Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a five part series on Coach Moore.
This is a story about a man of great faith. About a nice guy who finished first instead of last.We’ll begin in Bonham, Texas.Head Coach Jerry Moore grew up in this rural farming community where Christianity and Friday night football were the two religions. He was raised by hard-working, blue-collared parents who had been through the Great Depression. Moore was a young wide receiver working to reach the heights of local football hero Bill Swoboda, a New York Giants All-Pro linebacker. Moore had just come off his first season with the Bonham High School varsity team, in which his squad finished 0-10. But the winless season didn’t matter to him. He knew he would be better his sophomore year. He would be faster. He would be stronger.And so would the rest of his team.”I wanted to play, but I wanted to win,” Moore said. “The coaches that I played for were coaches that had won. One of them only played in two losing games his entire life. It was more than just playing. It was about trying to win and be the best that I could be.”After not winning a single game for the whole entire 1953 season, M. B. Nelson was hired as head coach. Coach Nelson was tough but he encouraged dedication and a will to win.The will to win was key to Moore’s success then and now.It is Wednesday, four days after Appalachian State’s conference win over Chattanooga, and the football team is clumped in a huddle in the middle of the field praying.No one is moving – they’re focused on praying.Moore is in the huddle, praying as one with the rest of his football team.”I think the players respect him,” Assistant Head Coach Scott Satterfield said. “When you respect someone, it doesn’t matter if they yell at you or they whisper to you. When you respect them, you are going to do exactly what they tell you to do, and when you don’t do it, you feel like you let them down. You don’t ever want to let Coach Moore down.”After the prayer, Moore walks off the field with his slow Texas gait.He has definitely come a long way since that 0-10 season his freshman year of high school.
Story: CHASE ERICKSON, Sports Reporter