A community in Prince William County, Virginia, is mourning the loss of a beloved football coach and teacher who died Friday after suffering a medical emergency on the sidelines of a game.
Fred Moore, defensive coordinator at Woodbridge Senior High School, died just a few weeks into the new season. He was 33.
Moore was a coach, educator and husband.
“[He was an] incredible math teacher. Students loved him. Our staff loved him,” Heather Abney, the high school’s principal, said.
The stands were packed on Friday night for the high school’s first home game against Massaponax High School, but the festive mood quickly turned somber when Moore collapsed in the third quarter.
Head coach James Longerbeam and Moore had taken to the field to talk to the defense.
"As we were coming back I got to the sidelines, I looked and he was on the ground," Longerbeam said.
A capacity crowd watched in horror as trainers from both teams and some people from the stands rushed to the 35 yard line where Moore lay. Someone began CPR and others prayed before paramedics arrived and rushed him to a hospital.
Abney was at the game.
“Everyone in the stands stopped what they were doing when this happened and we saw our players kneel in prayer. We saw the other team come to support us,” she said.
Moore died at the hospital. An exact cause of death was not immediately available.
As word got back to the field that Moore had died, thoughts of football were sidelined, replaced by shock and disbelief.
“He was in better shape than some of the kids, to be honest with you. He was always active, always moving,” assistant coach Jonathan Allen said. "He was one of those guys that even in the rain, you knew his smile was the sunshine that you needed."
Those who knew him best said Moore watched his diet, set an example for the players and was also a popular math teacher. Now, the hole he leaves behind extends beyond the football field and into the classroom, where Moore was also known for his generosity and dedication to students.
“Just incredible — the positive impact that Mr. Moore had on so many,” Abney said.
Students and colleagues posted tributes and expressed their grief online. One student said Moore would always help them with math work, and “I just hope his wife is doing OK.”
Mrs. Moore was at the game and with her husband in his final moments.
“She had come to the game to surprise her husband. So we were there to support his wife through this,” Abney said.
Saturday night, Abney relayed a message from Mrs. Moore.
“I asked her, ‘What would you like our community to know about your husband?’ and she said, ‘I want everyone to know that he passed away doing what he loves and that he loved our football players so much,’” Abney said.
The school is planning a memorial service in honor of Moore, and his funeral will be held in his home state of Alabama. Abney said grief counselors would be at the school this week.
The team's next home game is Friday night. One thing is certain about the season going forward.
"He’s not going to be replaced. You can’t replace a guy like that. There’s nothing you can do, that’s a void that we can’t fill," Allen said.