BILLINGS - The nationally-ranked football guys at Rocky Mountain College are off to their best start in over 20 years. They're 5-1 heading into Saturday's home game against Carroll College — with a father figure in the defensive huddle.
"It' weird for me now because I'm the old guy and the one that's married," Wes Moeai (pronounced Moe-AH-ee) told MTN Sports with a laugh before a recent practice.
At 26, the defensive lineman is far and away Rocky's oldest player.
"They call me Uncle Wes; they call me grandpa," Moeai confessed. "They're always messing with me."
'Uncle Wes' is making the most of his last college football season. The Utah native is on his fourth collegiate team after taking the last couple years off and getting married.
Should aches and pains of aging become too, Moeai seems mature enough to 'retire' mid-season and jump straight to the coaching staff.
"I could be coach Washington's assistant right now," he joked. "Defensive line Coach (Javon) Washington and (assistant defensive line/assistant strength coach Coach (Cy) Steele."
Moeai has been a perfect fit for head coach Chris Stutzriem.
"He's an older guy, he's a big body up front defensive-wise, he's a great teammate," Stutzriem said.
Rostered at 315 pounds, Moeai is also Rocky's only player carrying over 300. But it's clearly a defined 315 and Stutzriem is already seeing NFL appeal for his D-lineman.
"Yeah, I've gotten some emails about him. He's quick off the ball, he's strong, he's built the correct way."
Last month, the often calm Moeai actually caught the Bears off guard during a make-or-break nail-biter against MSU-Northern. Rocky's defense had just given up the go-ahead touchdown with under 4:00 left to a Lights' team that hasn't won a conference game in five years, compelling Moeai to snap in the huddle.
"To answer your question, I did," he admitted with smile.
"He's always been the quiet guy, but we saw a little bit of, hey this is how we're going to do it and we need to step up," Stutzriem said. "It kind of caught us all (off guard) because he's very soft spoken."
That bark lit the fire that led to a nail-biting 31-28 Rocky win and the Bears haven't lost since.
"I was just like, C'mon man, no more. No more, you know?"
Sounds like something a father might say to his mischievous kids. And while Moeai and his wife don't have children yet, some days it feels like he heads home after practice and blurts out, 'These kids!'
"Yeah, something like that, it kind of sums up how I go home every day," he said with a hearty laugh. "But, these guys give me so much respect at the same time as joking with me. They made it easy for an older guy like me to come in here and just be me."