In May 2005, longtime high school football coach George Moser approached his new local high school, Dawson County High School, with his mind set on talking to their head coach on becoming a part of his coaching staff.
“I had been coaching since 1986 and I told my sons I wasn’t going to coach anymore,” Moser said. “But around May, I realized there’s a football season that’s about to start and I’m not a part of it.”
Though Moser grew up in Dawsonville, he had not called it him until Sept. 2004. He had spent time coaching in Alpharetta with Chattahoochee High School and a few years at Northview and Blessed Trinity.
Moser approached then head coach Jeff Lee, who was mowing the football field at the time, and asked if he could be a part of the coaching staff. He had 18 years of experience at the time and did not want any money.
“[Lee] kind of looked at me like I was crazy,” Moser said. “But I never wanted any money from it. I made my money somewhere else. He just said ‘Yeah, of course you have a spot,’ knowing since I was not taking any pay, he could just fire me if I was a bad coach.”
Seventeen years later, Moser still shows up to every Tigers football game, missing only three games since taking the job, and that was for his son’s wedding and coronavirus quarantines. He has shared 15 of those years with fellow community coach, Gary Wilson.
“Every year, we talk about retiring but we never do,” Wilson said in a phone interview. “Let me tell you something though, [Moser] is one of the most energetic people I’ve ever met. We call him Jumpin’ George since he’s always bouncing around.”
Moser and Wilson have grown into quite a friendship over their 15 years coaching at Dawson County together. Both were concerned when current head coach Sid Maxwell took over, they might be left off the coaching staff, but Moser said Maxwell welcomed them with open arms.
In that first year under Maxwell, the Tigers won a region championship and advanced to the Elite Eight in the GHSA state tournament, Moser’s favorite memory during his time at DCHS.
Wilson said, however, one of the things he most admired about Moser happened one day in the locker room. Moser showed up and told the coaching staff and team that he had been diagnosed with stage-three stomach cancer.
“[Moser] was the one consoling people,” Wilson said. “I mean, he told us with a smile on his face. People were coming up and hugging him and he just had a confidence about him that he was tougher than it.”
Just a few months after recovering from COVID-19, Moser realized that he was unable to fully digest the things he was eating in Jan. 2021. After going to a gastrointestinal doctor, Moser first learned of his diagnosis.
Moser’s daughter-in-law is a doctor at Emory Hospital, who linked him up with their top stomach doctor, who determined the best plan of action would be to do one round of chemotherapy, perform a surgery to remove Moser’s entire stomach and then another round of chemotherapy.
“It’s been tough,” Moser said. “I’ve gone through my whole life hearing of people who had been diagnosed but never thought anything of it. Now, that it’s happening to me, it’s completely different. I wish I could change how I acted before.”
Though he has already gone through his first round of chemotherapy and is just a few weeks away from his surgery, Moser still finds himself escaping reality the best way he know how: at the DCHS football field.
“I’ve always loved football,” Moser said. I love the competition and I love the kids. It keeps you young. When you’re around 17-year-olds, your brain becomes 17...your body doesn’t though. In 67 years of life, 52 of them have been spent on the sidelines of a high school football game on Friday nights in the fall.”
In fact, Moser and his doctor have discussed pushing his surgery back an additional week so he would be able to coach one more game.
Despite everything the world is throwing his way, Moser said he will always coach football as long as he can. He retired from his job selling construction equipment in Oct. 2020 and has been coming to more practices and is not looking forward to missing everything with the team while in recovery.
The Dawson County football team has rallied around Moser during this time, providing him with verbal encouragement and even putting a patch on their helmets in support of his battle with stomach cancer, something Moser said he thought was “the coolest thing.”
“I wouldn’t change anything,” Moser said. “I’m going to survive. There’s no way I’d miss us beating North Hall.”