Newly named Upper Perk football head football coach Steve Moyer speaks with members of the football team Friday afternoon after being appointed to the position on Feb. 9.
Steve Moyer physically and mentally has never strayed far from the Upper Perkiomen Valley.
He was born and raised here, was a star athlete at Upper Perkiomen High School earning nine varsity letters in football, baseball, basketball and track and earned the school’s scholar athlete award in 1968. As a junior, he was a standout running back who helped lead the Indians to a Bux-Mont title in 1966.
After high school, and after entertaining offers from Penn State, Duke, Virginia and Iowa State, Moyer attended Pittsburgh University, where he had a stellar career, finishing with the school’s career record for pass receptions at 116. He just missed the single season record as a freshman by two receptions.
Moyer briefly entertained the thought of a pro career, talking with the Detroit Lions about being a free agent, but he instead opted for a teaching and coaching job at Freedom High School in Bethlehem.
That led him to Red Land High School, near Harrisburg, where he served as an assistant and head coach for six seasons. That’s when, back in 1986, the head coaching job opened up at his alma mater, and Moyer was selected from a field of 30 candidates to become the Indians’ head coach.
“This is like a dream come true,” Moyer said in an interview 26 years ago after being named head coach.
Fast forward to 2012, and Moyer is living out that dream come true for a second time.
After serving as Upper Perk’s head coach from 1986-1998, a 12-year run that included a Pioneer Athletic Conference title in 1997, and a pair of District 1 AAA playoff appearances in ’96 and ’97, Moyer then took his game to the college level. He coached at Kutztown University for 10 years, came back to help out on Keith Leamer’s staff for the Tribe in -09-’10, and then traveled out to Pittsburgh to coach at Shady Side Academy with a former Pitt teammate and friend.
And after all that, he will be coming back again to the Valley to become Upper Perk’s head football coach a second time. The announcement was made formal last Thursday night at the school board meeting, and Moyer got a chance to meet the incoming players last Friday.
“I have a lot of roots in the Valley,” Moyer said. “I grew up here, my family and parents are here, my kids are in the area. It’s just the lure of the Valley - all that combined to bring me back and I’m excited to see what will happen.”
A longtime social studies teacher at Upper Perk, Moyer is now retired, which will give him more time to focus on football. In his first stint leading the Tribe, he was 49-54-1 in the PAC-10, and 55-75-1 overall. The ’97 team, which featured his middle son Jeff at quarterback, still holds a number of records, including most points in a season with 410.
In his second time around, Moyer will inherit a relatively young team. The squad went 3-6, 5-7 overall in 2011 and graduated 24 seniors, including the likes of Ronnie Gillespie, John Olson and Dalton Fleming.
Back next fall is quarterback Dylan Wesley, who will have a full year of experience heading into his senior year. Other key contributors the Indians will likely look to include skill players Ryan Harris (senior wide receiver), Quinn Perlstein (senior running back) and Aidan Schaffer (junior running back, returner).
“The goal is to win a league championship, anything beyond that takes care of itself,” Moyer said. “We only had championships in ’63, ‘66 and ’97, and that’s not an easy thing to do. And it’s even harder now, with half of the league at the AAAA level.”
Moyer will take over for Keith Leamer, who resigned this past season. Leamer, who previously served on Moyer’s staff, enjoyed his share of success as well, finishing with winning records in both the league (46-35) and overall (59-46), as he guided three of his teams to the District 1 AAA playoffs in his nine-year tenure as head coach.
Moyer has yet to announce his staff, and said he will stress the importance of the weight room and offseason conditioning. An assistant at both the high school and college level for the past 15 years, Moyer said he relishes the chance to have the head coaching job again.
“It was fun dabbling in college level and the level of play, you can do more things,” Moyer said, “but I always felt more comfortable at the high school level. Here you can be involved in the whole program more, offense, defense and weight program. You just feel more a part of it really.”
Getting back into coaching, though, has been a slow process. His wife Loretta, Moyer’s high school sweetheart, died in 2007. Moyer got of coaching for a while, has since remarried and is now ready for his next challenge.
“It’s kind of a rejuvenation,” he said. “Kutztown was great to me, getting remarried was great – I just feel alive again.”