Friday Night Hero: A.L. Brown’s Chris Moore
By Mike London
KANNAPOLIS ó Senior linebacker Chris Moore watched last season’s A.L. Brown-Mooresville game from the sidelines and was an eyewitness as Mooresville back Jjshaun Pinkston ran wild for 210 yards.
That was one of four games Moore missed in 2007 with a troublesome shoulder.
“I hit somebody and the shoulder didn’t dislocate, but it went way, way back and some ligaments were loosened up,” Moore said.
“But I’m fine now.”
The Wonders (2-0) need Moore to be fine because ferocious junior middle linebacker Terrance Johnson, a big-time prospect, is still rehabbing a torn ACL. One of last year’s starters, Kenneth Yates, graduated. That leaves Moore as the leader of a new LB group that includes Desmond Gray, Josh Moss and undersized former fullback Landon Morgan.
“I’m one of the guys who’s been out here four years,” Moore said. “So I’ve got to show more leadership.”
At 5-foot-11, 190 pounds, Moore isn’t going to scare anyone at first glance, but, like most Wonders, he’s stronger and faster than he appears.
Strength and conditioning coach Todd Hagler said Moore is one of the team’s 10 fastest athletes, but running back Johnathan Williams politely interjected, “Chris is top five.”
“He really is fast and will run a 4.6 every time,” Hagler said. “Sometimes he’s even a little better than that. And he’s strong. He had all those shoulder issues last year, but he kept doing replacement stuff in the weight room and lots of stabilizing exercises to help the shoulder.”
Moore’s been putting his fast, healthy body to good use as a cornerstone of a defense that has been outstanding the first two weeks.
Brown is allowing 150 yards per game.
Central Cabarrus’ offense didn’t scratch against the Wonders opening night, and South Rowan, a team Hagler was very impressed with, managed zero sustained scoring drives and one big-play TD in a 28-7 defeat.
Studying film of South’s 16-14 loss to Salisbury, Wonder defenders watched quarterback Blake Houston rush for 105 yards and make tons of plays with his feet. Brown didn’t allow any of that. Houston was sacked seven times and lost 14 yards in 16 rushing attempts.
“We saw what Houston is capable of on film, but he looked a little surprised and shocked he couldn’t do more against us,” Moore said.
Veteran defensive back Billy Simiton explained the Wonders’ approach.
“We had good coverage on Houston’s receivers downfield, our linebackers did a great job of containing and our big linemen got pressure,” he said. “Everyone working together like that creates sacks.”
Sacks won’t be as much of an issue against Mooresville because Pinkston is still the centerpiece of the offense. He scored five TDs in Mooresville’s 2008 opener.
“Pinkston exploded on us last year, and he’s a big challenge,” Simiton said. “We’ve got to make them pass.”
“Exploded” is the right word. Pinkston sped 65 and 51 yards on his first two touches in last season’s 29-26 loss to the Wonders.
The versatile Moore knows all three linebacker positions. He played the strong side to contain Houston last week, but he could move inside against the run-oriented Blue Devils.
Moore could only watch Pinkston last year, but this time his shoulder is healthy.
Their confrontations could decide Friday’s game.