In Honor of Edwin Lee Moore, Teacher-Coach
Edwin Lee Moore a football offensive genius if there ever was one, graduated WHS in 1941. Moore was a “utility back” (which meant he could play any position in the offensive backfield, one as good as the other, and thus moved around as needed). His coach Follace Fields described him as having a fancy deceptive running style (Mountain Eagle) to paraphrase. His senior year he, along with Honorable Mention All-State Guard F. Byrd Hogg (later to become Letcher County Circuit Court Judge), and Capt. Walker Pigman, led the Yellowjackets to one of their better teams of that era.
After graduation, Moore was drafted into the Navy where he volunteered for the Marines and was stationed for a while at the Great Lakes Naval Base in Michigan. During his training he played for the base military Teams that played against each other.
Moore’s playing and coaching style was shaped by two men, Knute Rockne, the legendary Notre Dame coach (the movie “Knute Rockne All-American” was released during his senior year of high school) and Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch, running back of University of Wisconsin/University of Michigan, and later end for the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL. Elroy Hirsch, a native of Wisconsin, was a sensation as a freshman running back at University of Wisconsin, and then was drafted into the Navy in the Entertainment Department. He was stationed at the Great Lakes Base where he would attend University of Michigan classes by day and play football on Saturdays for the Wolverines. When Hirsch asked the Navy how he could do this since he had never applied for admission to Michigan, and the NCAA required all transfer players from one major college to another to sit out one season, he was told by the Navy not to worry, it was all taken care of! Why? To provide entertainment and morale to the sailors stationed at the Great Lakes Base. Hirsch would eventually be named All-American.
Moore was fascinated watching Hirsch play home games during his stay there. He would emulate both Rockne and Hirsch much in his future playing and coaching. After his overseas duty and discharge from the Marines, Moore played college football for the Georgetown Tigers where he scored some points there, as did his predecessor Ray Pigman of WHS.
There seem to be little or no records left as information from Georgetown College was conflicting on both players, probably not too many since Moore told me there were so few small colleges to play in Kentucky and surrounding area that they were often forced to play much larger colleges such as Xavier of Ohio and U.S. military bases’ teams that often played ex-college players. The best record found was an old Courier- Journal article honoring Georgetown seniors, which described Moore as one of the flashiest and fanciest ball carriers ever to play at the school, or something of the sort, much like his high school coach had described him.
Moore began his coaching career at Lynch High School in 1951 as backfield coach. In 1952 he was hired at WHS as head coach after Ray Pigman stepped down, but continued to coach the basketball team. From 1952 through the 1960 season Moore teams would win the Eastern Kentucky Mountain Conference (EKMC) once in ‘53 and be named runner-up 3 times, in ‘54, ‘55 and ‘59, a truly remarkable record! He would also mold some of finest running backs to come out the whole area such as Buddy Fields ‘54 3rd Team All- State, ( Tennessee/ Morehead-3rd Team Ohio Valley Conference) Robert Meade ‘55 2nd Team All- down the house. State (got married did not go to college also suffered from asthma), Lloyd Hodge ‘ 56 1st Team All- State (Kentucky-3rd Team All Southeastern Conference, AP Honorable Mention All-American and played in The Blue-Gray College All- Star game), Bobby Kincer ‘53 (Honorable Mention All-State-Morehead), Roger Kincer ‘59 (3rd Team All- State and Kentucky’ state scoring champion with 214 points-Eastern Kentucky University on track scholarship, did not wish to play football). The same year, ‘59 running back Ronnie Frazier turned down a scholarship to Morehead (married in high school). I had the privilege of playing with both Roger Kincer and Ronnie Frazier my freshman year; they were a great duo 1-2 punch.
Ed Moore returned to coaching at WHS in ‘66, ‘67 and ‘68 as offensive coordinator under head coach Walt Thomas Jr. Coach Moore died of cancer in 1974-75 school year at age 51 where he still taught science.
(The above tribute was written by one of Coach Moore’s former players, Mr. Roe Wright.)
From the November, 1955 Black Kat: The Black Kat staff dedicates this November 1955 issue to our Coach, Mr. Ed L. Moore, and his Yellowjacket squad, for the thrilling games they furnished us during the season; for the 8 wonderful wins; for the publicity and praise you brought to Whitesburg High School and for being the wonderful boys you are.
Dudley Webb had this to say about the coaches: “I think that both Coach Moore and his assistants will be remembered for not only being great football players for Whitesburg High School, but for also later returning to lead its football program for those many years. I think that I can speak for most of their players when I say that many of our fondest memories are of those times.”
The following is from Martin Lewis, who was on this team: Ed Moore’s last football team was the 1960 Yellowjackets. It was also the last year Walter Enlow coached as he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
A good season was anticipated as the prior season’s teamhada9win2 loss season, winning most games by large margins, and many of the returning players had gained experience late in games. Returning lettermen included seniors Kenneth Hall, Buck Sparks, Stevie Stamper, Martin Lewis, Pete Frazier, Ronnie Amburgey, Roger Day, Tebo Hodge and Pete White and juniors Kenneth Frazier, Kyle Raleigh and Wilgus Sturgill.
The team suffered a number of setbacks even before practice began. (1) James Gose, an assistant coach and motivator the prior year, had to return to college to finish his teaching certificate. (2) A portable tent skating rink came to town. Most of the players had never been on skates, but it sure was fun to try! Many players were seen flying over the railing or falling awkwardly. Unfortunately, by the start of the season Martin Lewis had injured both knees, Kenneth Hall had broken an arm, and Stevie Stamper had injured his back among other injuries. (3) Injuries continued as Arnold Frazier was injured the last practice before the opening game; projected starting quarterback Kenneth Frazier broke an arm in preseason practice; and Wilgus Sturgill suffered a serious back injury during the season.
The opening game starting lineup consisted of Windle Sparks at center, Ronnie Amburgey and Billy Dean Adams at guards; Hiram Wright and Pete Frazier at tackles; and Kyle Raleigh and Wilgus Sturgill at ends. The backfield had Roger Day at quarterback; Stevie Stamper and Tebo Hodge at halfbacks; and Kenneth Hall at fullback (with arm in cast). Others who started or played key reserve roles during the year included Martin Lewis, Fulton Combs, Newton Sexton, Jimmy Stamper, Kenneth Frazier, Eddie Kincer, David Sturgill, Dud Webb, Pete White and Gary “Round Man” Trent.
The 1974 Yellow Jacket yearbook expressed the feelings of the students, faculty and the community for Ed Moore in the following dedication: “The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”-William James- The measure of his teaching is what he is doing. The success of his coaching is the number of boys whom he inspired to be men. Truth, honor, example he is . . . More than he seems he is . . . He expresses his life by what he does. Today we recognize and appreciate the past, present and future endeavors of Edwin Lee Moore.