By BRIAN CUNNIFF
High school sports in this area are set to officially return this week, when Lower Cape May. Middle Township and Wildwood each play their first regular-season football games on Thursday.
The rest of the fall high school sports are due to get started with their regular seasons next week.
Despite the lack of regular-season action, there has been a lot of news in local high school sports. Let’s review some of it.
New boys soccer coach at Middle: Scott Kurkowski is the new head boys soccer coach at Middle Township, his alma mater. He replaces Matt Gilbert, who resigned earlier this month after four seasons and a 39-28-3 career record. Kurkowski is a 2014 graduate of Middle. He led the Panthers’ South Jersey Group II championship team in scoring with 16 goals as a senior. Kurkowski had been an assistant under Gilbert for a few seasons and also coaches in the Cape Express club soccer program. Gilbert plans to remain as Middle Township’s boys tennis coach.
Douglass returns as girls basketball coach at Lower Cape May: Scott Douglass is returning as head girls basketball at Lower Cape May. Douglass is replacing Mike Pittman, who led the program for three seasons after Douglass had resigned following a 10-year run as coach ending with the 2017-18 season. Douglass sports a career record of 148-120 over his previous decade as coach. He also led the Lady Tigers to the South Jersey Group II in 2014, the first and still only girls team sectional championship in school history. Douglass is also a longtime girls tennis assistant coach under his older brother, Greg.
LCM football to honor military, first responders: The Lower Cape May football program has plans to hold Military Appreciation Night ahead of its home game against Lindenwold on Friday, Sept. 17. The team will honor any active or retired military service men and women, as well as first responders. Festivities are set to begin at 5:30 p.m. ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff. It is anticipated that a military aircraft will land on the grounds of the high school. Donations will be collected for the New Jersey Run For The Fallen and can be made through Venmo to @NJRFTF. Money will also be raised through jersey sales and donations on the day of the event. Lower Cape May players are expected to wear special military-style jerseys for the game. Any active or retired service member or first responder is invited to take part in the event. More info is available on Facebook (look up “Military Appreciation Football Game”). The contest will air live on 98.7 The Coast, with a live video stream available at CoastSportsToday.com.
Cape Tech baseball coach resigns: Kyle Morinelli has stepped down after three seasons as the head baseball coach at the Cape May County Technical High School. Tech went 8-13 last spring but managed to pull off a major upset of Buena in an opening-round South Jersey Group I playoff game for the program’s first-ever state playoff victory. Tech fielded a young team last spring, with just two seniors. Cape May Tech has yet to name a replacement for Morinelli.
New athletic director at Wildwood: Steve Lerch is the new athletic director at Wildwood High School, his alma mater. Lerch began in the post in July. He replaces Sean Olson, who served as athletic director for a little less than two years before taking an administrative position at Oakcrest. Lerch is a graduate of Wildwood High School and was previously a teacher at the district’s Glenwood Avenue School and the seventh- and eighth-grade boys basketball coach for Wildwood Junior High School.
Wildwood Catholic grad in charge at Roman: Wildwood Catholic High School graduate Brian Haas is the new athletic director at the Philadelphia Catholic League’s Roman Catholic High School, which boasts one of the most prestigious athletic programs in the city. Haas, who began his career in athletic administration as the athletic director at his alma mater, had most recently been the athletic director at Archbishop Wood High School of the PCL. Haas was a starter on Wildwood Catholic’s back-to-back South Jersey championship boys basketball teams in 2006-07 and later played college basketball at Division III Gwynedd-Mercy.
Iconic basketball official passes away: The South Jersey sports community lost one of its longtime true advocates over the summer with the passing of John Pierantozzi after a long illness. A longtime respected high school basketball official, Pierantozzi was a key member of the executive committee of Board 196, which services high school basketball in Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland counties, often as an instructor of and mentor for younger officials. Pierantozzi, 80, was a teacher at Vineland High School, where he coached football, track and field and golf. He also coached basketball at Sacred Heart High School and golf at St. Augustine Prep.
Boardwalk Basketball Classic set to return: The Boardwalk Basketball Classic holiday tournament is set to return in late December after being canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s tournament is set for Dec. 27-31 at the Wildwoods Convention Center. The tournament, run by an all-volunteer committee, raises college scholarship money for graduating seniors at Wildwood and Wildwood Catholic high schools. A tentative schedule is available online at bbclassic.com.
New girls tennis coach at Middle: Cassidy Calimer is the new head girls tennis coach at Middle Township High School. Calimer is a graduate of Absegami High School, where as a player she broke the school record for total girls tennis wins with 81. She went on to play four seasons of college tennis at Division II Bloomsburg, where she was named conference freshman of the year in 2017 and Husky of the Decade in 2020.