Like most folks in Western Pennsylvania – and many around the country, for that matter – an 8-year-old boy from New Kensington watched intently as the Steelers took on the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. In seeing the black and gold pull off a dramatic last-minute win, this boy began to dream, not only of playing in the Super Bowl, but also scoring a touchdown in the big game.
“Ever since I saw that Big Ben pass to Santonio Holmes in the back of the end zone, I wanted to do that,” said Skyy Moore ’19.
And wouldn’t you know it, 14 years later, Moore found himself on that same grand stage when he represented the Kansas City Chiefs, who squared off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LVII. And with an estimated 115 million people watching in the United States alone, Moore used his only catch to score his first career touchdown, one that came in the fourth quarter and vaulted the Chiefs to a 38-35 win.
“It was a dream come true,” Moore said.
The performance was just one of many “Skyy-lights” Moore has had since graduating from Shady Side Academy. He has transformed from a high school quarterback who was lightly recruited by colleges into a promising NFL wide receiver entering his second season with the world champions.
Moore fondly remembers his days at Shady Side Academy, and his teachers remember him well, too. Not only for his football talents, though.
“I don’t think of him as a super football player. I think of him as Skyy, the sweet student,” said Pam Boehm, who taught Moore’s ninth grade history class. Moore met Jordyn Harris ’19 in that class. The two began dating their senior year and remain together to this day.
Moore arrived at Shady Side Academy his freshman year after previously attending Valley Junior High in New Kensington, Pa. So, what compelled Moore to go to SSA in the first place? Easy – that’s where his mom wanted him to go.
“Honestly, I really didn’t have a choice. My mom made me,” Moore said with a laugh. “At first I didn’t want to go, but as I got there, and I was going through the school year meeting new people, I definitely realized this was way better than what I was coming from.”
They say “mother knows best,” and in this case, Moore’s mother, Timika Hastie, made a hasty decision that she said she doesn’t regret one bit.
“In middle school, I started to see a change in his friends’ behavior,” she said. “He was always extremely smart, and I didn’t want him to take the same ride downhill that they were going.” Instead, Moore began to “Skyyrocket” at his new school. His development was strikingly noticeable to some of his teachers who saw him grow immensely in his four years.
“As a ninth grader, he was a good student, but he was learning how to become an organized learner,” said Karen Serdy, who taught Moore in Spanish I and III. “When I had Skyy in 11th grade, he had developed that organization. He had time management skills that were incredible, and he had developed into a leader.”
Moore mentioned Serdy, Boehm, Adam Janosko and Matt Weiss as being his favorite teachers. Janosko taught Moore’s English elective, Literature and Sport, while Weiss was his U.S. History teacher.
“Those were my funnest classes. They made sure learning was fun,” Moore recalled. One of his more memorable assignments was the U.S. History paper he wrote in Weiss’ class as a junior. “He did it on rap and Reagan,” Weiss said. “His thesis was that rap during the ’80s was a response to Reagan’s politics being harmful to the Black community, and that a lot of rappers recognized that and responded to it with their music.” Janosko pointed to an essay Moore wrote on his relationship with football that he called “beautiful.”
Moore’s love for football took off at SSA, as well. The impact was instant, as Moore became the team’s starting quarterback his freshman season, a rarity in high school football. Dave Havern was the head coach for Moore’s first two seasons before Chuck DiNardo ’00 took over the job after Havern retired.
“With Skyy, you realize a couple of things immediately,” DiNardo said.
“The first thing you saw was, he’s a really good kid, a really genuine kid. The other thing was, this is a kid who really loves football.”
Shady Side Academy didn’t win a game when Moore was a sophomore, one of the reasons being that he broke his ankle a few games into the season. Moore then had an explosive junior season when he both threw and rushed for more than 1,000 yards while helping Shady Side finish with a 6-3 record.
Moore’s senior season was a remarkable one, leading Shady Side to a conference title and its first undefeated regular season in 10 years. Moore accounted for 46 total touchdowns and became the first player in WPIAL history to throw and rush for 1,000 yards in the regular season twice.
