Penn State, Rochester product Derek Moye takes over Western Beaver
By: Charles Curti
Saturday, August 10, 2019 | 9:27 PM
Derek Moye walked into the office of Western Beaver athletic director Ryan Matsook to check on preparations for the upcoming football season. Moye was informed some equipment had arrived, and Matsook presented him with a large cardboard box.
Moye, the Golden Beavers’ first-year coach, hoisted the box up his still-athletic 6-foot-5 frame and lugged it to the locker room. There, he surveyed the work being done to spruce up the facility. New helmets and uniforms were stashed in various corners amid the construction.
This was the part of the job Moye didn’t bargain for.
“There’s a lot of back-end stuff that you don’t really think about or take into consideration,” he said. “Fixing up stuff in the locker room. Ordering clothes and having to keep track of inventory for equipment. Answering questions from parents.
“There’s a lot of stuff that has nothing to do with football that’s part of the job.”
Soon, however, Moye can focus on what goes on between the lines. The Golden Beavers open camp Monday with the rest of the WPIAL.
At that point, the 31-year-old will be back in his element.
A standout in football and track and field at Rochester, Moye played at Penn State, where he caught 144 passes for 2,395 yards and 18 touchdowns. He then spent parts of the 2012-14 NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans organizations, catching his only NFL TD pass with the Steelers in 2013.
Since the end of his playing career, Moye has been running his own speed-training business in Cranberry. (“Running is the baseline of all sports, but you’re never really taught how to run,” he said.)
But football remained in his blood. He got back on the sidelines last season when he coached the receivers for PIAA Class 3A champion Aliquippa.
That one experience might not seem like enough to qualify someone to be a head coach. Matsook said Moye’s hiring went beyond X’s and O’s on a clipboard. His personality and demeanor, Matsook said, would be ideal for getting the most out of the co-oped team of Western Beaver and Lincoln Park kids.
“In my years of coaching, he was the most meticulous and detail-oriented kid I have ever been around,” said Matsook, a former Rochester assistant who has known Moye since Moye was 6. “He’s always doing the little things.
“Derek didn’t always run around with the alpha dogs. He was tight with everyone on the team. If you show kids you care about them and are taking a vested interest in their well-being, they’re going to respond to that. I hope it pays dividends in the fall, but I don’t put any type of expectations that this is some overnight fix.”
Senior offensive lineman/linebacker Zach Altenbaugh said he didn’t know a lot about Moye when he heard about the hire. Some quick research told him all he needed to know.
“I thought it was going to be really cool to get a coach with that kind of (playing) experience,” he said.
Playing is one thing. Coaching is another.
One of the biggest tasks ahead of Moye is establishing and perpetuating a winning culture at Western Beaver. Golden Beavers teams of recent vintage have had success only in spurts.
Moye, meanwhile, has known nothing but success during his time around football. His Rochester teams were perennial WPIAL title contenders, often beating up on conference opponent Western Beaver along the way. His Penn State teams (2008-11) won 38 games and finished in the top 10 twice in the final AP poll. And he spent two seasons with the Steelers, one of the NFL’s most accomplished franchises.
All that on top of his season with high school football juggernaut Aliquippa.
He found out quickly Western Beaver was going to be different.
During one of the early meetings with his players, Moye asked what their expectations were for the season. Some responded half-heartedly about making the playoffs. Others said they wanted to win their home games.
“It’s kind of a difficult challenge trying to establish that culture in a new organization or a new program, wanting to bring in what you’re used to,” Moye said. “Anytime as a competitor you step on a competitive playing surface, you expect to win.
“That’s always been the attitude I’ve had and always been the attitude of teams I have been a part of. I know that’s not the attitude that’s here. But I do think we have a good group of guys to get that started.”
At the same time, Moye said he wants to be careful not to overwhelm his players. Elite athletes who become coaches often lack the patience to cope with the shortcomings of those who don’t share their abilities and drive.
Moye insisted he won’t make that mistake.
“I have to remind myself of that sometimes,” he said, “one, because of the level I played at both collegiately and professionally. And, two, my only coaching experience was last year with Aliquippa … and we had five guys that could potentially go D-I.
“That’s not going to be the case for us this year. It’s going to be … I won’t say taking back expectations because that’s not something I want to do. Just being patient and knowing it’s a process.”
That process begins Monday when Moye finally can get down to football. Time for the grind of two-a-days in the summer heat, implementing schemes, getting his players up to speed on strategy and the playbook.
It all sounds daunting for a young man with such limited coaching experience. Moye, however, insisted it will be less taxing than toting oversized cardboard boxes and straightening up a locker room.
“I was dreading setting everything up (for camp),” he said with a laugh. “Camp will be the easy part.”