When Seffner Christian Academy senior Garrett Saunders signed his paperwork to attend Olivet Nazarene University on a dual football and baseball scholarship, he made school history. Never before had a student there received a dual-sport scholarship. And, as the football program is just two years old, never before had one received a football scholarship.
But the location and timing of the signing is what might be most notable. Seffner Christian is just blocks away from national powerhouse football program Armwood. The Hawks went a perfect 15-0 last season and won the 6A state football title. But after an I-Team investigation led FHSAA investigators to look into potentially-ineligible players who did not make legal transfers last year, they found five players in violation of the rules, and the school might now have to forfeit its entire season, including the state championship.
The belief that parents were responsible for the ineligibility, in order to give their kids a better shot at getting college football scholarships, is met with the story of Saunders, who stayed put, received a number of local honors for his success, and ultimately got a scholarship of his own.
While he is not exactly headed to a national powerhouse football or baseball program in Olivet, Garrett did find it to be the right fit for him. He says he's proud to show that good things can come to those who stay right where they are, even if their program is a tiny start-up in the shadows of an established giant.