RICHLANDS, Va. - Race Moir wasn’t focused on offense when he arrived at Richlands High School.
“In my freshman year, I was the fourth string quarterback,” Moir said. “I just figured that I would stay at defensive end.”
Flash forward to tonight’s battle for Southwest District football supremacy between Richlands (4-3, 2-0) and Graham (6-1, 3-0) at Mitchell Stadium.
The quarterback matchup will pit Moir (6-2, 220) against Purdue-bound Cam Allen (6-2, 185).
“I didn’t really expect all this,” Moir said.
In a region where football is king and youth football travel teams are becoming more common, Moir took a different route to small town stardom.
“I didn’t play any football until eighth grade,” Moir said. “I was a basketball player growing up and my parents just wanted me to concentrate on that spot.”
Moir was a quick learner in football. By his sophomore year, he had moved up to third string on the quarterback depth chart while also starring on defense.
It wasn’t long before Richlands head coach Greg Mance, known as the Southwest Virginia version of the “Quarterback Whisperer,” had an idea that he soon weaved into some magic.
Before last season, Mance taught Moir the basics of a new position. Trey Brown began the season at quarterback, but Moir gradually earned playing time where he brought a new dimension with his powerful arm.
Brown and Moir combined for nine touchdown passes as juniors, with Brown finishing the season as the leading rusher for the Blue Tornado.
“Trey and I rotated at quarterback pretty much the whole season,” said Moir, a three-year starter at tight end and defensive end. “It worked out. Trey has done a heck of a job at running back.”
Moir has thrown for 1,159 yards this season with 14 touchdowns while also rushing for 189 yards. Brown (5-11, 200) has contributed 566 yards on the ground with four scores.
“It’s a team effort on our offense,” Moir said. “My line gives me a ton of time to work, Trey never goes down on the first hit, and I have some of the best receivers in the state. Having that balance takes pressure off me.”
The primary target for Moir is Taylor Horn, an athletic 6-2 senior who has 21 receptions for 468 yards and eight scores despite missing a game with an elbow injury. Moir can also pick and choose between speedy 5-11 freshman Sage Webb (19 rec., 213 yards), 6-5 senior Jakob Cole (17 rec., 260 yards) and 5-10 junior Logan Altizer, who has 16 receptions for 134 yards.
According to Mance, Moir has the essentials for success as the director of the Blue Tornado spread attack.
“Race has a cannon for an arm and he’s smart,” Mance said. “Race can get a little hyper at times when he lets his intensity and defensive mindset carry over to the offense.”
Moir earned second-team All-Region D honors at tight end last season after catching 16 passes for 182 yards. He was also a first team All-Region 2D West pick at defensive end where he collected 72 tackles with nine sacks.
“Race is fine when he lets the game come to him and doesn’t try to force things,” Mance said.
Moir displayed his potential in a Sept. 21 matchup at powerful William Byrd, where he passed for 310 yards and three scores to Horn in a 27-21 statement victory.
An honor student with an interest in Ivy League and military schools, Moir said he’s intent to learn more about the nuances of the quarterback position from his mentor.
“Coach Mance is obviously one of the best coaches around,” Moir said. “I’m constantly learning from him, and we try to put something new in the offense every other week. I’m the type of quarterback that likes to run and throw, but there’s always room for improvement.”
According to Mance, Moir is a coach’s dream because of his versatility.
“Race could excel at running back, defensive back, or on the line,” Mance said. “He just understands the game and loves to compete.”
Moir said he has no regrets about not playing football at a younger age. He just wants to make the most of his current opportunity.
“I don’t look back,” said Moir, who is a standout forward on the Richlands basketball team. “I just want to do whatever I can to make good things happen and help my team win.”