“Strong.” “Dedicated.” “Passionate.”
Words painted a portrait of Derek Moore, former Newton Senior High standout offensive lineman whose death over the weekend stunned and sadden those who knew him. Moore was an assistant football coach at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Mo., and was shot to death Friday night in Joplin.
Not having the opportunity to know this young father and coach, one thing became clear to me as friends, former teammates and coaches spoke of Derek — he was passionate about two things in his life — his 7-year-old son Elijah and football.
“He loved football,” said former NHS coach Dick Stiles, who was the offensive line coach for Derek. “He was a good one (offensive lineman). He was disciplined and had great strength. Derek was dedicated to our football program.”
Derek played offensive tackle for Newton, graduating in 1995. He earned first-team all-conference and all-state honors his senior season in 1994. Current NHS head football coach Ed Ergenbright said Derek bench-pressed almost 500 pounds as a senior. Derek was 6-4 and 265 pounds his senior year at Newton.
“Derek and I didn’t talk about coaching. Mainly, we talked about his son. He was so proud of his son and loved being a father,” Stiles said.
Josh Foreman, Joe Koppin and Steve Comer played along the Cardinal offensive line with Derek. They were friends, classmates and teammates.
“We called him Moorsey. He was a really nice guy and loved football. I mean really loved football,” recalled Foreman, who lives in West Des Moines. “I got to know him when he moved here in middle school. He was such a big guy and so strong. He was the strongest person I’ve known.”
Foreman said he and Derek had lost touch until the past few years when they found each other again on Facebook.
“Man, Derek was always happy and smiling. On the field, he was such a competitor but off the field, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He held all the weight lifting records at Newton, still might. He was very intense as a player but what a great person and he loved his son,” Foreman said.
“He and I worked for my mom at Terrace Lodge (Motel in Newton) and set up rooms for parties and things. We had a lot of good times growing up.”
Monday afternoon, MSSU held a memorial service for Derek, who was in his first year on the Lions’ coaching staff. The university canceled last Saturday’s homecoming festivities and postponed the football game against Lindenwood. Missouri Southern head football coach Daryl Daye told the MSSU crowd Monday that Derek was happy and charismatic.
For Koppin, who lives in Ankeny, Derek’s tragic death was a loss to his family, friends and to the sporting world.
“Derek stayed true to his passion for football. We were friends in grade school then he moved away then he came back to Newton,” Koppin said. “He was a wonderful guy. I followed his coaching career and from what I’ve heard, those players he coached loved him and respected him.
“Derek was one of the strongest guys I’ve ever been around. But also was a simple guy, who loved hunting, fishing, football and his son.”
Former coaches had nothing but good things to say about Derek. John Patterson coached Derek in middle school here in Newton, remembering him as an enjoyable athlete and eager to please the coaches. Sarah Patterson, NHS English teacher, remembers Derek, “he was huge, and he loved weight lifting. He and I always talked about lifting and power lifting.”
Darren Hurt, current NHS offensive line coach was an assistant coach when Derek played at Newton, said he had Derek as a student in middle school.
“We kept in contact the last two years. Missouri Southern was an awesome job for Derek,” Hurt said. “He was serious about coaching and loved to inspire his players. He was the first guy I knew who really weight trained in middle school.
“Derek was so much a Newton Cardinal.”
Comer, who lives in Mesa, Atiz., remembers that Derek lived football.
“He would talk football with anyone. What a wonderful guy. We had just reconnected when he got the Missouri Southern job. I played football at Northwest Missouri, which is in the same conference as MSSU so I had to give him a hard time about it.
“One thing, I do know, he was the happiest he had been in a long time and very proud to be a father.”
Derek Moore will forever by a Newton Cardinal. He will forever by a MSSU Lion.