There were three years when Pat Moser had time to fish. Not so coincidentally, it came when he wasn’t coaching football.
That changed when he took over at Orange in July 2009,
“I haven’t picked up a pole in years,” said Moser.
After this year, he’ll have time for it.
“I can’t wait,” said Moser.
Moser’s upcoming season at Orange will be his eighth. He says it will also be his last.
“My youngest son, Gray, is going to graduate next summer (from Orange),” said Moser. “I have enough sick days where I can retire June 30th. Right now, that’s the plan.”
Since 2012, Orange has gone 47-9 under Moser. They also captured the 2015 Big 8 Conference Championship after Southern Durham forfeited its final regular season win and four playoff games, including an appearance in the 3-AA state final, due to use of an ineligible player.
With Moser’s upcoming retirement, the Panthers aren’t losing a coach. They’re losing someone who revived a dormant program.
Orange didn’t have a winning season between 1993-2007. Dickie Schock led the Panthers to a 8-5 campaign in 2008, and its first playoff birth since 1991. Schock promptly left for Rocky Mount.
That’s when Orange turned to Moser, who had been out of coaching for three seasons. Moser had coached Graham to the 2000 1-A State Championship, and led them to the 1-A Eastern Regional championship the year before. However, by the time he arrived in Hillsborough, he hadn’t coached in three seasons because of Pancreatitis caused by a gall stone. Moser, who lost over 100 pounds during his three seasons away from coaching, thought long and hard before deciding to return.
Orange fans had felt big expectations from an incoming state championship coach before. In 1998, Mike Stewart, who had won captured two 4A state championships with Shelby Crest, arrived in Hillsborough when the Panthers were the only team in town, Northern Durham still ruled the PAC-6 conference and only 32 teams made the playoffs in each classification (Now it’s 64).
Stewart arrived with a swagger and an interview style that would have made Ric Flair proud. He left in 2001 after three forgettable seasons.
At first, it appeared Moser might follow the same pattern. His first two teams went 6-6 and 2-8. However, the final game of the 2009 season hinted at something bigger ahead when they won at Chapel Hill, dashing the Tigers’ playoff hopes on the final night of the season.
Moser’s former assistants at Graham, defensive coordinator Van Smith and offensive coordinator Mike McCauley, arrived in 2011 for another 6-6 season. Since then, they’ve won at least 11 games each of the last four seasons.
Moser’s final season will be unique. McCauley has taken over as Athletic Director for Earnie Price,who retired last month. So Moser will take over as offensive coordinator.
“I figure me calling plays is a fitting way for me to go out,” said Moser.