Moore on Josh Sams: Basically we just hired the Mayor of Tuff Street


Josh Sams always believed he’d be a football coach. Until this season, he never felt the time was right.

But a dinner with his former coach — Bryan Moore — at Thomas More College convinced the 2004 graduate of Wilmington High School that now was the time to coach.

Sams is an assistant coach for the Wilmington College football team. He works with the linebackers. Moore is in his first year as the head coach at WC.

“I didn’t even know he took the (WC) job until I saw it in the paper,” said Sams. “Then I got a message from him ‘Do you want to go to dinner.’ The light bulb went off.”

And a coaching career was all but launched. Sams, Moore and the rest of the Wilmington College coaches and players will begin their season 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Townsend Field against Earlham. It will be Military Appreciation Day.

Sams was a football player at Wilmington High School. He played for Rob Vida and graduated from WHS in 2004. Sams was a spark plug who played linebacker and quarterback.

He and his friend Brett Smith visited Thomas More one day and knew that was the place to go to college.

“I fully intended to play another four years in college,” Sams said. “I had several letters (from other schools) but Brett and I like the area (around Thomas More). We were 18 and didn’t know any better. We hopped on the first bid and went with it.”

Moore coached special teams while Sams was a player at TMC in 2004 and 2005.

“When Josh was there, I remember him being fiery,” said Moore. “He was a kid that every coach loved. He was as tough as they come and competed and that’s what a coach wants out of every kid. He was that perfect combination. He was a fun kid to be around. He worked hard every day.”

Sams said Moore was a “pit bull back in those days.”

“He was very passionate about football,” Sams said of Moore.

While football remained an integral part of Sams’ life, the classroom part of college life wasn’t working out so well.

“I knew I didn’t want to go back to school,” Sams said. “I was getting bored with it. I wasn’t mentally … I didn’t want to be back in the classroom. I needed to do something else.”

So Sams turned to the United States Marine Corps. That’s where Sams’ life changed … dramatically.

While on his third deployment with the Marines in 2012, Sams stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) during a routine foot patrol in Kajaki, Afghanistan.

The explosion resulted in Sams suffering a broken arm, a broken pelvis and the loss of both his legs. After years in hospitals abroad and then at home, Sams returned to Wilmington to begin the rest of his life.

After years of hard work, Sams is able to lead an active lifestyle, walking on prosthetic legs. He also goes fishing, hunting, four-wheeling and many other outdoor activities.

And now coaching.

Wilmington High School football coach Scott Killen asked Sams to coach on his staff in 2014. Sams admits he wanted to help the Hurricane, but the timing wasn’t right. He had just returned to Wilmington, was having a custom house built and wanted to get to work on his degree in criminal justice.

“I was pretty fresh on my prosthetics,” Sams said. “I was kind of going in a different direction. I wasn’t thinking about jumping into it (coaching) at the time but the seed had been planted.”

Then along came a dinner three years later with Moore and his defensive coordinator Corey Fillipovich.

“We had a great talk,” Sams said. “Coach Filly, I liked his presence.”

The fortunes of Wilmington College football have not been good in recent years and in his first season at the helm Moore wasn’t completely convinced hiring someone with neither legs nor coaching experience was a slam dunk idea. But the more he thought about it, the more certain he was Sams and the Quakers were a perfect fit.

“Obviously there are some things I can’t do,” Sams said. “But I’m not afraid to trying anything new. There’s brilliance in the basics.”

Moore said Sams’ position as a coach is real, not merely a sympathy gesture to a war hero. He wants to use Sams to turn this football program around. It won’t be an easy task. The row to hoe in this case is a “Tuff Street.” Moore uses that notion when addressing his team.

“We don’t want Josh to be a mascot,” Moore said. “The guy knows football. He has a fire in his belly. He doesn’t want us to just give him something and we’re not going to put him in any embarrassing situations.

“This is not a charity event. It’s a great relationship I have with him, one that I cherish and he knows the game of football. It’s a perfect match.

“We preach ‘Tuff Street’ around here. He’s a great kid to push the mantra we are trying to get with our culture. Basically we just hired the Mayor of Tuff Street.”

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Josh Sams is a linebackers coach for the Wilmington College football team.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/08/web1_FBC_samsday2.jpgJosh Sams is a linebackers coach for the Wilmington College football team.

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Josh Sams is an assistant football coach at Wilmington College. A war hero who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2012, Sams and the Quakers will begin the season 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Townsend Field against Earlham.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/08/web1_Sams_Main_Art.jpgJosh Sams is an assistant football coach at Wilmington College. A war hero who lost both of his legs in Afghanistan in 2012, Sams and the Quakers will begin the season 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Townsend Field against Earlham.

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Former Hurricane in first year coaching football at Wilmington College