Bellarmine Prep coach Brian Jensen said he’s had to tell his senior quarterback to mix some rest with his hard work.
Christian Moore spent his offseason refining the mechanics to complement his 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame under center, and his return to the Lions’ offense is the biggest reason why Bellarmine is confident of a return trip to the 4A state playoffs, even if it has lost its greatest offensive contributor from a year ago.
“During the offseason I grinded a lot with these guys, all the time,” Moore said. “Now that I’m a captain, I have a bigger responsibility, and that is to lead these guys.
“And I’m going to do what I have to do to get that done.”
Moore threw for 1,358 yards and nine touchdowns last season, completing 119 of 214 passes.
But this was a run-first, run-second and maybe-run-third team last year. Ahmad Lewis had almost 100 more carries than Moore had pass attempts and rushed for 1,721 yards. Bellarmine as a team had 448 carries.
Jensen said he expects that to balance this year, with seniors Matthew Money and Czarshay Thomas expected to share backfield duties.
Oh, and because of that cannon that Moore has for an arm.
“His mechanics are a little tighter,” said Jensen, who played quarterback in high school (Curtis) and college (Central Washington). “He’s a big, prototype, D-1, NFL body type of kid. It’s just about himself getting used to his body and being able to function and do the movements we need at the quarterback position.
“I’m really proud of how he’s developed. His leadership, too, has been great. He’s a come-follow-me guy.”
Said junior linebacker Chase Chandler: “He had a great offseason. I think he’s going to be The Man. He is a stud.”
Now, about these new running backs.
First, check out Bellarmine’s past few tailbacks. In the past five years, Isaiah Flynn, Lou Millie, Nate Goltermann-Doyle and Lewis have all rushed for at least 1,300 yards.
Money was Lewis’ primary backup last season, carrying the ball 74 times for 552 yards and seven touchdowns. Thomas got 16 touches last year.
Jensen described Money as a straight-ahead runner and Thomas as more slashing. He expects they’ll complement each other.
“We won’t know until we get into it, and both guys will be playing defense, too,” Jensen said. “We’ll have to keep track of their health and wind. But they both have track speed. It will be a good mix.”
What helps is an offensive line that returns four of five starters — even if the one loss was TNT All-Area left tackle G. Paul Gicewicz.
Bellarmine’s seniors came up with a team motto during a senior-only retreat in June at one of the assistant coaches houses: The Way.
And they’re convinced the way back to the 4A state playoffs — even if it’s through the 4A South Puget Sound League this year instead of the 4A Narrows — will be less through individual talent and more through team unity and a grind-it-out, scrappy effort every night.
So who needs rest?
“We’re different,” senior lineman Andrew Jesse said. “We play with heart. We play with passion and we play as one. We don’t play as individuals or for ourselves. We play for the men on our left and right.”
“We are going to be scrappy because we have to be,” Chandler said. “We are gritty. Really gritty. We don’t have big names, but we are going to go after it every play and hit hard.”
TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677
TNT Preseason Prep Practice Tour
Bellarmine Prep was the second stop on The News Tribune’s preseason prep practice tour, which will include 18 stops in the 14 practices until the first Football Friday of the season. What’s online:
▪ Videos and links to every stop on the practice tour
▪ South Sound quarterback competition to find the best arm in the region
▪ Find it at thenewstribune.com/high-school