On Friday night, Jeff Moore will stare across the field, dissecting a team that was once his from a sideline he was once paid to beat.
Moore, an assistant coach for the Hickman Kewpies, was the coach of the Rock Bridge Bruins in 1998-99. Moore resigned after going 3-17, including a 0-10 season in 1999, the worst season in Rock Bridge history.
“In coaching, you are going to have years like that,” Moore said. “You just have to build from it.”
Taking over for John Henage, who retired after 21 years, Moore had high expectations, but a shallow talent pool.
“I knew the talent wasn’t good when I went in there,” Moore said. “I thought we had some good kids, but the talent level was down. That was one of the drawbacks to the coaching position and I knew that. When Henage approached me about the job, he knew I would take the time and be patient with the program and the talent would come.”
Principal Bruce Brotzman and parents lacked Moore’s patience and demanded a change. Since Moore’s departure in December 1999, Rock Bridge has had four coaches in roughly four years: Ted Monachino, Dan Devine Jr., Barry Odom and A.J. Ofodile.
“There was a change in administration that didn’t have the same philosophy as Henage and I,” Moore said. “I thought it would be a three-year, four-year type deal. I was given two years, but things happen for a reason, and I am happy over here.”
An impressive resume
Moore brings an impressive coaching resume that spans 26 years to Hickman. Moore started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Southeastern Oklahoma State. Moore worked at MU in 1981 and later worked for Oklahoma as graduate assistant. From there, Moore became coach of Tarkio College in northwest Missouri for three years and won three district titles with the Mexico Bulldogs from 1988-97.
After Moore resigned from Rock Bridge, Hickman coach Gregg Nesbitt said he knew he wanted Moore on his sideline. Moore said he met Nesbitt when he coached at Mexico and Nesbitt coached at Hannibal.
“It was a good friendship,” Moore said. “It wasn’t just a football thing. Our wives and us had dinner together. It wasn’t just your normal football camaraderie.”
Nesbitt said he couldn’t pass up having a coach of Moore’s caliber on his sideline.
“He is a quality football coach,” Nesbitt said. “He’s a great role model, a super person. He’s just too good of a coach, particularly hired in the district, not to utilize as a coach somewhere.”
Nesbitt said Moore, a devout Christian, offers other advantages to the team in addition to his work on special teams.
“He is consistent in the way he lives his life,” Nesbitt said “He is a role model for our kids and is a stabilizing influence for both players and coaches.”
Moore's love for coaching keeps him coming back
Moore’s experience on Oklahoma’s 1985 national championship team also was intriguing, Nesbitt said.
“He’s been through the fires,” Nesbitt said. “He’s coached collegiately, he’s been a coordinator, a head coach in college and on the high school level. He’s been through the fires so he’s seen all the emotional swings that happen in big ball games.”
Although Moore could have retired from coaching instead of accepting a lower position, he said he continues to coach because he loves the game.
“I didn’t ever get tired of football,” Moore said. “I like football, I like working with the kids. The game is fun. I think it is one of the few sports that you have to commit wholeheartedly mind, body and soul in order to survive. Then if you get your guys to buy into your program, it is a very rewarding experience.”
Moore said he is open to head-coaching positions, but is happy with his position on the Hickman staff.
“It has kind of been in the back of my mind if I want to do it again,” Moore said. “I doubt it will be at this level. I’ve thought about administration, I’ve though about other things, but I just enjoy the game that much and enjoy being around guys that love to coach and kids that love to play.”