Tom Moore inherited his father’s passion for building a football program.
Good thing too. For a time, it appeared that was all he would get.
“He claimed he was going to write me out of the will because I was not doing the Wing-T,” Moore joked. “He is the guru on the Wing-T, or he was.
“I would say we’re going to see what we have available. We’re going to try to match what we’re doing — on offense and defense — to the talent [and] players that we have.”
Moore might be his own man when it comes to designing schemes, but he took a page directly from his late father’s playbook when he accepted an offer to become head coach at Hillwood, which will close in the next two to three years and be replaced by the new, yet-to-be-named high school in Bellevue. School officials formally introduced him Tuesday as their choice to build on the team’s recent, albeit limited, success during the past few seasons.
Tom Moore, of course, is the son of Herschel Moore, one of the country’s leading advocates on the Wing-T and the author of multiple books on the particulars of the scheme. The elder Moore, who passed away last September, also notably built or rebuilt the programs at Glencliff, Stratford and Beech High Schools as well as at Cumberland University.
Hillwood has operated for more than 40 years and has had state championship teams in baseball, tennis, track and field (boys and girls) and wrestling.
Never, though, has it established any sort of reputation as a football power. The school has made the state playoffs just eight times and won three games. Half of those postseason appearances — but no victories — came in the past four seasons under former coach Kurt Page, who resigned in December to become an administrator at a private school in Alabama.
The current foundation led to great interest in the opening. Athletics director Ronald Sparkman said six finalists formally interviewed out of an initial pool of more than 80 applicants from 12 different states.
“I had former NFL players that applied for the job, current college coaches, former college coaches, current high school coaches, people with no coaching background. I even had one person who was a retired, one-star general out of the Army apply for the job,” Sparkman said. “It has generated a lot of interest. So we went through a lengthy process.”
In the end, Tom Moore was the choice.
A three-sport star at Montgomery Bell Academy as a youth, a three-year starter at Vanderbilt and a veteran of two decades as a high school coach in and around Nashville, he said the Hillwood job was the only one for which he applied. He spent the past several seasons at Warren County.
He also grew up on the west side of town and has worked at MBA, Christ Presbyterian Academy and Brentwood Academy, among others, so he knows the lay of the land — literally and figuratively — in his new position.
“I’m beyond excited,” he said. “I have a tremendous amount of energy right now for all the things that need to be done and the opportunity that presents itself here. … I think we’re on the brink of something big, just from what we already have at Hillwood but also what we could have in the future.
Hillwood High (located in the neighborhood from which its name derives) took the students from Bellevue when Bellevue High School closed in 1980.
“… What a great opportunity to reconnect with Bellevue,” Moore said. “Bellevue is a phenomenal community. My dad always said if they ever put a high school back in Bellevue it’s going to be the best job. It’s going to be the best school in the city.”