By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Staff Writer Despite growing up as a quarterback, Jon Moyer never really fit the prototypical quarterback mold. He wasn’t flashy — even now as a high school senior at Ocean City he doesn’t relish in the opportunity to talk about himself, preferring to instead deflect the conversation to how good his teammates and coaches are. He wasn’t one of these middle school players brimming with confidence who talk about everything they’re going to do once they are varsity players. Moyer wasn’t even sure he wanted to play high school football — or if he was even good enough. Well, the last four years have proven that Moyer — now a 6-foot-4, 200-pound defensive back and receiver — was plenty good enough. This past fall he had 30 receptions for nearly 500 yards and seven touchdowns, all tops among Red Raiders receivers, and he finished his career with nearly 800 receiving yards in two seasons as a varsity starter. What was even more impressive was the fact that while he was doing all that as a receiver, he played defense, too, having to go against some of the top receivers in the state (and in some cases, the country). Guys like Lotzeir Brooks of Millville, Jamie Tyson of Mainland, Cam Miller of Winslow, Alim Parks of Cedar Creek and Khalil Witherspoon of Pleasantville. “It was kind of one of those things where I wasn’t sure if I had the dedication and the commitment that it cost, and if I was even good enough to play in high school. My parents always told me, ‘once it’s over, it’s over.’ So I didn’t want to look back and regret not playing,” Moyer said. “It was definitely an experience. Coming out of youth football, I actually wasn’t even sure I wanted to play football in high school but I’m super glad that I did because of the friendships I’ve made over the past four years with the kids I’ve played with and the people who taught me. All the experiences, from playing in the South Jersey Group 4 championship and all the success — and even the losses that we had over the years, I feel like it just taught me a lot about football and about myself. And those experiences are special to me, so I’m glad I actually played.” Moyer played so well, in fact, that he plans on continuing his career at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. He said he started gaining confidence that he could possibly play at the next level as a sophomore when he started getting some varsity playing time. “(College football) is definitely something you’re trying to drive for. A lot of kids who play high school sports dream of that stuff and once that switch hit sophomore year, that’s all I started working toward,” he said. “Now that it’s official and finally on paper, it’s relieving and I’m so thankful that I decided to play and that I was presented the opportunities that I have now. Just being able to play in high school is something to be proud of. It takes a lot of work and I’m appreciative of everything and everybody that went into it.” “He’s a special kid. He hadn’t even played wide receiver until his junior year,” said Ocean City coach Kevin Smith. “He’d been a quarterback for all that time. But at the receiver position especially, I thought he grew by leaps and bounds as he started to figure stuff out. And we were asking him to cover the other team’s best receiver and then turn right around and be our best receiver? Against our schedule? That was pretty challenging and he did an awesome job. I was really happy it worked out with Lafayette for him. That’s a great fit for him.” The Red Raiders went just 3-7 this past fall but played one of the toughest schedules in the state. Half the teams on their schedule were in the South Jersey Glory Days/South Jersey Football Frenzy Show Best 11 rankings that feature the top teams in the 90-plus team West Jersey Football League. A big reason why Ocean City made the playoffs was the play and leadership of Moyer, who helped lead the Raiders to wins in two of their final three games before the state playoff cutoff date. And during a playoff loss to Hammonton, Moyer showed off another of his outstanding talents — returning kicks. “Two of his best games were against Hammonton, which was huge for us. The win got us into the playoffs, and then we had the playoff game the next week and that was just an awesome game,” Smith said. “They took a 16-14 lead late in the third quarter and on the sideline with our kick return team Jon says, ‘if they kick it to me, I’m taking it to the house.’ I said, ‘Jon, they’re not going to kick it to you.’ And damned if they didn’t kick it to him and he took it to the house.” Moyer did it all for Ocean City, offense, defense, returning kicks. He was even the team’s punter and backup quarterback. He was pressed into action early on against eventual state champion Mainland after starter Walker Bailey got hurt in the season opener. “I was playing both sides of the ball so I had to focus on everything on the offensive side and then once we have a possession on offense, then I might have to punt and go down and play defense — and it was like, ‘you gotta guard one of the best receivers in the state.’ It made me focus on what I was doing on the field at all times — there was no time to fall asleep. But it was definitely really fun playing against those kinds of guys, because it opens your eyes to what it’s going to be like in college,” Moyer said. “It’s definitely a lot, especially when you do it every single week for a couple months in a row. But I feel like it better prepares me just in case, say, our running back goes out or a safety goes down and I need to play somewhere else. I just keep my stamina so I can do whatever the coach needs me to do. I was definitely thankful that I played all the positions that I did because I got a lot of experience and it kept me in shape the whole season.” Coach Smith said he marveled at Moyer’s ability to handle it all. Although, it’s probably not that big of a surprise, considering he has a 4.6 GPA and is going to college for civil engineering. “This year, he was drawing a ton of attention. He was getting doubled a lot, he was getting jammed at the line of scrimmage. Teams were trying to be really physical with him and wear him out. And he was playing both ways. So just to be able to endure all that and stay healthy — he was just a more mature player this season,” Smith said. “When you’re best player is at practice every day giving you the best effort, that’s contagious. So he was definitely a lead-by-example kind of guy. He never took a play off at practice. He didn’t take a rep off. It was one of those situations where all I had to say to the young kids was, ‘watch Jon Moyer practice. If you if you want to be a good football player, watch what he does on the day-to-day and emulate that.’ At 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds and being a 4.5-second 40 (yard dash) kid, he has all the physical skills. But I mean, if you just watched how he went about his craft every day, you’d be really impressed.” Moyer said that when he heads off to Lafayette this summer, he’ll bring with him some fond memories of playing football in a town like Ocean City that has a long tradition, a dedicated fan base and one of the most iconic stadiums anywhere in the country. “When I first came in, I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to play but I just stayed dedicated, kept my nose down and grinded the whole season every year and things worked out,” he said. “I’m super grateful for everybody who helped me through the process, helped me through the season and all the coaches who were there for me. Our record didn’t really show too much, but I was definitely really proud about how our team performed. Even though it wasn’t a winning season, it was still fun and I made good friendships, built stronger friendships. I’m really proud I got to play for Ocean City.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: email@example.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays
Sully, as he’s known throughout South Jersey, began his newspaper career in 1995 and has worked for some of New Jersey’s top papers, including The Asbury Park Press and Press of Atlantic City, as a writer and editor. He’s earned several New Jersey Press Association awards and continues to produce high quality reporting, writing and photography.
A native of Ocean County, Sully played high school baseball at Lacey Township High and college baseball at Pfeiffer University in North Carolina. After a successful 15-year career in the newspaper business, Sully launched Glory Days Magazine in 2013 and for nearly a decade has been bringing fans outstanding and insightful coverage of high school sports throughout South Jersey.