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Valley / Ventura County Sports

Loudmouth, Smash-mouth

Moore talks trash but backs it up with aggressive, physical play at cornerback for Cal State Northridge.

November 07, 1998|FERNANDO DOMINGUEZ | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — He tip-toes to the line of scrimmage, eyes locked on the receiver, the verbal salvos busting through the rubber mouthpiece.

"Are you even gonna try to get open?" Chazz Moore asks. "Can you run any faster?"

Moore, a junior cornerback for Cal State Northridge, doesn't care about the answers. All he wants is an edge in the fine art of football upmanship.

"I like to get in my opponent's ear," Moore said. "I think every cornerback does. It's just little things to get into their heads and make them slip up. I consider it psychological warfare."

Moore, 6 feet 3 and 210 pounds, is always ready for battle. While many defensive backs like to banter, including several at Northridge, Moore thrives on it.

His mouth probably will be in overdrive today when the Matadors (5-3, 4-2 in conference play) host Portland State (5-3, 4-2) in a Big Sky Conference game at North Campus Stadium.

Moore was born in Portland, played in high school there and knows some of the Vikings. He is expecting about 15 relatives at the game, so he is--what else?--roaring to go.

"It's a little bit more motivation for me, a little bit more eagerness to perform," Moore said. "I always thought we couldn't lose this game, but now even more."

The stakes are high. The winner stays in the race for the Big Sky title and a possible spot in the Division I-AA playoffs. The loser is out of contention.

It is Northridge's final home game and Moore, like his teammates, is aiming hard at Portland State. Even if the Viking he's covering is a lifelong pal, Moore says he's going all out.

"In the game, I don't know you," Moore said. "I'm going to dog you. I don't care if you're my brother, if you're friend or foe. After the game, we can go to a party and everything's cool."

Moore, 20, gets much of his competitive drive from trying to keep up with his 29-year-old brother, Chris Hooker. They are best friends who talk regularly on the phone and Hooker, a clothing model in Portland, often travels to watch Moore play.

"We hate to lose," said Hooker, who is in town for the game today. "We're good sports about it, but we hate to lose. [The family] is really vocal. We've got a lot of spirit. We get into the games. We want [Northridge] to win so bad."

Some might call Moore cocky, full of himself. He talks like it and walks like it, his swagger an unmistakable testimonial.

Moore sees it differently, but his words don't exactly contradict the image.

"Ever since I've been playing football, I thought I was better than my opponent," Moore said. "I would say it's just confidence in my ability. I feel [receivers] are a little intimidated because they've never seen a corner my size. I know they're a little scared because they feel I might be real physical.

"If I had my way, I'd like to be on [the opponent's] best receiver all the time. I want the challenge. I want to be the one when it's third and long and they're going to their best receiver, I'm the one on him."

Moore sometimes gets his wish and backs it up. He's Northridge's biggest and most versatile defensive back, someone the Matadors can play at weakside linebacker in some packages.

He has 45 tackles, fourth-best on the team, one interception and has broken up 12 passes.

"He's big and physical, so he can play run defense, and he's fast and can cover," said Foster Andersen, Northridge's defensive backs coach. "That's what makes him unique. He gives us great flexibility. He brings the hammer when he comes."

To Moore, that's better than getting hammered. He played running back and linebacker at Jefferson High in Portland, and running back at Eastern Arizona College in 1996. But Moore last year opted for defense after transferring to Hancock College, where he made 103 tackles at strong safety.

Moore, who did not qualify academically to play Division I football out of high school, was headed from Hancock to San Jose State until Ron Ponciano, the Spartans' defensive coordinator last year, was hired to coach Northridge. Moore decided to follow him.

Now Moore, who longs to play in the NFL, is busy following receivers and playing head games with them. And regrouping when he falls short.

"Everybody is going to get beat," Moore said. "When that happens to me, I think, 'What did I just do wrong?' Next time, I try to correct it. Basically, you just get it out of your head and go on."

With a little less talking, no doubt.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Portland State vs. Northridge

What: Big Sky Conference game

When: Today, 3:05 p.m.

Where: North Campus Stadium

Fast Fact: Final home game for Matadors

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