COC football’s Moore making most of opportunity

COC quarterback Matt Moore has provided a spark for a once stagnant Cougars offense, throwing for more than 300 yards in three straight games. John Bogna/COC Sports Information Office

The answers took on a staccato rhythm.

Matt Moore’s been great, huh?

“No question,” said College of the Canyons football coach Ted Iacenda.

He’s got a cannon arm, right?

“A cannon,” the coach agreed.

How far can he throw it?

“Who knows?” Iacenda said, “Seventy, 75 yards? He has a Boller-type arm.”

The Kyle Boller?

“Oh, yes.”

To be sure, COC’s quarterback is a long way from following in the shoes of Boller, a Hart High product who went on to play at Cal and in the NFL, and Moore is hardly the most famous “Matt Moore” to play at Cougar Stadium, but no one can question his arm strength.

Iacenda says that even though Moore started the season on the bench, he never questioned Moore’s football IQ or overall talent.

College of the Canyons quarterback Matt Moore (18) throws a pass against Santa Monica at Cougar Stadium on Saturday night. John Bogna/COC Sports Information Office

The question was: Could a maturing offensive line keep the 6-foot-3, 255-pounder upright?

For three weeks now, the unit has. And Moore has passed for 300-plus yards in each, igniting a once-stagnant offense and propelling COC (4-5) to two wins and a three-point loss.

The only question now is what four-year school will scoop up the upward-trending sophomore. Moore, for his part, can only prepare for COC’s regular-season finale at Bakersfield on Saturday and wait.

Something he’s become adept at.

Moore graduated from Desert High on Edwards Air Force Base in 2014. He attended the school, he says, not because he had a parent in the military, but because of Desert’s strong academics.

He wants to study aerospace engineering (a factor complicating his recruitment).

He could have attended a four-year school out of high school, but he wanted to avoid loans.

“I figured football could be an option to pay for school,” he said.

As a senior at Desert, he threw for 2,254 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He ran for another 567 yards and 13 TDs, leading his team to the semifinals of the CIF-Southern Section Northeast Division playoffs.

His game film said it all. He heard back from COC’s coaching staff almost immediately.

“Ten minutes later,” Moore said.

His ascension to the role of Cougars starting quarterback took considerably longer.

Moore grayshirted his first season. Then, in 2015, he served as backup QB to sophomore Devon Dunn, someone Moore saw as a role model.

“When I first got here, I was not a good leader,” Moore said. “I was messing around on the sideline. Devon took the initiative of being a leader. I was like, ‘Maybe I should do this because good things are happening in the game because everyone respected him.’”

2016, it seemed, would be Moore’s year.

At the beginning of the season, however, he wasn’t even one of three quarterbacks who emerged as favorites for the starting job.

A trio of freshmen — CJ Williams, Louis Eusebi and Tanner Darling — were the top candidates, mostly due to their mobility.

“It was more (about) our inability to protect,” Iacenda said of Moore, who was sacked seven times in COC’s 2015 finale.

Moore handled the situation with maturity. That’s not to say it didn’t bother him.

“Honestly, I was kind of down in the dumps,” Moore said.

But he turned to a strong support system, people like COC quarterbacks coach Seth Oseransky and two private strength trainers.

College of the Canyons quarterback Matt Moore has thrown for more than 300 yards in all three of his starts this season. John Bogna/COC Sports Information Office
College of the Canyons quarterback Matt Moore has thrown for more than 300 yards in all three of his starts this season. John Bogna/COC Sports Information Office

“(They) told me to keep the faith and good things will happen,” he said.

The Cougars started this season 2-0, with Williams handling most of the quarterback duties and Eusebi entering the game as a slippery change of pace.

Then COC entered the teeth of a brutal non-conference schedule, playing four teams ranked in the state’s top 15 and walking away with no wins to show for it.

That’s when the pieces started to fall together for Moore. The Cougars’ offensive line had improved, and the teams COC would be playing couldn’t bring the same intense pressure anyway.

Also, the Cougars — ranked 51st the state in total offense midway through the year — needed a spark.

“He’s added more (dimensions) to the passing game,” said running back Tylan McBride.

How so?

“Deep balls,” McBride said.

Moore unleashed a 60-yard bomb on COC’s first offensive play Saturday night against Santa Monica, a pass that overshot speedster Marquise Brown. Moore reined in his powerful right arm from there, completing 20-of-36 passes for 334 yards and two touchdowns.

Asked about Moore’s college prospects afterward, Iacenda said schools have yet to reach out.

“I have a feeling they will,” he said. “His highlights are going to be spectacular.”

Until then, Moore will wait. And work. And stay ready.

“That’s all you can ask as a coach,” Iacenda said. “Wait for his opportunity and then, when he gets it, make the most of it.”

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