McNair High School, which fired its football coach two days before the opener, dropped a 42-0 decision to Stephenson on Saturday.
The team’s former coach, Roderick Moore, sat in the crowd at Hallford Stadium and observed McNair’s worst loss to Stephenson since the two DeKalb schools began playing in 1998.
Stephenson, ranked No. 6 in Class AAAAA, led 21-0 after the first quarter over the unranked Mustangs, which are directed by interim coach John April.
“It was painful to watch, and I felt every ounce of the boys’ pain from up there in the stands,” Moore told the AJC on Sunday.
Moore, 40, was abruptly fired last Thursday after four seasons as McNair’s coach by the school’s principal, James Jones over “some issues, some concerns”, according to DeKalb School spokesman Dale Davis.
No further details were provided by the school; Moore said he was initially called to the principal’s office over “miscommunication” over having cooking grills on campus for a meal before a scrimmage, and then conversation “snowballed from there.” [Click here to see the previous blog on Moore's firing]
Last Friday, a group of around 100 supporters had a public meeting for an hour with Jones at McNair.
“I felt like most of the peope there, that very little answers were provided to the questions that were asked,” said Carlton Jackson, a former McNair player who graduated in 2003.
“Coach Moore laid out any infractions he may have committed. All were very minor, and none in my opinion warranted dismissal, especially two days before the season.”
Jones is standing by last week’s decision, and Moore has been relocated to Redan Middle School as a math teacher. “Nothing has changed,” Davis told the AJC on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Moore says he is still unclear about the reasons for his termination. “If it would have been something really bad, then I would’ve lost my teaching job along with my coaching job. The only person who can answer that question is Mr. Jones.”
Moore guided McNair to a 26-18 record, three appearances in the state playoffs, and helped nearly 60 players earn college scholarships. He was also an assistant coach at McNair for five years.
“I don’t know any details about the situation, but I feel bad for him, McNair’s program and football in general,” Stephenson coach Ron Gartrell said. “It kind of a black eye for all of us in the profession when you have a football coach getting dismissed from his program.”
Said Peachtree Ridge coach Bill Ballard, “[Moore] is a great person who spent a ton of time mentoring and helping those kids at McNair. If they didn’t have food, he’d get them food … so many little things like that.
“He was making a positive difference in the lives of a lot of young people, and I really think he’ll be missed in that community.”
In 2006, Moore made headlines around the state for helping 28 of 30 McNair seniors earn college scholarships.
On Sunday, Moore said he plans to attend the remainder of McNair’s Friday games to “support the kids.” On Saturdays, he is planning trips to go and watch as many former McNair players as possible playing in the college ranks. He also will begin applying for other football coaching jobs in December.
“I’m a coach, that’s what I do,” Moore said. “I love working with and helping young people. I’ve got to get back out there on the football field.”