By Chris Yow
Players from Columbia Central football’s past are looking to the future, and are rallying behind their former offensive coordinator John Moore. He assumed the role of interim head coach of the program on July 12, following the dismissal of Jason Hoath by new principal Kevin Eady.
Eady said he did not consult with any former players of Moore’s before making the decision to offer him the position. Had he done so, the recommendations from some of the program’s biggest names in recent memory would have been positive.
Former players have called Moore a ‘tough, but fair’ coach, including the 2010 Class 5A state championship game’s offensive and defensive most valuable player Tra’Darius Goff.
“He’s the type of guy that when it’s business time, it’s business time. He’s going to have fun and create memories,” he said. “When you went into a game with him on your side, you felt like you had an advantage because he was going to find the weakness and exploit it. He put us in the position to succeed.”
Goff, who joined the Mt. Pleasant coaching staff this season under Kit Hartsfield, said Moore is a coach he would love to work with.
“Coach Moore is a guy anyone would want to coach under; he knows what he’s doing. He has a long pedigree,” Goff said. “It’s not like he’s some guy off the street.”
Moore’s pedigree is quite impressive. His father and hall-of-famer, the late Herschel Moore, is credited with naming the “jet sweep” play and is best known for his work in the Wing-T offense. Moore’s brother, Tom, is the head coach at Hillwood.
That pedigree has given Moore an extensive knowledge of the game, according to current New England Patriots offensive guard Shaq Mason.
“No matter who you line him up against, his football knowledge is right there at the top,” Mason said. “He says some of the same things (New England coach Bill) Belichick says. They have high football IQ, and for me, I think he helped my career a lot.”
Mason credits Moore with making him work to be an offensive lineman because that was where Moore saw him playing at the collegiate level.
“All I wanted to do was sack the quarterback and get tackles for losses, but he told me that I was going to play offensive line at the next level,” he said. “Sure enough, when I got to Georgia Tech, that’s where I played.”
Some might say that advice worked out well for the two-time Super Bowl champion.
Moore’s business-like approach as a coach was one players may not have understood — or even liked — at the time. Looking back now, however, that approach was part of what made those teams successful.
“He ran a tight ship, and didn’t play around. He had direction and discipline. I didn’t always like him, but I respected him as a coach. He would bring the best out of a kid. He knows the game,” former quarterback Zach Tate said.
Matthew Markham added: “He was tough on me, and if anyone could have any ill will toward him, it would’ve been me, but I didn’t see it that way.
“He was very tough on me Monday through Thursday, and because of that, Fridays were easy.”
For those players to have such fond memories and recollection, Moore said it was a “good feeling.”
“Any time anybody says complimentary things about you, it validates what you were trying to achieve,” he said. “Everybody wants to win, but for me, the biggest thing I learned about football is the relationships you develop. I’ve got life-long friends with guys I’ve coached with, coached against and even players.
“Zach Tate calls me John, and it’s a little weird, but it’s OK because that’s the type of relationship we’ve built.”
“Some people might think he’s a hard coach and he gets on to kids, but that’s what you want as a player. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. That prepared me for coaches like Paul Johnson and Bill Belichick,” Mason said. “There are a lot of coaches who are soft, but he’s not going to let you goof off in practice.
“He’s going to have fun when it’s time to have fun, but when it’s time to work, it’s time to work.”
Mason’s mother, Alicia McGuire, said Moore was one of the few people who followed through on promises to visit Georgia Tech to watch her son play in college. Goff mentioned the connection he kept with Moore throughout the last decade as well.
“He stayed in touch with me over the years even when I was in college. He never left our side even after we finished playing for him,” he said.