Rifle Bear on the fly: Moeller knows how to score
The numbers are staggering — 1,307 yards and 21 touchdowns in five games.
More accurately, it’s taken Rifle’s Ryan Moeller only five games, playing just a half in some of them, to produce such yardage.
Then come the questions. The criticisms. Are Moeller’s numbers legitimate?
“I feel confident that most college guys are looking at those numbers and thinking, ‘No way,’ ” Rifle head coach Damon Wells said.
Way. Moeller is 6-foot, 195-pounds, and he placed third in the CHSAA Class 3A state track meet with an 11.19-second 100-yard dash. He has the school’s top weight-lifting marks this season with maxes of 275 pounds on bench press and power clean and 605 pounds on squat. Wells says Moeller will run past, around and through tacklers, and his vision and patience following blockers continues to improve. He is humble. So, where’s the weakness?
Better question: Where are the scholarship offers? Moeller has received interest from Colorado Mesa University, Colorado State University-Pueblo and CSU, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boise State University, University of Northern Colorado, University of Wyoming and Adams State University.
CMU is the only school to offer him a scholarship so far, Moeller said.
“He’s had quite a few people call and say they’re interested,” Wells said. “He’d love to go to CU-Boulder. We’ve done everything we know to let them know that, but we can’t comment on their lack of interest. He’d go there in a second. I don’t get it.”
What could they be thinking?
“They might look at those numbers and think, ‘Wow, Western Slope,’ ” Wells said.
Colorado Mesa University coach Russ Martin said the Mavericks will recruit Moeller, but he is not allowed by NCAA rules to discuss why.
Moeller, who plans on adding to his numbers Thursday in a Class 3A showdown between the No. 1 Bears and No. 2 Palisade Bulldogs at Stocker Stadium, said he’d like to attend a college on the Front Range.
“I had an offer from Mesa,” Moeller said. “I just want to keep my options open because I don’t really have more than one offer now than CMU.”
Maybe he’s waiting for more college coaches and scouts to believe the numbers. They should understand, they’re not a sudden phenomena. As a freshman, Moeller had one varsity carry. He took it 72 yards to the house.
“He gets vertical, and he knows how to score,” Palisade coach John Arledge said. “So, you’re dealing with a kid over 6 feet tall, and he’s 200 pounds; he’s a big kid, and he runs fast like a little kid. He’s got size and speed, and he’s got the right demeanor. I don’t know if he has a true weakness.”
Moeller runs out of the wing-T offense and said one of his favorite plays to run is a power right or left.
“I like having a fullback to go off,” Moeller said, “because when you get that lead back you can watch somebody get popped pretty good, and that gets me excited a bit, hearing someone’s helmet crack. It’s a little exhilarating, really.”
The wing-T allows many pulling linemen to get ahead of Moeller. One of the few ways to slow it is hope for snow. After Rifle went 11-0 last season heading into the quarterfinals, that’s what Windsor got — lots of snow to slow the Bears’ pulling guards and make Moeller lag behind.
“I think (Moeller) also tweaked a hamstring and was never the same,” Windsor coach Chris Jones said. “That was one of those games where they knew where they were going, and with them pulling as much as they pull in that wing-T, their pulls were slow because of the snow, and that helped us.”
Windsor won 36-15.
But since then, Moeller continued to improve his speed and strength, and last spring in the 3A state track meet he also placed second in the triple jump, going 44 feet, 10.5 inches — more than enough for a first down.
Those skills don’t always transfer to the field, however. Moeller learned a long time ago to avoid going airborne over a tackler.
“When I was a freshman I tried to jump somebody, and I was pretty fortunate not to get my legs clipped out from under me,” Moeller said. “It was a little scary. Sometimes it’s hard to fight instincts, but I’ve decided to stick to the ground.”
Meanwhile, some teammates try to catch up.
“When he breaks a big run in a game, sometimes I’ll try to race him,” Bears right tackle Eli Boone said, “and he flat-out beats me every time. I don’t know if it’s much of a race.”
Moeller hopes a new race will begin: a recruiting race. It remains to be seen how many schools believe in those mind-churning numbers.
“I think he’ll probably go Division I,” Coal Ridge coach Kyle Sager said, “and we could see him on Saturdays.”