Northwest football coach Weston Schartz looks at his two star defensive players — Bennett Moore and Jacob Davis — and sees a lesson in today's youth.
They are best friends, he points out, but they are also so different.
Defensive end Bennett Moore, a 6-foot-2, 230-pound senior who was second on the Grizzlies with 106 tackles last season, is a "throwback," Schartz says, a testament to the way football used to be played.
"He's one of the hardest-working kids I've ever coached," Schartz said. "This kid, I tell you, lives and dies with the game. He works until he shuts down almost. He's the one crying in the locker room when we lose. He feels the game on an emotional level that you can't teach... it's just something that's got to be there already."
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Moore, who played linebacker last season, has an offer from Army on the table but hopes he can drum up some more interest with a big final push that included camps this summer at Kansas, Kansas State, Air Force, Oklahoma State and Tulsa.
"We've moved him from linebacker to defensive end this year so we could put his hand in the dirt, see if we can get him to the next level," Schartz said. "All the college coaches who talked to us about him told us we needed to get him coming off the edge, so that's what we're going to do. And when we told him, he didn't bat an eye."
Moore also added 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason, which can't hurt for a team that returns 18 starters after going 5-5 in 2010.
"I think last year I learned what it takes to lead a defense," Moore said. "And I also learned that maybe before you can't really taste success until you've tasted defeat. I know what that's like now and frankly, it just pissed me off."
In a further testament to days gone by, Moore clams up when asked about the one-inch wide scar on his right hand that runs from the base knuckle on his pinkie to the wrist of his right hand. It's so discolored and deep that it almost looks like a burn — but that's not what it's from.
Moore admits it was from a fight several years ago, but that's all he'll go into.
"Not something I'm proud of," is all he's willing to elaborate, lifting his hand up to examine the scar again. In a world of instant gratification and bombast, it's a different take.
Which brings up Davis, who is a different take all on his own.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound middle linebacker already has an offer from North Dakota State, while Iowa State and Bowling Green are circling. His 109 tackles led the Grizzlies last season, but according to Schartz, that wasn't quite good enough.
"You look at him, and he's got the body of a Greek god . He can run a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, bench press almost 400 pounds and can make plays all over the field," Schartz said. "But I still feel like there's another level I want him to tap into. I know now that summers are like tryout sessions for these kids, where they can go out and try to get offers from colleges, but I feel like that's a distraction. I get it, but I want our kids here doing bench presses, not somewhere out-of-state doing vertical jumps.
"I'm not saying that it's going to affect him negatively, it's just that he's a next-generation type player. He looks at things differently than I do. Not that I'm right, it's just different."
Davis, for his part, owns it. He knows that he should dominate games from start to finish and feels like he's up to the challenge. Especially with Moore by his side.
"I definitely feel like I could be a little more aggressive, like I could take over games," Davis said. "(Schartz) knows that I can, too, he just needs to see it."
Both Davis and Moore mentioned the Grizzlies' Friday opener against Kapaun Mount Carmel several times before going out to an afternoon practice on Tuesday, referring to the game as a "starting point" for what they hope is a special year.
" (Moore) knows what this year means, and so do I," Davis said. "There's a lot on the line."