Mike Moore is no stranger to football sidelines, and no stranger to coaching — he has coached at both the high school and collegiate level. This week, the Newton Board of Education approved hiring Moore as an assistant for the football program — helping first-year coach Chris Jaax.
"I tell people that Mike is coaching with us, and they ask what that is like," Jaax said. "I say he is more qualified for this than I am. ... He is very skilled and can help us build this program. He understands how to lead kids, motivate kids, how to communicate with parents and how to communicate with parents."
Moore will serve as Defensive coordinator and Associate Head Coach. He will also assist with special teams. He told The Kansan helping to build a “winning culture” was why he approached Jaax about coaching this fall.
“When I was a sophomore in high school we were 1-8 and we were not very good. We did not fully understand the culture of what it took to be successful,” Moore said. “A new coach came in. My junior year we were 9-4 and lost in the substate championship game. … That experience for me was a turnng point in my life.”
Jaax comes to Newton from Bishop Carroll, where he served as offensive coordinator, special teams coordinator, offensive line, wide receivers, tight ends and linebackers in a 10-year span. He also served as head junior varsity coach.
"Mike being a part of the program is phenominal," Jaax said. "... It is one of things, we want to put together the very best coaching staff we can, not only for coaching but for mentorship. We want people that the kids' parents trust their sons with. I think Mike is a great asset for all of this."
Jaax takes over a team that has two players who have made NCAA Div. I commitments, but finished just 1-8 last year.
“This is a team that has some talent, but a team that has not seen a whole lot of success. As we work with the team and the culture of the team, it could be a long process,” Moore said. “It is a long-term commitment to turn the program around. Coach Jaax has that commitment.”
Moore coached 13 seasons at Bethel, 10 as head coach for the Threshers. He resigned after the 2009 season. At the time, he told The Kansan he wanted to spend more time with his family. His children have aged — his oldest is now a senior in college. His middle child is a sophomore in college, and his youngest is a senior at Newton High School.
The youngest was part of the draw to put him back on the sideline this fall.
“I have son that will be a senior. I wanted to find a way to help him, and the entire program, to have a great experience with high school football,” Moore said. “I don't have the means to come in and make a huge difference, but if I can do something to help, that is what I want to do.”
He also has watched each freshman class at Newton High School get smaller — a trend not only in Newton but other schools across the nation. It is something he wants to change.
At Bethel Moore was 47-51 as a head coach. He was an assistant at Bethel when he took over the head coaching spot on an interim basis in 1999 when George Papageoriou resigned as head coach eight games into the season.
Moore’s best seasons came in 2006 and 2007, when the Threshers were Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference co-champions. The 2006 team finished 9-2 and earned the school’s second-ever National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics post-season berth, falling on the road to Missouri Valley College.
The 2007 team finished 8-1.
Moore’s 47 wins are third all-time, trailing Kent Rogers at 69 (1979 to 1994 ) and Otto Unruh at 53 (1919 to 1942 and 1967 to 1969).
Moore was named KCAC coach of the year in 2000 and 2006. He was a finalist for the NAIA coach of the year award in 2006. He coached two KCAC offensive players of the year, two KCAC defensive players of the year and five KCAC special teams players of the year.
Moore coached a total of 22 NAIA Academic All-Americans and nine NAIA All-Americans, including two first-team selections. Two teams were named to the American Football Coaches Association Good Works Team.
Moore played two years at Dodge City Community College and two years at Kansas State. He began coaching at McPherson High School. He also spent a season coaching at the University of Nebraska-Omaha.
Moore served as defensive coordinator at Bethel from 1997 to 1999. Moore’s team won the final two games of the 1999 season as interim head coach.
All of that, however, is history. Moore is now charged with being an assistant coach. He has done that in the past — serving as an assistant in both the high school and collegiate ranks.
“I have to remind myself 'this is not your program.' Coach Jaax and I have had some conversations about that. … We share a lot of similar beliefs,” Moore said. “I will provide as much or as little input as coach Jaax asks for. I will make sure that players are ready to play on Friday. … We want to see what these young men will be 20 years from now. That is our main goal — we want them to be better sons, better husbands and better fathers.”