Austin Moore is not the highest skilled football player for the Herndon High Hornets. But over the first half of his senior season, the linebacker/fullback has emerged into the type of hard-nosed, impact player coach Joe Sheaffer knew he could become.
“He can do a little of everything for us,” said Sheaffer, who said the six-foot, 205-pound Moore, along with his offensive and defensive contributions, has been a key special teams player. “He can catch the ball real well for us. On defense he’s a good, steady high school player who knows what to do.”
Moore, a team captain and a third year member of the varsity, came up huge for Herndon in its high-scoring, 29-25 win over cross-town opponent South Lakes on Sept. 17. He rushed for 93 yards on the night, including a fourth quarter touchdown run. And in the game’s closing seconds, he clinched the win for his team with a clutch interception from his linebacker position.
The win over the Seahawks improved Herndon’s record to 3-0. Since then, however, the Hornets have lost games to Robinson and, most recently, Langley, 28-13, last Friday night. Moore rushed for 55 yards on nine carries in the loss to the Saxons.
Sheaffer said Moore did not have as good a 2008 season as the Herndon coaching staff was expecting or hoping for last year as a two-way starter.
“He was a kid who didn’t play as well as we expected last year,” said Sheaffer, of Moore’s junior season. “But the kid took that to heart and had a great offseason for us. He’s matured and I think he’s become more focused.”
The coach said Moore has stretched himself to become more of a leader.
“He’s been more vocal this year, but that’s not really part of his make-up,” said Sheaffer. “He’s really spoken up this year. He was chosen as a captain and knows that means more responsibility.”
Moore, on defense, has been a bright spot for a team that has struggled at times to stop opposing offenses.
“Our defense, quite frankly, has not played real well, but not because of Austin,” said Sheaffer.
<b>ONE OF MOORE’S</b> greatest values to the Hornets has been as a special teams’ player. He has been Herndon’s punt returner all season. While Moore is not necessarily a breakaway threat, he consistently catches punted balls. Often in high school football, punt return specialists elect not to catch punted balls, instead allowing the ball to fall to the turf and bounce forward. That often results in 15 to 20 more yards to a punt’s net yardage. But Sheaffer said Moore consistently fields punts and either runs with the football or calls for a fair catch.
“He fields the position and it saves you 20 yards every time he catches the ball,” said Sheaffer.
Moore’s contributions are often mundane, behind the scenes types of things.
“He blocks very well and does a lot of little things that you won’t see in the stats box,” said Sheaffer. “He’s had a huge impact for us on special teams and everywhere.”
Moore is an outstanding student in the classroom with a 4.0 grade point average. Sheaffer said Moore could potentially play football collegiately at a smaller school If he elects to.
He and his teammates will be looking to snap their two-game losing streak this Friday night when Herndon travels to Centreville for a Concorde District matchup with the Wildcats. Game time is 7:30.