Benjie Moore walked to midfield at halftime of Harlem Middle School's final football game this season and sheepishly took the microphone.
The Bulldogs coach, who is retiring on Feb. 27 after 24 years teaching and coaching, wasn't aware he'd be recognized.
"I appreciate you all coming out today," he told the Harlem crowd Tuesday. "It's been a pretty good run, but it's time for me to go somewhere else." And that was all.
Harlem Middle principal Carla Shelton presented Moore with a plaque, and he returned to his players on the sideline. The Bulldogs then wrapped up a loss to Grovetown.
On the sideline for the Patriots was coach Dan Sneeringer, who started his career on Moore's staff at Harlem Middle.
"He's like a papa to me," Sneeringer said.
Moore and Sneeringer posed for pictures at midfield after the game. Sneeringer joked that Moore could assist him next year, even if the 54-year-old Moore might be lying on his back by then. Moore told him the only place he'd be lying was in a boat.
"I figure I better retire while I'm still young enough to go do stuff," Moore said. "Sell a little real estate and do a lot of fishing."
Harlem Middle athletic director George Berry joined the school four years after Moore. The two have been coaching together 20 years.
Berry said his friend might have come to the realization that teaching and coaching are better suited for a younger generation.
"Times have changed," Berry said.
Harlem had only two other county middle schools to compete with when Moore started coaching -- Columbia and Evans.
"Back then, we were the dominating team," Moore said.
As the school landscape changed, so did the parity in the athletic programs. The ups and downs were evident Tuesday. The Patriots, winless a year ago, beat the Bulldogs for their fifth win of the season. Grovetown benefited from a team full of fresh faces after rezoning.
The Patriots' turnaround finished at the expense of Moore, who, along with Berry, helped show Sneeringer the football ropes.
"He didn't know a whole lot about football," Berry said. "Everything he learned, he learned from Benjie."
Moore grew up in Harlem, attended Harlem schools and returned to coach after graduating from Georgia Southern.
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