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Catching Up With
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2022-03-23

Steve Moyer

            Later this year, Steve Moyer will embark on his 50th season as a football coach.

Steve Moyer

Despite retiring as a teacher at Upper Perkiomen 17 years ago, he hasn't been able to give up the game.

            In August, Moyer begins his sixth season as an assistant coach at Spring-Ford. He says the position has helped him feel young.

            "The basic tenets of the game have not changed," Moyer said. "I feel like I can still relate to the kids. We're on the same wavelength. Hopefully they can look at me and learn something."

            Moyer, who grew up in Pennsburg, has plenty of football experience to draw on. The 1968 graduate of Upper Perkiomen helped lead his team to a Bux-Mont League title, then earned a scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh.

            After graduating as the Panthers' all-time leading receiver, Moyer flirted with the idea of trying out for the NFL. He considered hiring legal representation but declined to sign as a free agent.  He had just married his high school sweetheart and wanted to start his coaching career.

            Beginning with a one-year stint as an assistant Bethlehem Freedom, Moyer served as head coach at two other high schools. He spent 13 years at Red Land before coming home to lead the Indians.

            During two stints with the Tribe – initially from 1986 to 1998, then in 2012 and 2013 following a two-year stint as an assistant to Keith Leamer – he led the team to the Pioneer Athletic Conference title in 1997. Moyer described the thrill of coaching that team, which included his son Jeff playing quarterback, as the pinnacle of his career.

            "It was a great group of kids, and they were a real pleasure to coach," he wrote. "To this day, I will occasionally put in the highlight DVD of that year and reminisce."

            In between, he spent 10 seasons as an assistant at Kutztown University. Moyer – who served as the offensive coordinator, as well as coaching quarterbacks and wide receivers – worked on the staff with Bill Keeny, his former head coach at Upper Perkiomen, and for Keeny's son Dave.

            Before returning to Upper Perkiomen, Moyer – who retired in 2005 from the district following a 33-year career as a social studies teacher – took a job as an assistant at Shady Side Academy. He spent three seasons at the private school in Pittsburgh before relocating to Pottstown. He joined the staff of Spring-Ford head coach Chad Brubaker for the start of the 2014 season and has coached the quarterbacks, running backs and cornerbacks.

            As a high school athlete, he won nine athletic letters in four sports. Moyer's greatest impact came on the football field, where he helped lead the Indians to their first outright league title during his junior year. He played running back and wide receiver for the team.

            Several Division I schools – including Penn State, Virginia, Duke and Iowa State – recruited Moyer. He said Pitt, which played more of a national schedule than some of the other teams, showed the earliest and most interest in him.  "I was excited to play college football," Moyer said. "It was a dream."

            In three seasons with the Panthers, he caught 117 passes for 1,271 yards and scored eight touchdowns. Moyer graduated as the all-time leader in receptions and is currently ranked No. 16 overall. In 1969 – his first season – he caught 48 passes, two short of the school record that was set one season earlier.

            Moyer, who posted a 4.7-second time in the 40-yard draft during his workout for NFL scouts following the 1971 season, said a lack of speed kept him from being selected in the 1972 draft. A scout from the Detroit Lions extended him an invitation to preseason camp on a free agent contract.

            "I often wondered what would have happened if I would have signed as a free agent," Moyer said. "But I just wasn't that fast. One of the scouts told me that if I had been at 4.5 seconds, I would have been on everyone's list."

 

Jim Young

            A chance meeting with his former high school basketball coach, less than two

Steve Young

years after graduating from Upper Perkiomen, set Jim Young on a career in education. He describes Steve Ruby as a father figure and a mentor.

            "He's been the biggest influencer on my life," Young said.

            During 35 years as a teacher and counselor in the Coatesville and Spring-Ford school districts, Young has followed in Ruby's footsteps. The two, who remain friends, occasionally meet for lunch.

            Young coached boys high school basketball in both districts. He covered every sport at multiple levels. The Red Hill native served as a coach in 44 seasons over his career.

            At Coatesville High School, he led the JV team to an 88-22 record from 1981 through 1986, including a 20-0 record in 1984-85. Young served as a varsity assistant at Spring-Ford for 13 seasons before leading Pottsgrove in 2003-04.

            Young claims he used coaching as a vehicle to get into teaching. He said it used to be an effective method to earn a job in a district.  "I loved it," said Young, a 1966 graduate of Upper Perkiomen. "Coaching was a much more informal way of helping kids. You're able to provide the same amount of values as teaching."

            Young's life lacked direction when he bumped into Ruby. He had been working for a masonry company in Hereford for 18 months following a brief foray at broadcasting school in Washington, D.C.

            He lasted only three days at the school. Young, who wanted to be a sports broadcaster, said he only remembers arriving in Washington, D.C. on the train and returning home. "It was kind of a blur," he said.

            The coach suggested that his former player go into teaching. Ruby invited Young to work as a counselor at his summer basketball camp in the Poconos. Then, the coach and some of Young's friends implored him to enroll in a community college.

            Young bonded with Ruby during a successful run for the Tribe's basketball team that won the 1964-65 Bux-Mont League championship and made a deep run into the District One playoffs. The team played unbelievably good man-to-man defense during the run to the semifinals despite having four starters who were football players, according toYoung.

            As a three-year starter at point guard, Young said the coach ordered him to shoot only as a last resort. The player had no issue distributing the ball to more effective scorers.

            During Young's junior season, the Indians opened districts with a 62-52 victory, over Upper Dublin. They followed with a 48-46 win over Springfield Delco, which included future two-time Portland Trailblazers all-star Geoff Petrie (who averaged 21.8 ppg in six NBA seasons), on Rusty Engle's mid-range jumper with three seconds left.

            "For us to do what we did was beyond comprehension," Young said. "Everyone called us farmers."

            The victory propelled the Tribe to a semifinal round meeting with Chester at the Palestra in Philadelphia. However, a 70-50 loss to the undefeated Clippers in the famous arena on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania ended its season.

            The players on the team were always in shape, according to Young. He said Ruby required them to run cross country. Young also sprinted for the track team. "I loved running," said Young, who came in third in the quarter-mile a handful of years ago at the Senior Games in Lincoln, Nebraska.

            Several years into retirement, Young remains close to basketball. This past season, he kept the book for the Downingtown West girls basketball team, which is coached by his son Mike.

            The elder Young returned to the bench for two games, coaching the Whippets after Mike Young and his assistant contracted COVID-19. Under his leadership, they defeated West Chester East and lost to Downingtown East.

 

 


 

 

 

 

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