the phone. “Not many people know us in California and out of state it’s even worse. I also don’t think people realize how great the coaching is.”
Moss had high praise for Anderson’s work, along with Josh Kristoff, the school’s athletic director and defensive coordinator on the football team.
“I wouldn’t have been ready to play on the college level without those guys,” said Moss, who redshirted his freshman season at Moorehead State.
Nnabuo was deciding on offers to play at Delaware State and Olivet Nazarene – an NAIA program in Bourbonnais, Ill. He also had an offer to join Kent State as walk-on.
The 6-foot-4, 280-pound lineman had an especially unique case, as Nnabuo moved from his native Stuttgart, Germany, to join SCCS prior to his junior year. He worked with the Gridiron Imports program, which looks to help football players living outside the United States earn scholarships and is run by former NFL defensive end Bjorn Werner.
“This is the reason I came into this country – to get a (Division 1) scholarship,” Nnabuo said. “It finally came true and I’m so excited.”
While Nnabuo came from abroad to join the Cardinals’ rising program, they also hope to attract more talented players from the region. Their recent track record of winning and sending players off to college should certainly help in that department.
“With people like Noah signing to play in college, and all the success of our boys basketball team, it’s getting our name out there,” Moss said. “We don’t want people to worry about getting noticed in athletics just because they play at SCCS.”