By BRIAN CUNNIFF
Things will sure look different around these parts when the high school basketball season tips off in December, now that two of the most successful high school boys basketball coaches in Cape May County history won’t be on the sidelines.
Tom Feraco, a winner of more than 700 games and three times a state champion as head coach at Middle Township, announced earlier this week that will not return this winter.
Then late this week, word circulated through the local basketball community that Wildwood Catholic’s Dave DeWeese, who led the Crusaders to four Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament titles and a South Jersey championship in 2020, will also not return as coach this season.
DeWeese confirmed his departure as coach early Friday evening after meeting with his players.
“For the last five or 10 years I would always get questions about how long I was going to coach and my response always was that I think I’ll know when it’s time and that time is now,” DeWeese said. “I feel very passionate about what I do and I always felt like I would know when it’s time. This just came to me throughout the course of the summer, even though I was actively involved in our summer league stuff and our practices. I know how passionate I am about coaching and how much I put into it and I’m just not there anymore.”
Feraco led Middle’s program over two different stints. He first coached for 35 seasons prior to stepping down after the 2015-16 season. He guided Middle to nine South Jersey titles, three state titles (1993, 1994 and 2002) and 21 20-win seasons. Feraco then returned as coach for the past two seasons, although Middle played just six games last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, he finishes with a career record of 733-270 over a total of 37 seasons.
DeWeese coached at Wildwood Catholic for a total of 18 seasons, going 324-176 in his career. He led the Crusaders to Cape-Atlantic League playoff tournament titles in 2014 and from 2018 through 2020 and two appearances in the South Jersey Non-Public B title game in 2019 and 2020. Wildwood Catholic won the 2020 South Jersey championship but never got to play for a state title after the season was halted at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The championships, the trophies — those things are very nice,” DeWeese said. “But much more important than that is that I feel fortunate to have played a part in the lives of all the young men I’ve gotten to coach and that I’ve gotten a chance to play a part in developing them into successful young men. That’s why I always did what I did in coaching. I didn’t think about a win-loss record or a championship. I felt like I could have an impact on the lives of these young men and help guide them to hopefully be successful in life. That’s what drove me to coach more than anything.
“To be able to point to the success stories and to have kids lives I’ve touched and impacted, that’s the most rewarding aspect of being a coach to me.”
Wildwood Catholic played just five games due to the pandemic last season, finishing 3-2. Prior to last season, the Crusaders had posted three straight seasons with at least 23 wins.