OCEANSIDE — How many high school athletes never get their chance to show what they can do? Sitting behind equal talent, with only seniority the deciding factor on who starts, many high schoolers only have their senior season to showcase themselves.
And sometimes, it’s too late or just not enough.
Oceanside High’s coaches are determined not to let that happen to Noah Tarrant.
Sitting behind Rene Siluano last season at running back, Tarrant didn’t get many accolades for the Oceanside High football team.
Siluano captured the headlines and headed off to San Diego State on a scholarship.
All Tarrant got was another chance.
“Rene was our running back, so Noah didn’t get enough quality film to grab enough attention,” head coach John Carroll said. “But now he deserves it. The key is to find a program that has an open scholarship at that spot.”
Now a senior, Tarrant leads the Pirates in rushing with 626 yards on 109 carries with nine touchdowns, while also playing linebacker on defense. His 5.7-yard average is much better than last season’s 4.3. He’d love to follow Siluano and several other teammates to SDSU, but the Aztecs are nearing their scholarship limit.
“He has all the things you look for in a running back, great start, great burst and vision,” said Carroll, whose Pirates (7-3) had a first-round bye last week in the first round of the section Division II playoffs.
And Tarrant has some other things going for him, too. He has seized the opportunity to become a take-charge guy on a team that lost loads of talent and leadership with last season’s large graduating class. The Pirates do things a little differently when it comes to captains. They don’t elect leaders. The coaches let leaders emerge, and Carroll says that has happened with Tarrant.
“He’s one of those guys who has taken control, someone the players look to to lead them,” Carroll said. “He’s got great character; he’s a great citizen and he’s a good student, a fine young man and a great football player.”
Ask any high school athlete what they do in their spare time, and they will say the inevitable “hang out with friends.”
Ask Tarrant, and it’s go to church and sing in the choir, watch over his little sisters and play rugby.
At 5-10 and 190 pounds, it would seem that Tarrant would not have the size to play linebacker. But the Pirates don’t boast the roster size of many high schools, and their coaches like to go with sure tacklers. Tarrant is one of those, but he’d rather play offense.
One of Tarrant’s other attributes is his Samoan heritage. He knows what it’s like to play football as a Samoan at Oceanside, following in the footsteps of the likes of Junior Seau and current El Camino coach Pulu Poumele, among many others.
“Just to be a part of it is a humbling experience,” said Tarrant, whose parents, Harry and Virginia, were born in Samoa. “You just want to do your best to represent Oceanside, your teammates and the school.”
These Pirates won’t get a shot at another State Bowl title, which Oceanside teams did two of the past three years. But Oceanside, seeded fourth behind Helix, Steele Canyon and Mission Hills, still can claim its seventh straight D-II title. The Pirates take on either La Costa Canyon or Hilltop in the quarterfinals.
“When you go to Oceanside nowadays, it’s expected, but it takes a lot of hard work,” Tarrant said. “The wins don’t come easy. We didn’t just get to this point without all of the hard work and the extra film sessions.
“We just have to make sure we stay humble and take it game by game, not get a big head, keep on working hard and play as one, play Oceanside football.”