Jim Moran played fullback at Stepinac and grew up in Hastings, but says he "was as familiar as a Hastings kid could be with Dobbs Ferry football." The former Rye Country Day assistant coach will try to guide the Eagles back to the state playoffs. Seth Harrison/The Journal News / Seth Harrison/The Journal News
DOBBS FERRY — Although Jim Moran still hasn't enjoyed such a moment, he knows it's coming, the type of meet-and-greet unique to a town that rejoices and agonizes over a sport, like something out of the movie "Hoosiers."
Grandma Jane delighting in a halfback pass. Uncle Bob trashing a porous pass defense. Cousin Dave championing the wing-T.
"It's a good pressure," Moran said recently from inside a basement office at Dobbs Ferry High School. "You want to be in a place that has high expectations. I think it's easier to go to a place where no one really cares if you win or lose. Now, I'm in a place where the town grocer cares if you win. It's different, but it's a good different. I think I'll like it."
Moran will know for sure soon enough. Last month, the 38-year-old former Rye Country Day assistant was named the new coach of the tradition-rich Eagles, whose three state championships tie Rye and Edgemont for the most by a Section 1 team since the state football tournament was adopted in 1993.
Moran replaced Chris Wagner, who coached the last five seasons at Dobbs Ferry. Wagner won a state championship in 2006 and reached the state final in 2007, but his teams fell short of a Section 1 title in each of the last three seasons. It snapped a state-record streak of seven straight trips to the state playoffs.
In his search for a replacement, Dobbs Ferry athletic director Jim Lindsay conducted multiple rounds of interviews. He was wowed by Moran since their first meeting.
"He just came across really well," Lindsay said. "When I interviewed him, he came across like a college coach."
High school, college and post-college life took Moran mostly away from the Rivertowns, but he said he has long admired Dobbs Ferry's dedication to football.
He was raised in Hastings and lived there as he developed into a two-time 1,000-yard rusher at Stepinac. Moran, who went on to play two seasons for the University at Albany, now lives with his wife and three children in Nanuet. He teaches first grade at Columbus Elementary in New Rochelle