INDUSTRY, Pa. — It looks like word spread quickly about Western Beaver’s new football coach.
After practice on Tuesday, as the players and coaches filed back into the locker room, a blue No. 6 Penn State jersey and a few photos sat on the coaches’ table.
The jersey belonged to a friend of an assistant, but was originally worn by the Golden Beaver’s first-year head coach.
Derek Moye signed the memorabilia as a the group shared a few laughs about the opportunity to meet and interact with a man who holds Penn State records and even caught a touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger.
“I didn’t know who he was,” said senior Noah Gray. “I heard some kids on the team saying our coach is a (former) Steeler, so I was pretty excited.”
“Someone had to tell me. But as I was looking him up, I said ‘oh okay, he played for the Steelers’, so I was excited about him being my coach,” said senior linebacker Daquan Bradford. “At first it was my dad because he heard from the other coaches, but then other people started to tell me (about Moye) too.”
Leave it to high school kids to make a 31-year-old first-time head coach feel, well, old.
“This generation I’m coaching now, it sounds crazy, but I’m a little bit older for them,” said Moye with a smile.
As the kids became familiar with Moye and who he was, they also started to see his work ethic and the intensity he brought to all facets of the game.
Moye (and this probably isn’t a surprise for a first year coach) attended the offseason lifting programs and began to show the team the expectations he had for them.
“He focuses a lot on our team chemistry, and how we need to get along better,” said Bradford, who is one of the Lincoln Park co-op players. “He focuses on us being a family, especially at practice. We need to practice as a family. If someone gets hit, you pick them back up and keep practicing. It’s making a big difference.”
Bradford is one of 12 Lincoln Park players in the second year of a co-op between the schools. Last season, nine Leopards were on the roster, which is encouraging for both the players and coaches.
“It’s good, but it’s definitely a challenge,” said Moye. “We have kids that are from different areas. Some kids are from Industry, and having kids from Clairton, it’s different. But kids are kids. Once they get together and talk, they realize they have things in common, and I think they’re getting along.”
“It’s getting better each year,” said Gray. “We’re playing with the same guys and we know what we’re doing together.”
The relationships appeared strong on the field, and the Lincoln Park players appear to be enjoying the opportunity in year two.
“Coming from a school that mainly focuses on basketball (Lincoln Park) to a school that mainly focuses on football, so me doing this, it’s a new experience. I need to put in the work and show these people what I can do and show them I can play football as well,” said Bradford.
Not to mention the coach he’s looking to impress.
“He practiced with profession football players both in college and in the NFL. So, usually now we’re practicing NFL and college practices, so he’s preparing us for the future. If things get tough, push through it.”
One look at Moye’s previous coaches show it’s not a surprise he’s looking to be the mentor-type.
From Gene Matsook at Rochester, the Paternos at Penn State and Mike Tomlin in the NFL, it’s easy to see the type of coach that Moye is accustomed to.
Even in his one year as an assistant coach with Aliquippa, he was with one of the best.
“When you coach at high school, that’s bigger than football, to set them up for life,” said Moye. “Football, yes, but if football doesn’t work out being able to offer different avenues.
“Someone who taught me a lot about that was coach [Mike] Warfield. You could tell how much he cared about the kids. Guys came in to talk to the team weekly, just some of the things he was able to do as far as getting outside influences to come in and talk to the team, it’s huge. It shows how much he cared.”
While it’s great to build the chemistry now, the goal for the team appears to be pretty uniform: get to the playoffs.
Western Beaver’s last playoff win came in 2008 (Moye’s first year at Penn State) and have a record of 39-61 since 2008.
The Golden Beavers have lost in the first-round of the playoffs twice in 2013 and 2017 and were moved from Single A to Double A last season.
The Midwestern Conference appears to be up for grabs, and Western Beaver likes the position they’re in.
“We expect to make playoffs,” said Gray.
“Coach is a cool guy, he just wants us to succeed,” said Bradford. “We’re trying to make it to the playoffs, and try to go higher. At least make it to the WPIAL and win that. That’s what my hopes are, I hope that’s what everyone’s hopes are.”
