By Steve Williams
Assistant coaches in high school football often go unnoticed and unheralded, until they are gone.
Usually fans only see and hear the head coach, the face and voice of their team.
Most assistants are satisfied with the role they have, working behind the scenes with the players. They are the nuts and bolts of the program.
Clyde Moore Sr. was an assistant coach at Carter High for 21 years until complications from diabetes ended his life here on earth Sept. 18. The 64-year-old Moore also worked as an Engineering Associate at KUB for 42 years.
Although his death was heartbreaking for many in the Carter family, it seems fitting his last public appearance was on the football field at Carter in the Hornets’ Week 2 game Aug. 30.
“Coach Moore was struggling that night,” recalled Jewel Brock, Carter’s athletic director, during the Hornets’ game against Halls in Week 5 and three days after his passing. “In the second quarter of the game against Campbell County, they took him to the hospital and he’d been in it ever since.”
Moore became a fixture in the Carter football program, having served as an assistant under eight head coaches since the late 1990s.
“He related with the kids and was a holdover for a lot of (new) head coaches” when changes occurred, said Brock. Moore worked on the staffs of current head coach Scott Meadows, interim head coach Vic Wharton, Derek Witt, Jeff McMillan, Heath Woods, Kevin Catlett and Bobby Kimball.
Catlett elevated Moore to Carter Middle School head coach and freshmen coach in 1998.
Moore got his feet wet coaching in the Baby Roadrunners’ youth program in the mid-1980s and also coached the Alice Bell midget team and Austin-East’s middle school team on the recreation level.
“Clyde Moore was the epitome of a Hornet and a Hornet for Life,” said Carter Principal Angie Messer on the night Moore was remembered prior to the Rivalry Thursday TV game against Halls. “He spent his life right here on this field. He would rather be here than anywhere and I think that’s proof with his family choosing to come tonight in honor of Clyde, to represent and be here for him.”
Earlier that evening, a moment of silence was held in memory of Moore and a football signed by the Carter players was presented to Moore’s family, including his wife Tina.
“He will be sorely missed,” added Messer. “Every single player he ever coached loved Coach Clyde. His passion for coaching these young men and developing these young men into young adults was just what he was made to do.
“We love him and will miss him.”
Messer recalled going to the field house when she became band director at Carter in 2001. “Clyde was the first football coach I met. He opened the door. He’s been kind and nice to me ever since. He was never too tired or too busy.”
Raymond Wynn, the school’s Sports Information Director, added Moore also was the type of coach who cared about a player’s needs on and off the field. If a player was short on money for something important, he would reach into his own pocket and help.
During a preseason practice this past summer, I took some pictures of Coach Moore working with defensive linemen in a drill. He was coaching from an electric wheelchair due to having lost part of his left leg to diabetes about five years ago.
I noticed he wanted the younger players to get their techniques right and when some didn’t, he stopped the drill and patiently explained what needed to be corrected. He didn’t raise his voice. He just communicated and got his point across.
Having been a TSSAA football official for some 20 years and working a few of Coach Moore’s games on the JV and varsity levels, we also renewed our relationship during a break in practice that afternoon. I took some notes with the idea of doing a feature on Coach Moore in the future.
Moore recalled being a defensive tackle under Coach Hoyt Carroll at Holston High in the fall of 1972.
He also told me his son, Clyde Jr., a former Carter running back, had been a detective with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department since 2005, and his grandson, Davontae, who also was a running back for the Hornets, was now Carter’s running backs coach. I could tell he was very proud of both.
About a month later, Coach Moore was gone, and as I walked to the field the night Carter was in the close game with unbeaten Halls, I could sense the Hornets were playing for him. My feelings were confirmed after a field goal attempt fell just short in the game’s closing moments and Halls held on for a 19-18 win.
“My hat’s off to Carter,” said Halls Coach Scott Cummings. “After what they’ve been through this week, to come out here and battle like they did, they had our number tonight.”
Coach Meadows was asked what he had told the Hornets before the game.
“The biggest thing was ‘You’re playing for Clyde.’ Clyde loved this community and loved these kids and the only thing he ever asked from them to do was just give him effort.”
Carter High basketball great and UT player Jordan Bowden made the official coin toss for the Rivalry Thursday game and was interviewed during the telecast. He had known Coach Moore as a youngster growing up.
“Coach Moore, he’s always been close to me,” said Bowden. “Davontae and I actually grew up together. I’ve always been around their household. They took me in as one of theirs, so it means a lot to me to come back and support this moment. I hope they get the win tonight for him. But he’s in a better place now.”
Although the Hornets just missed getting the win that night, Coach Moore would have been proud of their effort.
The Hornets continue to honor Coach Moore with “CM” memorial stickers on their helmets. No doubt what’s in their minds and hearts is even more inspiring.