Footballs on Nebraska High School Football Field
Photo Credit: John S. Peterson

A Field With His Name on It: Seth Moore and a Canceled Trip to Ogallala

September 21, 2020

Friday was supposed to be a joyous occasion.

Seth Moore, a senior offensive tackle for Kearney Catholic, was going to see his grandma on his father’s side, who still lives out in Ogallala, his uncle, who lives nearby, and his grandfather on his mom’s side, who lives out in Denver.

It would have marked the third trip Moore had made to play at Ogallala High School. In 2018, as a sophomore, the Stars won 43-26. In 2017, when Seth was a freshman, the Stars won 35-6. “We’ve kind of developed a little bit of a rivalry,” Seth’s dad, Pat, told me. “The last couple of years it’s gotten real intense.”

But it means something special to the Moore family.

The field out in Ogallala is named after Seth’s grandfather and Pat’s dad, George “Ed” Moore.

“My Dad started teaching there in 1964 and then he retired in 1993,” Pat said. “He was an assistant football (coach) and freshmen football (coach). He coached junior varsity basketball and freshmen basketball, he coached track, he coached cross-country, he was the intramural basketball (coach). He kind of did everything. Typical small school teacher who was active in a little bit of everything.”

Ed coached football at Ogallala for 25 years. Pat’s sophomore year of high school was Ed’s last as a football coach, but Pat got to see plenty of his dad while on school grounds.

He was his track coach all four years; Pat threw in the discus. He was Pat’s freshman basketball coach. He was Pat’s American history and psychology teacher. And he was Pat’s driver’s ed instructor.

“He was not a difficult teacher but expectations were a little higher,” Pat said.

There’s a picture in the class yearbook featuring Pat and six other students from his class standing with either their mother or father. Of the 90-person class, seven of them had a parent teaching at the school.

And it didn’t matter if Ed was his teacher that period or not, if Pat stepped out of line, his Dad was always around the corner.

“One time I got in trouble—I think I was a freshman in PE—and we were doing something when the teacher wasn’t paying attention, and I have a little bit of competitiveness in me and the point went the other way and I made some comment under my breath and the teacher got mad and called me out and literally at the end of the next period my dad had me cornered,” he remembered.

“At track practice that night—normally I was not a track runner, I threw the discus—I got to run laps. That was my punishment. Rather than my two-lap warm-up, I got to run for an hour and fifteen minutes. That was my punishment for mouthing off to the PE teacher.”

Pat, of course, has no shortage of memories of his dad. Seth has few of his grandfather. Ed passed away in 2006. Seth was 3.

“Once he got grandkids, his grandkids were his world,” Pat said.

And Seth understands that.

There’s this thing that happens when you lose a loved one you didn’t know beyond the stories. The stories become everything. The attachment is there like it would normally be, even if you can’t remember actual moments the two of you were together.

Seth remembers stories with his grandfather.

His teammates know how much playing on Ed’s field means.

His coaches do, too.

“Let’s make it a special one for Seth,” offensive line coach Paul Brungardt told the team in 2018. He did the same all week leading up to the 2017 game, even though Seth was a seldom-used freshman.

That 2018 game, one they thought might be Seth’s last to play on the field (scheduling is redrawn ever two years), has become one of those special kinds of memories for Seth.

“The last time we were out there, when he was a sophomore, he had played a little bit early in the season but we had Eli Richter—who’s a kid who has since walked on at Nebraska—and he got banged up a little bit, so Seth came in early in the game,” Pat said. “Now, he was all of 170 pounds playing offensive tackle and defensive end and he was definitely undersized, but he had the game of his life.

“He absolutely played out of his mind. He came off the field and just started sobbing.”

He wasn’t supposed to play. That something beyond his control intervened and put him on the field? That was special.

“I’m just so happy I got to play on Grandpa’s field,” he told Pat.

It’s always emotional when the Moores get to visit Ogallala. When the schedule came out that Seth’s senior season would feature another trip back, the entire family celebrated.

“I was pretty excited because just being able to have my grandma come out and watch, play on that field where there’s a big sign with my grandpa’s name on it,” he said. “I think we’re undefeated against Ogallala (in his time on the team) so to be able to claim that field as our field is a pretty cool thing.”

The trip won’t happen this year.

Originally slated for Friday, the game was canceled Wednesday after Ogallala confirmed a positive test for COVID-19. Harvey told the team after practice Wednesday. “I was pretty upset,” Seth said. “I shed a few tears, to be honest.”

The Stars (2-1) were given practice off Thursday. They’ll get back to work next week. Kearney Catholic did some looking around for a replacement game, but the teams available all reside at the Class A level. Not exactly the best option for a smaller C-1 school.

Seth will end his career 2-0 against his grandpa’s old team, though. They’ll have that 2018 memory, the game he went bonkers. Nothing can take that one away.

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