York will beat South Pointe on Friday night if the Cougars offense stays on schedule and running back Ryan Moore has a big night pounding the football.
The senior back, built like a brick house, has produced some clutch performances this season in helping York to an 8-1 overall record and 4-1 mark in Region 3. Moore’s focus and maturity outside of the white lines ensure big-time production between them.
“He’s just well-rounded and he’s been in the fire,” said York coach Bobby Carroll, who called Moore one of the strongest pound-for-pound players he’s ever coached. “He works hard, he’s got a plan, a goal in life, and I think that’s what makes him such a great kid to coach.”
Moore is the kind of athlete who can glean motivation from even the slightest slight. Perhaps the most significant inspiration comes from his older brother Ricky, who was the MVP of Clover’s state championship win in 2007.
“One year I got a Christmas present for him,” Ricky said on Thursday morning. “It was a picture of me standing in front of the mirror holding my state championship ring.”
Ricky wrote on the picture, “Ryan I love you and you’re doing amazing things. But I cannot let you be better than me until you get a ring.”
Ryan keeps the photo in his locker.
“Even though I’ve done things he’s never done before, I still don’t have a state ring,” Moore said. “He holds that over me.”
The locker photo is just another spur for Moore, who, according to Herald stats, has 1,265 yards and 14 touchdowns on 190 carries this season, an average of 6.7 yards per tote. Simply playing high school football in Region 3 would be impetus enough for most to bust their tail.
“We’re playing D-I athletes every week,” Moore said. “We just got done playing Northwestern; South Pointe this week with Zeek (Rodney), with (Josh) Massey, they’re all D-I. There’s always someone watching too.”
Moore, a bruising 5-foot-11, 200 pounds, can find running lanes anywhere. But it’s his ability to find motivation on a weekly basis that really drives him. The week of York’s game against Nation Ford, Moore was left off of the Shrine Bowl squad, a perceived snub by many. He ran for 270 yards and two touchdowns against Michael Allen’s Falcons in a 66-24 blowout victory for the Cougars.
“He’s definitely a bruising-type running back, a possession-type running back, and he’ll house-call you in a minute,” Allen said, using football jargon for a long touchdown run. “Most people are going to have trouble getting him on the ground. He’s just a competitor and a great football player.”
Many would agree, including the coaching staff for this year’s 66th annual North-South all-star game. Dave Gutshall and company selected Moore as one of four running backs for the North squad, giving him one final shot at impressing college recruiters.
The senior already has scholarship offers from Youngstown State, Air Force, The Citadel, Bucknell, Lehigh, Gardner-Webb, Hampton, Presbyterian and Limestone. And he has an official visit scheduled to Youngstown State on Nov. 16 when the Penguins host North Dakota State, the No. 1-ranked Football Championship Series team in the nation. But it still rankles Moore that none of the bigger schools, especially locally, have offered a scholarship to a player who has run for over 1,000 yards each of the last three years.
“I’d love to see Clemson and South Carolina, just because it’s local and I’d like it to be easy for my family and friends to come watch,” he said. “But any D-I, single-A I’d love to have.”
Moore, who has a 4.2 grade point average and will graduate in December, is thrilled with the offers he has, but trying to get the big boys’ attention still pushes him. So do losses, especially the 45-15 whipping Northwestern gave York last week. Moore didn’t hold back when discussing that humbling experience.
“We got our butts handed to us. There’s no excuses,” he said before Wednesday’s practice. “Defense didn’t execute; offense, people said it was gonna be a shootout, we didn’t make it a shootout. Both sides of the ball didn’t do anything.”
The Trojans not only handed the Cougars their first loss of the season, but also provided a blueprint for how to beat York: take Moore out of the equation. The Cougars, who average 172 rushing yards per game, followed a perfect first drive touchdown with two punts, a turnover-on-downs and an interception. Northwestern scored 38 straight points in the meantime, forcing York into a pass-focused attack, and seriously limiting Moore, who finished with 94 yards, most coming in the second half with the game largely decided.
Key to York’s offensive success this season – the Cougars average more than 43 points per game – has been offensive balance.
“The passing game sets up the run for Ryan, and vice-versa,” Carroll said.
Take away one or the other, and Carroll’s team can flounder.
“That’s exactly what we tried to do when we played them,” said Allen. “It kind of fell apart on us. But I think that’s important; if you can get them into more of a passing game then you have a better chance.”
Opponents have an idea of what to do against Moore and York. It’s just more motivation for the running back, who already stares at the back of his locker every day.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T