(Nov. 30, 2018) After 23 years as a teacher and coach at Calvert Hall in Baltimore, John Moeser has made the move to the Eastern Shore to take over the boys’ varsity basketball program at Worcester Prep.
He actually interviewed for the boys’ lacrosse head coach position when he learned the basketball coach job was open as well. He got both jobs.
“I had an opportunity to move down here, and I obviously know the reputation of Worcester being a great school,” he said. “It was a great opportunity. My family is down here. I’m really the only person that was left on the other side of the bridge. I had a house down here … and this was were I wanted to be.”
A biology teacher, Moeser coached soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Calvert Hall. He has been on the sidelines with some of the top coaches in the state and the country, and brings a tremendous amount of experience to Worcester.
“I’ve had great mentors. I’ve been fortunate that I coached under two legendary coaches from the Baltimore Catholic League,” he said. “I played and coached with Ray Mullis, who at one time had the most wins in Maryland … and then at Calvert Hall I worked with Mark Amatucci, who won a national championship in 1982 at Calvert Hall, then also was the head coach at Loyola University in Baltimore.
“I coached at Cardinal Gibbons, my alma mater, for two years and Steve Wojciechowski was there, and when he went to Duke I was able to hang around the Duke program and learn a lot down there,” he added.
Moeser said the transition to Worcester has been fairly smooth, with the help of Assistant Coach Greg Palmer, who was with the program last year.
Moeser’s friend, Pat Moylan, who played for DeMatha, then Bucknell University, joins the coaching staff and “has been a great help as well.”
“I have a great staff,” he said.
There are 14 players on the roster – eight seniors, two juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.
“The kids are fantastic … It’s a good mix. I think the chemistry is starting to generate and jell,” Moeser said. “They’re very coachable, they listen and we’ve made tremendous improvement [since preseason began].”
Six players competed last season when the team went 8-8. The Mallards’ season ended with a 56-36 loss to Delmarva Christian in the semifinal round of the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference.
The team graduated five players. Four of them were starters.
Senior Colin Miller earned ESIAC Honorable Mention accolades for his performance during the 2017-18 season. Miller was third on the team in points with 133 and second in assists (56) last year.
He has been a member of the team for four years and will again take the court at the point guard position.
Miller is a team captain this season, with seniors Cooper Richins and Cole Berry.
“I think the experience of seeing all the defenses from previous years and having the composure that I didn’t have freshman year” will help Miller lead the team, he said.
“I love playing point guard. I love being able to help my teammates out and get everyone involved, and pass instead of shooting most of the time. It’s fun,” he said.
Although he prefers to pass, Miller said he will “still get my fair share of shots.”
Moeser said Miller will be instrumental as an extension of the coaching staff on the floor.
Senior Michael Curtis also returns.
“Michael Curtis is probably our best offensive player. He shoots the ball really well,” Moeser said. “Cole Berry is a guy that keeps everything going. He’s kind of the enforcer. He will play down low and Cooper Richins is a post player.”
Junior Sam Tinkler, who Moeser said stands at 6’5’’-6’6,’’ will be a big presence down low because of his height.
Moeser said newcomer Mason Brown, a sophomore, is athletic, a good shooter and offensive player. Freshman Brice Richins will also be a contributor as the season goes on, Moeser said.
“Even though we lost four starting seniors last year, Colin’s been doing a great job getting all the guys together and making sure everyone knows where they are supposed to be and what they’re doing,” Curtis said. “I think everyone is looking pretty well. We’ve definitely evolved out of tryouts, and each player is getting better and better each practice. Shots are going in more and free throws are better.”
As a whole, Moeser said the team is very athletic.
“We’re going to run. We’re going to press,” he added.
During the preseason scrimmages, the Prep defense was solid.
“I think that’s going to be our strength,” Moeser said.
Since a majority of the roster is made up of seniors, Moeser said they will be the “heart and soul” of the team.
“We’re really heavily senior laden, so we have great leadership. The seniors so far have taken that role and ran with it,” he said.
Moeser said his concentration has been on the fundamentals of the game and he hopes to build the basketball program.
“The main focus is to make sure middle school kids feel like part of the program, and JV kids,” he said.
Having a successful feeder program is important, especially with so many seniors.
Worcester will compete in the Indian River Tip-Off Classic this weekend in Delaware. The Prep squad will battle Indian River at 6 p.m. tonight, Friday. The Mallards will then play Laurel at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“We’re working hard. We’re looking forward to opening up with the tip-off tournament,” Moeser said. “I hope we’re going to surprise some people this season.”
“I’d like to go out with a bang,” Miller said. “We definitely want to win the league and go undefeated. It will take a lot of hard work in practice.”