Eric Moore has coached 229 football games at Center Grove with someone else’s son as the starting quarterback.
On Aug. 18, he’ll be trying for win No. 1 with his own.
Among the more intriguing storylines in the Trojans’ opener at Warren Central will be Moore’s son Jackson, a 6-foot-2 junior, running the Trojans’ wing-T offense.
A fixture on the Center Grove sideline during games most of his life, the younger Moore embraces everything that comes with directing the wing-T his father brought to Center Grove upon taking the job in 1999 — one year before Jackson was born.
Story continues below gallery
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play quarterback, especially for Center Grove,” Moore said. “I’ve grown up watching guys like Jordan Luallen, Joey Siderewicz and Jack Kellams perform, and I’ve always wanted to be a leader on the team.
“I like being able to control the offense. I’ve known it from such a young age, and love knowing where every route is going to be and just being able to make those big plays.”
Jackson Moore’s childhood idols were the players on his father’s roster at the time. The elder Moore laughs remembering the time Jackson invited some of his favorite Trojan standouts to his birthday party for cake.
Jackson was turning 5.
The junior even wears the No. 1 formerly donned by Siderewicz, the program’s starting quarterback the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
Whether it was Siderewicz behind center for the Trojans or predecessors such as Luke Calvert, Kody Kavanaugh, Luallen or Kyle Geiger, coach Moore believes that player is there to run the show, not be it.
He’s taking the same approach with his son.
“Being around so many other people’s sons who were starting quarterbacks, without sounding too unserious, (Jackson) is the starting quarterback for Center Grove,” Moore said. “My thoughts go into what can we do to make the quarterback for Center Grove better.
“I hardly ever look at it like it’s my kid out there. I know people probably don’t believe that, but the quarterback role here is a little different than at other places. We want to make the game where the quarterback doesn’t have to win the game for us. He just has to orchestrate the game for us.”
Jackson Moore played quarterback in the latter stages of three games last season — lopsided victories over Whiteland, North Central and Columbus North. He also held for Trojans kicker Luke Eckert on field goal and point-after kicks.
Eckert made good on 53 conversion attempts and eight field goal tries.
Coach Moore prefers to make practices difficult for his quarterbacks so games might seem easier by comparison. And, yes, he’s probably tougher on his current starter because it is his son.
“But I understand you can’t put a quarterback on the field who has no confidence,” Moore said.
First and foremost, Eric is Jackson’s father. There might be football-related dialogue during the car ride home, but once they arrive at the family’s residence, the dynamic immediately shifts from coach-player to dad-son.
Jackson understands the next two seasons will be, shall we say, different for his father. Nonetheless, he has envisioned being Center Grove’s varsity quarterback since bantam league and is working hard to make the most of the opportunity.
“Obviously there’s going to be some nerves just because I haven’t started a varsity game yet. And I’m sure there will be times when he’s like, ‘My son’s out there,’ ” Jackson said.
“But I think he can trust me enough where I know the plays well enough to tell everyone what to do and what the formation is.”