Moore emphasizes toughness, effort for Tiger offseason

Chris Easterling
Updated: Wednesday, May 3, 2017
Massillon coach Nate Moore, center right, looks on as Alabama coach Nick Saban talks to a pair of fans during Wednesday's Spring Kickoff.<br /><div id="dfp-300x250" style="float:right;"><script type="text/javascript">googletag.display("dfp-300x250");</script></div>
Massillon coach Nate Moore, center right, looks on as Alabama coach Nick Saban talks to a pair of fans during Wednesday's Spring Kickoff.


MASSILLON

It was a rhetorical question that Massillon football coach Nate Moore posed to the crowd at the end of Wednesday night's Spring Kickoff at the Knights of Columbus. It's a question the third-year coach knew the answer to, and was certain the audience knew as well.

What Moore, though, is counting on is that the players who will make or break the Tigers' 2017 season this fall know the answer as well.

"Why do less-talented teams succeed?," Moore said. "Why does that happen? Why does a 5(-foot-)9, 230-pound kid kick the butt of a guy who's 6-4, 250? How does that happen? ... It's hard work; it's toughness. It's being willing to sacrifice and being to do the work for other guys. That's our culture; that's who we are."

Neither Moore nor any of his assistants who spoke on Wednesday denied the Massillon team which will take the field at Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Aug. 25 to open the season against Mentor will look different than the one which walked off the field after last fall's playoff loss to Dublin Scioto. Many of that team's most physically-imposing players will be firmly entrenched in their respective college programs.

However, what every coach who spoke made abundantly clear is that they aren't letting that be some sort of crutch upon which this year's players can rest.

"We're going to build off the expectations and the results of the last few years," offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Jon Mazur said. "We want to keep taking steps. Just because we have new guys coming in, that's not an expectation for inexperience or a step down. That's a new guy coming in for an opportunity to do that job. That's the expectation we've created, and the kids understand that and they've carried that over into this offseason."

It's that offseason work that has those who will coach the players excited about the potential that those players can bring to the field. The one thing each coach spoke glowingly about was the work ethic which was being showcased by a number of the players, be it in the weight room, individual workout sessions or other group work.

That work ethic is something the coaches are making sure is being held accountable through weekly status updates on exactly what kind of effort each player in the program is showing. That's denoted on a giant board which is divided into four different levels - ranging from "champion" to "sub-par" - with a player able to move up or, if things slack, down.

"Every Monday, I want to hear from every coach about their guys," Moore said. "I want to hear about their guys academically. What their behavior's like. What their attendance is like. I want to know what's their effort's like; what their effort like in their workouts for football. How are they doing in the weight room. How are they doing? ... Every one of our guys, their names are on that board somewhere."

That's because that work ethic and toughness is something Moore believes is going to be what ultimately defines this team. He also knows that those are two things the Tigers can just flip the switch on when the first day of practice comes around on July 31.

That's why, as he spoke of his team just under three months before that first official preseason practice, he could do so with an amount of conviction. Based on what he and his coaches have already seen, those two things are already being established as foundations among the 2017 Tigers.

"I want to say that, standing here today, I'm very proud of our Massillon Tigers," Moore said. "I've never been a part of a staff that demands so much. The amount of work our kids are putting in right now in the strength and conditioning program under the rules of the (Ohio High School Athletic Association) is really unbelievable. ... The greatest thing about Massillon, about our kids, is that football is so important that what we ask of the kids, they'll do it. That's the greatest thing about being here."

It's also, in Moore's mind, what has to be the greatest strength of the Massillon Tigers when the 2017 season gets underway.

Reach Chris at 330-775-1128 or chris.easterling@indeonline.com.

On Twitter: @ceasterlingINDE