Caleb Moretti and Jakob Costley wrote their autographs then smiled for the cameras.
The South Tahoe seniors signed their national letters of intent Tuesday morning, March 20, in the school's traditional location, just outside the strength and conditioning room.
"I think it's kind of the synergy of the school," said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin, who also mentioned three other football players are still going on visits and sorting out their options. "We always sign in the strength and conditioning center. When college coaches come, they see our kids are college ready. We have a full-time strength and conditioning coach, a full-time athletic trainer, we think as football coaches that we have a good staff and we have good relationships with coaches. When we have the rights kids that are ready to go, we have the right people to call to help them find good fits."
Moretti to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
When Moretti arrived at South Tahoe for his senior year after attending George Whittell High School, Franklin didn't quite know what kind of player he had.
Moretti practiced during the summer and was quiet, but Franklin could see confidence.
So it wasn't a surprise when Moretti helped take over the Vikings season opener against Sparks. He intercepted two passes from his inside linebacker position and returned them both for touchdowns.
"He kinda stole the momentum, him and Castles just shut that game down," Franklin said. "And really set the tone."
Moretti the next week stood at the center of the field as a co-team captain for the coin flip. He helped set the physical tone for the Vikings defense and finished the season as the leading tackler by a good margin. He also intercepted a team-high four passes. On offense as a receiver, he made five catches and three were for touchdowns.
"Moretti had a read, he's disciplined enough to read his read, and then he pulled the trigger every time and he always made good decisions," Franklin said. "I think it's the same way with his schooling."
And when it comes to school, Moretti is headed to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana on a $33,000 scholarship that is renewable year-to-year. It's a top engineering school in the country. Their athletic mascot is the Fightin' Engineers.
"It feels good to come here, work hard and have it payoff," said Moretti, who made first team All-Northern League. "I get to go to college for football and I'm excited about that. And it's also a great academic school and that was my top priority."
Moretti hopes to become a software engineer and see where that takes him, which is likely the land of money after he earns a degree. He spends his free time getting better at coding in preparation for his major.
He took an official visit last week and enjoyed the campus, people, coaches and players.
"It just seemed like a great fit for me," Moretti said.
Moretti also had offers to walk-on at UC Davis and Cal Poly and a scholarship offer from division I Jacksonville, but decided in the end to pick ideal academics over top-level athletics.
Costley signs with Gustavus Adolphus College
Franklin calls Costley one of the "most hard-nosed, underrated kids I've coached."
Costley, a running back, was one of the Vikings most consistent players and led the team in several offensive categories including yards rushing (1,077), touchdowns (13), points scored (78) and all-purpose yards (1,222).
On defense, the safety was second on the team in tackles (85) and caused a co-team-high three fumbles.
Franklin couldn't believe Costley only made second team all-league. He was a determined running back who helped set the offensive tone for the Vikings.
"He was so underrated and undervalued because when teams started dropping eight or seven (defenders), we could hand the ball off to him and he'd easily gain 100 yards per game," Franklin said. "A lot of times there were breakdowns and he would make things happen because he's so naturally athletic. A lot of the yardage he earned by himself. He was a real life-saver for our offense."
Costley will attend Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. It's a division III school that wants Costley pretty bad. His academic scholarship is paying almost everything of his $50,000 per year education. He estimates he'll pay about $400 over four years.
"It's great to see that all the hard work paid off and that I'm going to a place I love and playing the sport I love," Costley said. "It's really exciting."
He recently took his official visit and liked everything about the place. He said it felt like home. He's hoping to play early, something at which the coaches there have hinted.
He plans to major in business management, something he's been into since he "was little."
He makes his own inventions and even had a notebook where he'd write down ideas. He came up with an idea for a plant watering device and then, after he came up with it, he saw a commercial on TV.
For his senior project he is inventing a form of a dog collar and writing a paper on pain management.
Costley is working out "eight days per week" in the strength and conditioning room trying to bulk up as much as possible before he hits the road and leaves home for Minnesota.
"It's far way from home, and that was definite issue for me while deciding," Costley said. "But my mom just told me to go have an adventure. Go somewhere different and have fun. When she said that, it was the turning point for me."