But Moore faced some adversity that season when he rebroke his ankle in the team’s WPIAL first-round playoff win against Serra Catholic. Without him, Shady Side Academy was eliminated from the playoffs the following week. “I know he was so depressed. It was depressing for all of us,” his mother said. “But one thing with him is, he’s always had a tremendous work ethic. He went to therapy and did so much more than the doctor even suggested to get ready.”
Most of Moore’s college offers were from Mid-American Conference and FCS schools. He considered waiting things out a little longer, but ultimately decided to commit to Western Michigan University in November of his senior year. The Broncos had recruited him to play defensive back, but Moore moved to wide receiver when he arrived. He was a quick study, too, as he was selected all-conference is freshman season. In three seasons at Western Michigan, which included the shortened pandemic season in 2020, Moore had 171 receptions for 2,482 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. That included a monster 95-1,292-10 line his junior season.
With his stock at its highest level yet, Moore decided to declare for the NFL draft following his junior season. There were rumors that his hometown Steelers would select him, a development he at one point thought had actually come to fruition.
“It went the Steelers, the Colts and then the Chiefs,” Moore said of the draft order in the second round of the 2022 NFL draft. “The team picking before the Steelers (the Philadelphia Eagles), they were on the clock when I got a phone call. I’m thinking, ‘Oh.’ I didn’t even look at the number. I just answered the phone, I’m thinking it’s the Steelers. But I guess my TV was behind. It was the Chiefs.”
That pick went over especially well with Janosko, whose wife is from Kansas City. “As soon as he was drafted by KC, I sent him a text. I said, ‘If you ever need a home-cooked meal, I have people there.’ I’m rooting for him on two different levels,” Janosko said.
Most players go their entire career without making a Super Bowl, let alone winning one. But Moore got a ring in year one as he began to develop a rapport with two-time NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. “Playing with him is what it seems like,” Moore said. “You have a quarterback that can make every throw. It’s just everything that you could want as a receiver.”
Moore said his rookie season was like a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs. He had 22 catches and didn’t score a touchdown in the regular season, one that saw him cough up the ball several times on muffed punts. Moore, though, remained patient and kept working, knowing his time would come. It most certainly did. His big punt return in the final minute set up the winning touchdown in the Chiefs’ 23-20 win against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship.
Two weeks later at the Super Bowl, Moore had a large contingent of family and friends make the trip to Glendale, Ariz. The group included both his mom and dad (Roger Moore), grandmother, siblings and girlfriend. It was a joyous night for the bunch, who watched Moore haul in a Mahomes pass on 3rd-and-goal before running into the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown to extend the Kansas City lead to 35-27 with 9:22 left in the game. It propelled the Chiefs to their second title in four years.
“Honestly, I’m so glad it’s caught on video because I really don’t remember it,” Moore said. “There were so many emotions flowing around.
Once I crossed the goal line, it was like a blur.”
His family was left with blurry eyes after watching him shine in the biggest game of his life. “I was just so excited. I just cried out. He literally picked up his dad and swirled him around. It was so funny. I just think he was so excited. I was so happy for him,” said Hastie.
Those who taught or coached Moore in high school were obviously happy for him, as well. “It’s so much fun now for me to be a fan,” DiNardo said. “I tell people all the time I’m one of his biggest fans. Someone gifted me one of his rookie cards. For me, it’s a ton of fun to put on a KC jersey and root for him.”
And although it’s been four years since Moore was a student at Shady Side – his teachers described him as “earnest” and vividly remember his big smile – Moore talks about his days there proudly.
“Shady Side helped me deal with all different kinds of people,” he said. “It puts you in different situations, and when you handle those situations in the real world, it’s like you recognize, ‘Oh, I’ve done this before’ or ‘I know a person like this.’ It’s so diverse. So I feel like it prepared me for the real world.”
His experiences at Shady Side Academy, he said, continue to benefit him as he prepares for his second season with the Chiefs. For Moore, the sky’s the limit.