Calling it a career: Coach Mo leaves South a legend

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Paul Pedersen

John Kelly, Editor

After 34 years, head football coach Mo Moriarity has decided to call it a career.

The journey began in 1981 at Fountain Central High School as an assistant, before quickly getting a head coaching job in 1982 with Lakeland High School. In his five seasons at Lakeland, Moriarity would post a 40-11 record, earning him a bigger job, closer to home, at Bloomington South. 

The success would only take off even more at South, as Moriarity would lead the Panthers to an 8-1 record in his first season with the Panthers. It was officially the Mo Moriarity era in Bloomington. Moriarity and the Panthers would dominate in the ’90s, appearing in three state championships and winning two. Coach Mo would produce two Mr. Football award winners with Bo Barzilauskas winning in 1993, and Rex Grossman winning in 1998, respectively.

Moriarity would leave South in 2002 for an opportunity to coach collegiately at Indiana University, where he spent three seasons as the tight ends coach. After head coach Gerry DiNardo was fired from Indiana, Moriarity would return to coaching high school football at Carmel. 

Moriarity would see tremendous success at Carmel, producing a winning record in all five seasons and appearing in four state championships, winning one. 

Another opportunity to join Bill Lynch’s coaching staff at IU would bring Moriarity back for a second stint. However, his time at Indiana would only last one season. 

“I was exposed to a lot of football at IU. You get to play against a lot of good competition and learn a lot of football. I got the opportunity to develop many more relationships. It’s great because I have friends coaching every level of football all across the country” said Moriarity. “College players are actually similar to high school players in a lot of ways. Some of them are far away from home so they rely on their college coaches like they would their high school coaches.”

After a short pit stop at Salem High School, Coach Moriarity was brought back to Bloomington South to turn the program around. And that’s exactly what he did.

“When I came back to South in 2013, I heard the kids were awful and how much things had changed, and I just kind of laughed at it. I don’t think players are any different today then they were my first year as a head coach in 1982. What around them has changed. I believe if you demand discipline and make sure they know you truly care about them, then you can accomplish about anything,” said Moriarity.

After a 4-7 rebuilding season in 2013, the Panthers were a force to be reckoned with. Bloomington South would win six straight sectional titles and three regional titles under the leadership of Moriarity. 

“I’m glad I was able to finish my career at Bloomington South because this is what I call home. My wife and I plan on living here the rest of our lives, it’s just home. It was special to be able to finish here,” said Moriarity. 

He had told his players on Monday that the plan was to go five more years and then retire, but Moriarity went seven as his love for coaching took him two more years.

“It’s very rewarding. The thing about coaching is the relationships that you develop with coaches, opposing coaches, and players is special. I don’t know many other jobs where you get to build the kind of relationships you do as a football coach,” said Moriarity.

Moriarity posted a 305-101 record (.751) as a head coach, is fifth all time in wins, and was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 2016.

“Winning state championships is special. But even more than that is still connecting with old players. Getting invited to former players weddings, that’s pretty special.”

A true coaching legend that cared about every single kid he coached. From every player, student, coach, parent, and fan, thank you, Coach Mo.