Moody tabbed top offensive player|Mental, physical toughness fueled the Tigers’ back

Published 2:43 pm Wednesday, January 6, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Sports Writer
WILLIAMSTON — The mud sank six to seven inches deep, swallowing up the ankles and calves of every Seahawk and Tiger football player that took the field at Williamston High School for the teams’ NCAA 1-A first-round playoff battle on a cool mid-November night.
Heavy rain from the previous day had saturated the playing surface as the once-green grass melded with the mud. By halftime the conditions had gotten so bad that running at full-speed was no longer an option for all the players on the field — all except one.
Williamston’s Cedric Moody defied logic, stiff-arming away the notion that mud games just have to be about three-yard gains as he ran for a mind-blowing 239 yards on a mere 12 carries and scored four touchdowns to lead the Tigers to a 60-18 playoff victory over the Four Rivers Conference rival Seahawks.
That effort and production was indicative of what Williamston head coach Asim McGill had received from his star senior running back all season, and the reason why the Washington Daily News named Moody the offensive player of the year.
The Tigers’ elusive back out-gained everybody in the area as he ran for 1,959 yards on only 210 carries, while reaching the end zone 28 times. Moody also hit on eight of his 26 pass attempts for 243 yards and three scores.
By the end of his senior year Moody’s ability to buck odds was just as good as his ability to shed tacklers. That’s because he has been practicing both for a while.
His first extraordinary act started at the beginning of last season when he severely hurt his knee in the second game of the year, only to try and make a heroic comeback two games later. Though the courage was there, it could not heal a torn ACL, and the speedy tailback was sidelined for the rest of the 2008 season. The injury forced him to look on as his teammates made it all the way to the state championship game.
That experience only added fuel to Moody’s fire.
“That motivated me a lot,” Moody said. “Knowing my senior year was coming up I hit the weights a lot … You know I had to do it big.”
That he did as the chiseled 5-8, 165-pound back worked his knee back into playing shape fast enough for him to appear in the 2009 season opener.
Moody admitted the fear of a reoccurring injury lingered as he took the field, but he juked past the fear.
“I was just kind of scared that I might twist it again,” Moody said. “As it went on it felt better … I didn’t really trust it until the third game of the year.”
Despite not trusting the tread on his tire Moody raced off for 153 yards on 13 carries in the season-opener against Ayden-Grifton.
“It’s like a I tell people all the time, Cedric is a big-time player in high school sports,” McGill said. “Coaching is good, but I think sometimes coaching can be a bit over-rated. If you have a good players usually you have a pretty good team, but Cedric just meant a whole lot to this team.”
Because of Moody’s sub-4.5 40 times, McGill said the average observer tends to dismiss just how much of a complete back he is, and said that the Barry Sanders disciple has the power to match his speed.
“You look at him, and yeah he is about 165 pounds, but he is a strong kid,” McGill said. “You can take him to the weight room and he will power-clean 245 pounds. For a kid who ways 165 pounds to power-clean 245 is strong. A lot of times people think he is just fast and little but if you looked at some of his games he would run over people too … he is deceivingly strong.”
The combination of physical and mental strength made Moody the ultimate weapon in 2009. In the last game of the regular season against arch-rival Roanoke, Moody put his physical tools on display as he rushed for 345 yards on 11 carries for six TDs. The next weekend he flexed his mental muscles when he pushed aside the potential for another knee injury to rush for 239 yards and four touchdowns in the mud on a cool night in mid-November.