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. ••