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Lewisburg’s Moyers returns a year after tearing ACL

As an assistant coach at Mount Carmel, Marc Persing was surprised when he saw the Red Tornadoes’ junior high team take a beating from Lewisburg the night before. He asked one of the junior high coaches what happened.

The coach told Persing about a running back from Lewisburg who torched the Mount Carmel defense. It was Persing’s introduction to Max Moyers. And it was a name he didn’t forget when the Green Dragons’ varsity coaching job came open a couple years later.

Moyers was poised to be a freshman on the Lewisburg football team when Persing applied for, and was subsequently hired, the Lewisburg head coaching job. On the first day of fall practice, Persing got a first-hand glimpse of what the Mount Carmel junior high coaches had seen.

“It was literally our first day in pads,” Persing said. “It was a simple iso play and he pressed the hole and took off to another gear. I looked at my assistant and said, ‘well that was easy, he’s our running back.'”

There was much ballyhooed hype around Moyers as he approached high school. He was a physical specimen, squatting close to 400 pounds as a freshman. He was fast enough to earn a speeding ticket if he ran down Route 15 through Lewisburg. But Persing couldn’t help but be skeptical.

For all the physical gifts he had, Moyers was still a 14-year-old freshman preparing to play against physically mature 17- and 18-year olds. But it was in the moment of the first practice play where all of Persing’s concerns were erased. The hype was real.

Moyers proved it again on his first varsity carry against Hughesville when he went the distance from 78 yards to give Lewisburg a 7-0 lead 19 seconds into the game.

“That’s just a preview of Max’s career,” Lewisburg’s Dylan Farronato said after Moyers ran for 96 yards that night at Christy Mathewson Stadium. “That kid is a freak.”

Moyers is still the same freak of nature he was as a freshman. But now, entering his senior season he still has something to prove. A running back with nearly 4,000 career rushing yards still doesn’t have a college home. That’s because Moyers is coming off a six-game junior season which ended when he tore his ACL on his first carry against Bloomsburg in Week 6.

Persing has learned not to question Moyers’ capabilities though. Just under a full year removed from the injury and subsequent surgery, Persing is confident the Moyers he’ll have in his backfield this fall is the same one who had a 2,000-yard season as a sophomore two years ago.

“There is no apprehension at all with throwing him right back in there,” Persing said. “He’s a physical specimen. He looks like nothing ever happened. He makes cuts like it’s nothing. He’s a bigger, faster, stronger Max. And that’s scary.”

Moyers is a player of few words. His actions speak far louder. He’s helped change the entire atmosphere around Lewisburg football not by what he says, but by what he does.

In the weight room, there’s no joking around between sets. There’s only a focus on the next rep. While he may not say much, there’s an intense focus is everything Moyers is doing.

He doesn’t see himself as the running back who has averaged better than 7 yards per carry during his career. He sees himself as a running back still needing to prove himself to the coaches who can offer him a spot on a college team next fall.

It’s why he’s been laser-focused on this season since the day of his knee surgery. He grinded through physical therapy five days a week thinking ahead to August and September. He lived in the weight room to put back on the 30 pounds he lost in the recovery process from surgery.

“At first, I kinda felt like this process would take forever,” Moyers said. “But I’ve been chugging away each day. Even on the days where I didn’t want to go to physical therapy, you tell yourself you have to go. And each day you focus on getting just a little better than you were the day before.”

It was only three or four weeks after surgery Moyers was back to working out. After seven months Persing was receiving videos of Moyers running and cutting at Christy Mathewson Stadium. Then videos started to pop up on Twitter of Moyers’ weight-lifting workouts.

There was the one with five bench press reps of 300 pounds in early January. There was the late February one with him benching 225 pounds 21 times. There were the four squat reps of 405 pounds less than 5 months out from his injury. There was the April 1 max squat of 505 pounds.

He redeveloped the muscle mass he lost in his leg following the injury. He boosted his weight to just over 200 pounds on his 5-foot, 10-inch frame while maintaining the 4.4 40-yard dash speed he helped build while working with Tom Hughes at VaporTrail 24/7 in Bloomsburg.

“A lot of the schools I was talking to (before the injury) pushed me aside a bit and haven’t been talking to me as much,” Moyers said. “I use it as motivation to get better every day and prove to everyone I’m still the same player. I wanted to make sure when I came to camp I was prepared. My main motivation for everything I’ve done to get here is to prove people wrong and prove to myself that I can overcome obstacles thrown my way.”

“We’ve laughed a few times because we’ve had some safeties who have stepped out of the way at practice when he’s coming at them because they didn’t want to get involved,” Persing said. “Standing 15 or 20 yards back, you want to blow the whistle and rip into the safety. But at the same time, you get it.”

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