Tom Moore was named head coach of the Warren County High School football program before Christmas break. He was hired by Warren County athletic director Todd Willmore after the untimely departure of the former head coach after only one season. Moore is the third coach in the last three years for Warren County.
Moore played for Vanderbilt in the early 1980s where he was a captain on defense. In 1985, he was hired at his high school alma mater, MBA, where he played quarterback prior to college. After attending graduate school at the University of Tennessee, he came back in 1994 with coach Ricky Bowers at Ensworth. He then moved to Brentwood Academy in 1999 to be the successor of the football program from former coach Carlton Flatt. Brentwood Academy made it to the championship game two years under Moore’s leadership.
Coach Moore recently sat down with the Southern Standard to discuss his plans for the future of Warren County football and what it will take to get it back on its feet.
“I could have gone somewhere else, but I came to Warren County because I wanted to,” said Moore of his decision to accept the position.
Moore came into his job interview and met with Director of Schools Bobby Cox, Willmore, and WCHS executive principal Jimmy Walker. What Moore remembers most was when Walker shook his hand and said, “We just want to get better, we want to be successful.” Moore said he knew it was time to make the move to Warren County.
“I have known about Warren County for several years now. Todd Willmore and I have been friends for about 30 years now after meeting in college at Vanderbilt University,” said Moore. “We had talked about the position previously but the timing just wasn’t right for me.”
Making this time different, Moore says he discussed the coaching job at Warren County with former Brentwood Academy coach Carlton Flatt and they thought the Pioneer football program could be a “sleeping giant,” with kids really hungry for football.
Moore says he is up for a challenge.
“I believe this is an opportunity to be involved in something very special,” Moore said. “I know a lot of guys would be scared to play in the new district, but I think it will be a great challenge and make our kids better. We must get better.”
The No. 1 thing Moore wants to to do in Warren County is to get stronger. Toward that endeavor, Warren County is going to bring in Scott Perkinson from Ensworth to train the coaches. Perkinson holds a master’s degree in human performance and sports studies from the University of Tennessee.
“Perkinson is going to teach kids who are not fast how to get fast and how to be more athletic,” said Moore. “Change won’t come overnight and they will have to stick with us. You cannot go from mediocre to strong overnight. I wrote on my wall when I arrived in Warren County: “Be Patient. There is no reason Warren County can’t be stronger.”
Moore went on to say “I know these kids don’t trust me yet. I have only met with them once since my hiring, I want them to know I care about them.”
Moore says he plans on running a 3-4 defense and line up on the ball.
“I have been very successful everywhere I’ve been with a 3-4 defense. The coaches have to put kids on the corner who won’t get beat on the deep ball. Then if our kids will line up correctly and run after the ball, we will be fine. Some people practice offense 75 percent of the time, but all the good coaches I know practice defense first. It is not glamourous or sexy, but it will win ball games.”
Being new on the job, offense is still unknown.
“It is hard to say without seeing what there is to work with. I feel like Warren County needs to spread the ball around more and use a tight end. I would also like to throw the ball to our fullback,” said Moore when questioned about offense.
The Pioneers have a quarterback returning in Christian Wilkinson who can throw the ball. Wilkinson threw for just over a 1,000 yards in 2014, but the Pioneers lost a couple of talented receivers, Malik Ladet and Adrian Lusk.
The Pioneers also have Rickie King at running back and Jordan Bonner at fullback returning who combined for over 500 yards rushing in 2014. Ethan Stuart, who is strong and can move his feet, looks to become the foundation of the offensive line.
Any new assistant coaches from outside the area are unlikely, according to Moore.
“I’ve talked to a few assistant coaches outside the area but I don’t believe I will be able to find any who would be willing to commute just for a high school football program,” said Moore. “I feel like the Pioneers have competent coaches already on staff. These coaches are willing to do what it takes and to put in the time and work to win and they also have the passion for the sport.”
This interview to introduce himself to the community is only the beginning. Moore says he can’t wait to meet fans of the sport and principals at the county schools.
“Warren County has such a great fan base,” Moore said. “I want to meet the kids, parents, and kids who are not playing football, but are playing other sports. I want to go to Warren County Middle School and elementary schools and meet with principals and see how many kids the Pioneers can get interested in the football program. Thirty years ago kids just played. Now, we have to reach out to kids.”
The Pioneers are going to establish football camps in the spring to see if they can gain more interest in the program.
Coach Moore added, “I know people will judge us by what we do, and not what we say. That is how I want people to judge our team as well. We are going to show it in our work habits. Coach Tim Corbin for Vanderbilt has a saying that I really like. It’s ‘Do what we ask you to do, with the best attitude.’”