September 17, 2013 10:13:42 AM
Damian Moore knew the game plan. It probably was the simplest one he had ever received: Stop Aeris Williams.
After receiving his orders, Moore had all week to think about how he and his Columbus High School teammates were going to stop a player many consider to be the top prep running back in the state of Mississippi.
Moore also had plenty of time to reflect on the fact that West Point is accustomed to having success against teams that know what it is going to do and who it is going to give the ball to.
That didn't matter to Moore because he had a job to do and he was going to get it done.
"Stopping No. 22 was my job," said Moore, a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder who played a hybrid linebacker-safety position Friday night. "I took it as a challenge and was flattered that he chose me out of all of the players to take that responsibility."
Moore and the Falcons aced their assignment, holding Williams, a Mississippi State verbal commitment, to 46 yards (20 carries) and a touchdown in a 41-14 victory in West Point. Moore led a defensive charge with at least 10 tackles, including three stops for loss. He also had a forced fumble and two solo tackles of Williams.
"He did his job about as good as you can do it," Columbus High football coach Tony Stanford said. "He has probably played three of the best ballgames he has had in his career this season. It seemed like Friday night every time we needed a play he made it."
For his accomplishment, Moore is The Dispatch's Prep Player of the Week.
Stanford told Moore he had special duty against West Point. He said he assigned Moore the job because he is a solid tackler and the Falcons needed someone who could stop Williams before he got started. He said Moore was there every time Williams looked like he was about to break a big play.
Moore watched film of Williams and went into the game thinking tackling was going to be his biggest challenge.
"From seeing other films, nobody could tackle him. It was like he was Superman," Moore said.
Moore said he stuck to his fundamentals and wrapped up and held on whenever he made a stop. He said it was a "relief" he was able to bring down "Superman" and that he was able to contribute to a victory that pushed Columbus to 2-1 and ranks among the best in his high school career.
"It was one of the best feelings in the world," Moore said of beating West Point. "We just executed and everybody did their job."
Moore has been on the varsity team since he was a sophomore. He has played linebacker, safety, and running back. This is his first season playing both ways. Columbus defeated West Point in 2011 and lost in overtime last season.
Moore hopes Columbus' latest effort shows it can be the No. 1 defense in the state. He said discipline and coaching are keys to the Falcons' success on defense. He also hopes his performance will help him attract attention so he can fulfill his goal and play football in college. Moore said he has received interest from Delta State and East Mississippi Community College.
Stanford has watched Moore and many of his players grow into football players thanks to a lot of hard work in the weight room. He believes Moore has a bright future because of his work ethic and his attitude that nothing is going to stop him from getting a job -- even one that calls for stopping "Superman" -- done.
"He is a super hard worker," Stanford said. "He has been in the weight room for the past four years, and he does everything he has to to get stronger. Last year, we played him at linebacker. This year, we are having to play him at linebacker and safety. He can play both positions pretty good. I think he already has intercepted two passes. We played him at linebacker Friday night and he made play after play after play. He knows his job and gets it accomplished every play."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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