Northeast Times

Rhawnhurst’s Moffett a ‘fearless’ leader for SJ Prep

  • Captain of the ship: Rhawnhurst native and St. Joe’s Prep co-captain Vince Moffett helped guide the Hawks into the state playoffs in a 10-7 nail-biter over Frankford. MICHELLE ALTON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Captain of the ship: Rhawnhurst native and St. Joe’s Prep co-captain Vince Moffett helped guide the Hawks into the state playoffs in a 10-7 nail-biter over Frankford. MICHELLE ALTON / FOR THE TIMES

  • Captain of the ship: Rhawnhurst native and St. Joe’s Prep co-captain Vince Moffett helped guide the Hawks into the state playoffs in a 10-7 nail-biter over Frankford. MICHELLE ALTON / FOR THE TIMES

He is not a par­tic­u­larly im­pos­ing phys­ic­al fig­ure, and he doesn’t have re­mark­able speed.

But when you as­sess the suc­cess of St. Joseph’s Prep’s foot­ball pro­gram, no one has been more im­port­ant than seni­or co-cap­tain Vince Mof­fett.

A life­time res­id­ent of Rhawn­hurst, Mof­fett provided key con­tri­bu­tions in the Prep’s 10-7 vic­tory over Frank­ford in Sat­urday even­ing’s PI­AA Dis­trict 12 city cham­pi­on­ship game at North­east High.

It’s not the first time Mof­fett has per­formed well in clutch situ­ations.

Far from it.

“If you need a big play, Vince is of­ten the guy who de­liv­ers,” said Prep coach Gabe In­fante. “He’s steady, and he’s smart.”

In­fante said Mof­fett is also “fear­less,” and it’s that at­trib­ute that helped the 5-foot-10, 185-pound run­ning back/line­back­er main­tain his in­tern­al calm late in the un­ex­pec­tedly tight game.

With the Prep (9-2) seem­ingly los­ing its grasp of a 10-7 lead in­side the fi­nal minutes, Mof­fett was at his typ­ic­al self. At no point, he said, did he ever even con­sider the pos­sib­il­ity of Frank­ford (7-4) pro­du­cing a game-ty­ing or game-win­ning score — this des­pite the Pi­on­eers reach­ing mid­field and com­ing with­in a whisker of a pass com­ple­tion that would have ex­ten­ded the con­test for last-second hero­ics.

“In or­der to make plays, you can’t hes­it­ate at all,” Mof­fett said. “You can’t be scared. You can’t be think­ing of, ‘What if this?’ or ‘What if that?’ You have to be com­pletely con­fid­ent in your abil­ity and your team­mates’ abil­ity to make stops.”

Mof­fett’s poise be­trays his lim­ited ex­per­i­ence as a line­back­er. Al­though he played a hand­ful of snaps on de­fense in this year’s Prep sea­son-open­er, it wasn’t un­til the fourth game of the sea­son that Mof­fett took over as a starter.

With three in­ter­cep­tions un­der his belt and a repu­ta­tion as a bone-jar­ring tack­ler, Mof­fett quickly ad­ap­ted to play­ing on both sides of the ball to the point of be­ing named a second-team All-Cath­ol­ic line­back­er.

So, when Mof­fett lauded Frank­ford as “prob­ably the toughest team we’ve played all year,” the com­pli­ment should not be dis­coun­ted.

“We saw them on film,” said Mof­fett, who for many years played foot­ball, bas­ket­ball and base­ball for the Rhawn­hurst Ath­let­ic As­so­ci­ation be­fore stop­ping his fresh­man year. “They are really good. They’re big and phys­ic­al and they’re fast.

“They def­in­itely rep­res­en­ted the Pub­lic League well. They gave us all we could handle. That was a little too close for com­fort. We have a lot of re­spect for that team.”

Mof­fett’s best play on de­fense oc­curred mid­way through the third quarter when he leveled Quin­ton El­lis as the Frank­ford seni­or run­ning back was about to catch a pass from seni­or quar­ter­back Mar­quise Po­ston, res­ult­ing in a harm­less in­com­ple­tion that would have giv­en the Pi­on­eers a first down at the Prep 35-yard line.

In­stead, the Hawks hal­ted what to that point had been Frank­ford’s most ef­fect­ive drive and thus squelched the first sus­tained stretch of Pi­on­eer mo­mentum.

“Some hits you re­mem­ber more than oth­ers,” Mof­fett said. “Something like that, you don’t feel it be­cause your ad­ren­aline is very high. But you’ll feel it the next day for sure.”

Earli­er, Mof­fett had giv­en the Hawks a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Fa­cing a fourth and six, the Prep had settled for a short field goal, but an off­side pen­alty gave the Hawks a more man­age­able fourth-and-one at the 6-yard line, and they de­cided to go for it. 

Two plays later, the Prep took full ad­vant­age of the gift when Mof­fett fol­lowed the block­ing of ju­ni­or full­back Jake Strain and ju­ni­or guard Shane Dav­is in­to the end zone from two yards out for the Hawks’ only TD.

Soft-spoken and shy by nature, Mof­fett ad­mit­ted he was “pretty pumped” to score a touch­down of such mag­nitude.

“It’s spe­cial any­time you score,” Mof­fett said. “I haven’t had too many touch­downs this year, so it felt even bet­ter.”

Find­ing the end zone is noth­ing new to Mof­fett. As a sopho­more re­serve, Mof­fett scored three touch­downs. Last year, he tripled that pro­duc­tion. Adding four touch­downs this year gives him 16 for his ca­reer — nine as a run­ning back, six as a re­ceiv­er and one on a kick­off re­turn.

When you com­bine his scor­ing prowess with his ca­reer stat­ist­ics — 249 car­ries for 1,327 yards rush­ing, and 48 catches for 552 yards re­ceiv­ing — it’s safe to say that Mof­fett might ar­gu­ably be the Prep’s most un­der­rated play­er.

“I just go out and have fun,” Mof­fett said. “I en­joy it. Whatever needs to be done, I try and do it. It’s the same with the rest of us. No one is more im­port­ant than any­one else. I think we all con­trib­ute just the same.”

After Sat­urday night,Frank­ford’s foot­ball play­ers might dis­agree. ••

You can reach at jknebels@gmail.com.

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