Victory Christian Academy’s Preston Kinard tries to avoid North River Christian Academy’s Matt Lary in their game Friday night in Columbus. Photo by: Evelyn Carter/Special to The Dispatch
August 25, 2018 10:58:55 PM
Brandon Moore has a secret weapon when things go haywire.
You might not expect a junior quarterback in his first season as full-time starter to look so poised when a snap goes over his head or opponents are breaking through the line trying to chase him down. But Moore doesn't panic or lose his cool because he knows he only has to look for No. 5 to help get the Victory Christian Academy football team out of a jam.
Moore said his grandparents and Kinard's grandparents were next-door neighbors, so they were always playing together. In fact, they still are next-door neighbors in Columbus, which explains why Moore's default when something goes wrong is to look for No. 5.
"My first instinct ever since I was little is find Preston," Moore said. "I found Preston and it paid off."
Moore was referring to a 19-yard touchdown pass to Kinard that came in the second half of a 67-38 victory against North River Christian Academy (Ala.) in the team's season opener.
Moore, a junior, is taking over at quarterback for Gavin Forrester. Last season, VCA coach Chris Hamm said Moore showed potential in the passing game. He displayed a strong arm and accuracy in his debut, going 12-for-13 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 5-yard score. His only incompletion was nearly intercepted when he didn't lead his receiver coming over the middle.
"I was real pleased with the way he ran the team, ran the offense," Hamm said. "I thought he did a real good job."
One of the plays Hamm remembered the most was when a safety jumped a route on pass play and Moore pulled the football and tucked it an ran. He showed poised as the rush poured in, but he didn't panic, avoided the tacklers, and then lowered his shoulder right before the goal line to barrel his way home.
Moore showed the same cool makeup on the scoring pass to Kinard, as he avoided the rush and didn't attempt to complete the play that had been called. Instead, Moore scrambled to find open space and looked to his right toward the VCA sideline where he knew No. 5 -- Kinard -- was going to be.
Kinard said he and Moore have been playing backyard football with each other since they started to walk, which explains why they have an uncanny ability to sense where the other is going to be on the field.
"It is kind of like backyard football," Kinard said. "You gain trust when you are little and you are thinking, 'I know he can make the play. I have seen him make the play. I know he can make the play.' "
On the scramble play, Kinard knew he couldn't back track and risk getting called for a block in the back, so he found open space and then sent out a mental message to Moore to find him in front of the Eagles' sideline.
"It is almost like a brotherly instinct because when you are that close it is almost like you are brothers," Kinard said.
Hamm smiled when asked if the Eagles work on "scramble" plays when things go wrong, like snaps over the quarterback's head. Snaps eluded Moore at least twice, but he was fortunate on both occasions to get good bounces back up to him. He then had time to turn and get at least a quick glance at the field to survey his options.
"One of those was a pass play, so he knew where his safety valve was," Hamm said. "The last one to Preston was a run play, so he improvised on that. I have to give him credit for that."
Hamm acknowledged that a "bad snap" actually might be beneficial in eight-man football because it tempts defenders to leave their assignments and opens running lanes. Still, it takes quick thinking and poise for a playmaker to recognize what is there to make something happen.
Despite allowing 38 points in the second half, Hamm was pleased with the performance in the first half. He credited North River Academy for playing hard in the second half and hitting several big plays. Hamm said VCA will go back to work and prepare for its home game against Hope Christian at 7 p.m. Friday.
"They came out and played really good in the first half. They were focused and energetic and came out and took it to them," Hamm said. "We didn't make a lot of mistakes early on and didn't have many penalties. I felt like we handled the night and the first game about as well as we could have in the first half."
Moore said he felt "really comfortable and confident" in his teammates. He said he is motivated to do something special because he sees how hard everyone is working in practice. With weapons like Kinard, Kenny Collier, who rushed for three scores, Dallas Colom, Jay Elmore, and Houston Ballard, it's easy to see why Moore, who has seen action as the varsity kicker, is excited to lead the team. A pitcher and a shortstop on the school's baseball team, Moore has played quarterback since the fifth grade.
"It is always good to be able to trust whoever you're on the field and playing with," Moore said. "It is great to know I can rely on anybody to make a good catch, a good run, or to know their job."
Kinard is convinced his teammate and friend can build on the effort and keeping the Eagles going in the right direction, even if he doesn't complete nearly 100 percent of his passes every game.
"He was amazing," Kinard said. "I have had family members say, 'Hey, do you think Brandon is going to do it?' I told them he is going to do good. Just watch. Just watch. They were like, 'We have seen him do a little bit of good but he has done some bad in the past, but I told them we are practicing this season and he knows what he is doing. He came out and played to the best of his abilities with the weapons he had.
"I believe everybody on the team has the confidence that he can make the plays he is supposed to make and can make the right decisions most every play."
The teams combined for Victory Christian's highest-scoring season opener dating back through the 1994 season. The 67 points was VCA's highest scoring output in a season opener since it beat Flint Hill Christian 71-26 in 2008. It matched that total in a 71-8 victory against Victory Christian (Ala.) on Aug. 29, 2003.
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Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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