PHILADELPHIA, Miss. (WTOK) Eli Moran has played football for Neshoba Central since his freshman year but saw his first opportunity to start for the team his sophomore year.
“My freshman year I was actually a tackle and then going into my sophomore year I was still a backup tackle," Moran said. "But then our starting right guard got hurt and was out for the year and that’s when I started playing.”
This past season, Moran helped lead an offensive that scored 467 points and made it all the way to the MHSAA 5A Semifinals before falling to West Point.
During Moran’s freshman season under new head coach Patrick Schoolar, the Rockets went 5-7. In just three short years, they were crowned district champs and made a solid postseason push.
Moran shared that while the team had very little success when he first started playing, things soon began to click.
“In those first couple years you just kind of lose a little bit of faith and you’re not quite sure if it’s really all worth it," Moran said. "But then last year, my junior year, we really saw what we could do and went into that offseason and just worked harder.”
Coach Schoolar shared how the team’s success can be attributed to guys like Moran who stepped up and helped lead the team when needed most.
“It’s individual guys like Eli who kind of set the tone for everybody else," Coach Schoolar said. "His ability to show up every day and go to work…he’s no nonsense, no questions asked just whatever we want done he has a ‘do it’ type mentality.”
Moran has also set an example academically, ranked fourth in his class with a 4.38 GPA. Along with juggling school and football, he is also involved in Beta Club, FBLA, National Honor Society and Science Club.
Neshoba Central athletic director Tommy Holland says Moran is an individual that sticks out from the crowd.
“When you think of that senior class, of course I’ve known him for so long, but that’s who I think of," Holland said. "There’s other kids in that class that are huge contributors also but he’s that guy that teacher says ‘I wish I had 100 of him’ or that coach says ‘I wish I had 100 of him’ because he is always going to give you 110%.”
Coach Schoolar elaborated on how Moran also separates himself from others on the football team.
“He is a high character kid. Very accountable. He’s one of those kids we could have called to practice at 2:22 in the morning and he would have been here at 2 o’clock in the morning," Coach Schoolar said. "He’ll be on time, he’ll be punctual and he’ll come in ready to work every day.”
When asked what’s next for him, Moran already has big plans in mind.
"I plan on attending Mississippi State next year and I’m going to be in the honors college," Moran said. "I want to major in civil engineering and I guess the rest...I just figure it out from there.”