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VIDEO: Warriors feel better prepared ahead of opener

Leaders of the 2020 Wildwood High School football team include (from left): kneeling – Greg Mitchell, Ernie Troiano IV; standing – Joe Awad, Dom Troiano.


Thanks to restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, most high school football teams in the state didn’t get to practice as much as usual in the summertime.

None of them was legally able to practice for two weeks in early September as schools concentrated on successfully executing their reopening plans.

But for Wildwood, it was almost business as usual.

Wildwood’s program has traditionally struggled to get many players out for summer practices, leaving the team not as prepared to start the season as its opponents.

But the restrictions that changed the practice routines for high school football in 2020?

“Everyone kind of got to experience what we go through,” said Warrior coach Ken Loomis, in his fifth season in charge. “I think this is going to make us better prepared because the playing field got leveled a little bit. No one was able to practice as much over the summer and then everyone had the two-week break (from practice). Then it got started up again, everyone got one scrimmage and away we go. Well, that’s normally kind of what we go through every year.”

Numbers are, as usual, an issue with Wildwood as they get set to play their opener Friday at home against Clayton at 6 p.m. The contest will be aired live on 98.7 The Coast radio, with a live video stream available at 

Loomis said he expects to have about 25 players in uniform for the opener.

There is some experience back, however, as most of the team’s skill position players from a year ago have returned. But the Warriors will have to make due with a lot of inexperienced and undersized players along the offensive and defensive lines. Depth will be an issue, with at least eight or nine players starting on both sides of the ball.

“We like what we have, but we just don’t have a lot,” Loomis said. “We lost seven seniors and six of them played on the lines so replacing them is a daunting task. But the kids have bought in. We have a tough, scrappy group and they’ve been working hard.”

Wildwood is led by four players who played pretty much every down when healthy last season. They include seniors Greg Mitchell (RB/LB) and Miguel Claudio (RB/DL) and junior brothers Ernie Troiano IV (QB/DB) and Dom Troiano (WR/LB).

Others with some experience include seniors Julio Rivera (OL/LB), Jose Matos (OL/DL) Mike Ashton (WR/DB) and Joe DiSalvo (WR/DB), junior Joe Awad (OL/LB) and sophomore Johnny Nolan (WR/LB).

Among the newcomers, talented freshman three-sport athlete Junior Hans (WR/DB) is expected to make the most impact.

Wildwood has lost 45 straight games, last tasting victory when the Warriors edged Pleasantville late in the 2014 season. 

“We have most of our skill guys back so there’s not as much of a learning curve there,” Loomis said. “I think we’re a little better prepared this year. Obviously the big goal is get a win and go from there.”

Loomis is assisted by Casey Dillon, Chris Chobert, Brian “B.A.” Adair and Tom Higgins.

Wildwood is scheduled to play the first three of its scheduled six games at home.