This story originally appeared at our partner site, Pittsburgh Sports Now.
Steelers Maurkice Pouncey, Antonio Brown Selected to NFL All-2010s Team
Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey and former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown have been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s All-Decade team for the 2010’s, the organization announced on Monday.
Pouncey, who was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft, is entering his 12th season with the team this fall. The well-decorated veteran will add this honor to his eight Pro Bowls and five All-Pro selections.
Brown was also selected in the 2010 draft by the Steelers, as the club nabbed him in the sixth round out of Central Michigan. That proved to be a prescient investment. In his nine years with the Steelers, Brown amassed 11,207 receiving yards and 74 touchdowns, leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2014 and 2017, in receptions in 2014 and 2015 and in touchdowns in 2018. He was selected to seven Pro Bowls and was a five-time All-Pro choice before being traded to the Oakland Raiders in advance of the 2019 season.
The two selections represent the Steelers’ lowest number of representatives on an all-decade team since the 1960s, when the team did not have a representative.
Steelers had three selections to the all-2000s team: guard Alan Faneca, linebacker Joey Porter and safety Troy Polamalu. Center Dermontti Dawson, linebackers Kevin Greene, Hardy Nickerson and Levon Kirkland, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake were selected to the 1990s team. Cornerback Mel Blount, kicker Gary Anderson and head coach Chuck Noll were chosen in the 1980s. In the 1970s, wide receiver Lynn Swann, center Mike Webster, quarterback Terry Bradshaw, running back Franco Harris, defensive linemen L.C. Greenwood and Joe Greene, linebackers Jack Lambert and Jack Ham and Noll were all chosen.
Former Steelers Coach Woody Widenhofer Dies at 77
Former Steelers assistant coach and Butler, Pa. native Woody Widenhofer died at the age of 77 on Sunday, his son told the Tennessean.
Widenhofer coached the Steelers linebackers from 1973-78 and was the team’s defensive coordinator from 1979-83, winning four Super Bowls with the team.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Woody Widenhofer,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said in a press release. “Woody played an important role coaching our famed Steel Curtain defense when he helped us win four Super Bowls in the 1970s.
“He coached some of the best linebackers in NFL history during his time in Pittsburgh and was later elevated to defensive coordinator, where he guided the defense in our Super Bowl XIV victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
“A native of Butler, Woody will be missed by those who knew him and played under him. Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Widenhofer family.”
After his time with the Steelers, Widenhofer became a head coach in the USFL and with Missouri and Vanderbilt. He also served as defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions, Southeastern Louisiana and New Mexico State and was linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns.
Widenhofer retired from coaching in 2007. He is the second member of the 1970s Steelers coaching staff to die this year. Offensive and defensive line coach Dan Radakovich died in February.
Steelers to Face Cowboys in Hall of Fame Game
Officially announced today, The Steelers and Cowboys, two of the league’s most legendary franchises, will face off in this year’s preseason Hall of Fame game at Tom Benson HOF Stadium in Canton Ohio, August 06, 2020 at 8:00 PM.
Tickets will go on sale this Friday (3/13) at 10am ET. pic.twitter.com/uMSFIPWf3X
— Pro Football Hall of Fame (@ProFootballHOF) March 10, 2020
Tickets will go on sale starting Friday at 10 AM.
This will be each team’s seventh appearance in the Hall of Fame game, tied for the most of any franchise. Both teams also hold a 3-3 record in the glorified preseason game.
The last time the Steelers participated in the Hall of Fame game was 2015, the year running back Jerome Bettis was enshrined.
It comes as no surprise that the Steelers and Cowboys were selected for the Hall of Fame game considering the iconic figures they will each have inducted this year.
The Steelers will have head coach Bill Cowher and safety Troy Polamalu enshrined as a part of the Centennial Class of 2020, while the Cowboys will send former head coach Jimmie Johnson to Canton. Former Steelers safety Donnie Shell will also be inducted later as a part of the Hall of Fame Centennial Celebration in September.
Steelers and Cowboys is one of the NFL’s most storied rivalries. The franchises have met in three Super Bowls, with Pittsburgh taking the series edge 2-1.