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Life on the Sidelines by Nancy Kolsti
Fall 2002      

story extras
Coach Moore's career record

Pilot Point

The winning formula

other features

Change of Leadership

High Fashion, High Art

The Freshman Experience

Life on the Sidelines


Separated by 14 miles of sprawling horse ranches, Celina in Collin County and Pilot Point in Denton County are typical small Texas towns.

Business owners leisurely begin their days drinking coffee in diners. Homeowners watch passing pickups and sunsets from front porches. Farmers sell fruit from roadside stands. Teens meet at the local Dairy Queen or pizza parlor, which are decorated with photos of the towns' high school football teams.

Pride in the Celina High School Bobcats and the Pilot Point Bearcats runs high.

At Friday evening home games, spectators in the towns' stadiums sometimes outnumber the residents of either Celina (population 1,800) or Pilot Point (population 3,500).

Longtime rivals, the Bobcats and Bearcats are playing in Class 3A, District 9, this season after competing in Class 2A for decades. In those decades, the football programs of both schools achieved tremendous success under the guidance of G.A. Moore ('62).

Chasing the record

The soft-spoken coach has won more games than any active Texas high school football coach. He attended high school in Pilot Point but considers Celina his home, too. He has spent all but three years of his career at either Pilot Point or Celina.

This fall, Moore may make history. At the start of the season, he needed only seven victories to break retired coach Gordon Wood's state record. Wood, whom Moore admired as a high school player, racked up 396 wins while coaching at Brownwood and Stamford high schools from the 1950s to the mid-1980s.

Moore began chasing Wood's record while leading the Celina Bobcats from 1988 to 2001. The team won five Class 2A state championships, including four straight from 1998 to 2001. In October 1998, the Bobcats began the longest winning streak in Texas high school football history — 57 wins by the end of the 2001 season.

Moore was so popular that 107 of Celina High School's 195 male students tried out for the team in August 2001. Weekly booster club meetings, held at 5:30 a.m. on weekdays, attracted 60 to 80 people, including many who had no ties to the school.

With Wood's record in reach, the coach could have easily stayed at Celina.

Back to Pilot Point

2001 Class 2A State Championship

2001 Class 2A State

Instead, he left earlier this year to rebuild the Pilot Point football program.

Moore says choosing between the two schools to break his old idol's record was difficult for him. During the 2001 season at Celina, however, he witnessed the turmoil within Pilot Point's football program.

Early in the season, 15 Pilot Point players quit over dissatisfaction with their coach. All but one eventually returned to the team. The Pilot Point Bearcats had a losing record in district play for the season and were not in the playoffs for the first time since 1978.

When the Pilot Point coach was fired at the end of the 2001 season, “I just felt like the good Lord made the decision for me to return,” Moore says.

But he acknowledges that coaching is more than winning games.

“When you're a young coach, you idolize successful people in football, but as you mature, you realize that the number of wins and losses is not the most important thing. The players are. They are still 16-, 17- and 18-year-old kids who need guidance and calming,” he says.

He proudly lists the universities where his former players are now playing — the University of Texas at Austin, Oklahoma State and other nationally ranked football powerhouses.

Moore says his last tenure at Celina was like a dream.

“Seeing players go on to great things is one of the best rewards of coaching,” he says.

Coach Mitchell's influence

Sitting in his office at Pilot Point High School's field house, Moore evokes fatherly images of Tom Landry. His former players report that he is authoritative, yet polite, in the locker room.

It's a technique Moore took from North Texas head football coach Odus Mitchell.

“He didn't holler, fuss or cuss, but you knew where you stood with him,” Moore says.

Moore grew up eight miles south of Pilot Point in Mustang, a town so small it isn't listed on maps. His family has owned a ranch there for more than a century.

Moore met Mitchell while playing football for Pilot Point High School.

“One of my best friends, Vernon Cole ('60), played for him. I always felt very comfortable going to Coach Mitchell's house and playing pingpong,” he says. "There was no question that I wanted to play for him.”

He became a running back and defensive back for the Eagles. After a broken arm ended his career in 1959, Moore focused on coaching.

Early days

In 1962, he landed his first job at Bryson, a small town in Jack County. The school played eight-man football, which Moore had never seen. He taught history and learned about the game.

The next year, Moore began his first tenure as head coach at Pilot Point. He led the Bearcats to eight winning seasons but almost left coaching behind when he resigned to be a middle school principal in Celina.

“I also thought I would go into the ministry, but in the spring of 1972, Celina needed a head football coach, and I was asked to take the job,” Moore says.

In five seasons with Moore as head coach, the Celina Bobcats compiled a 52-5-2 record and tied for a state championship.

Moore left Celina in 1977 to return to Pilot Point as head coach. In 1980, the Bearcats shared the Class 2A state championship with the Tidehaven Tigers and claimed it outright in 1981.

In 1988, Moore once again became the head coach at Celina. Ten years later his team began its historic four-year winning streak.

True success

But Moore isn't resting on past laurels this season. Instead, he's working 14-hour days to rebuild Pilot Point's football program. The team practices for two hours in the afternoon. Before practice, Moore spends his days planning the workouts, meeting with his coaching staff and studying game tapes.

During the off-season, Moore must schedule strength conditioning and other workouts around Pilot Point's other sports. As in other smaller high schools, football players often compete in several sports.

“In the spring, some players work out for track in the morning, then go to baseball practice in the afternoon,” Moore says.

Even if he doesn't end the 2002 season by eclipsing Wood as the Texas high school coach with the most wins, Moore will be happy as long as his players are happy.

“My main goal this year is to get the kids back in the program and make it fun for them,” he says.

And if the Bearcats have a losing season, Moore will have no regrets except the one he has every season — spending little time with family.

“Coaching is the most terrible job in the world if you don't enjoy it,” he says. “I've been awfully blessed. I couldn't have asked for a better plan for life.”

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