By BRIAN CUNNIFF
WILDWOOD — For what is believed to be the first time in program history, the Wildwood High School football team will play its first regular-season game prior to Labor Day.
The Warriors, who broke a 47-game losing streak last season with their first win since 2014, open the 2021 season Thursday at Cumberland.
Warrior coach Ken Loomis (fifth season) isn’t thrilled with the early opener. But his team will be as ready as possible thanks to a rather strong commitment by the players during the preseason.
“Having a game this early is throwing us off a bit,” Loomis said. “I honestly don’t like it at all. But the preseason for us has gone much better this year than in years past. The core kids have shown up and worked hard consistently.”
Wildwood will feature a roster of about 25 players for the opener against a much larger Cumberland team.
The Warriors are led by senior brothers Ernie Troiano (QB/DB) and Dom Troiano (WR/LB). They’re both four-year starters. Ernie tossed for 584 yards and eight touchdowns and also ran for two more scores, while Dom caught 11 balls for 140 yards during last fall’s five-game season.
Other seniors include Joe Awad (RB/LB) and Gavin Richards (OL/DL).
“We have a good group of kids and it starts with the Troiano boys and the seniors with some good leadership, and it trickles all the way down to the freshmen,” Loomis said. “The kids are ready to play ball.”
Sophomore Junior Hans (WR/DB) is the top underclassman. He caught nine passes for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown as a freshman and defensively was often lined up against the opposing team’s top playmaker on the outside.
Other key players include junior Johnny Nolan (WR/DB) and sophomores Ryan Troiano (WR/DB), a cousin of the senior Troianos, and Joey Mormile (WR/LB).
Cumberland won just once last fall. But the Colts are a Group IV school that regularly competes against good competition.
“They have a real athletic quarterback and we’re going to have to keep him contained in the pocket,” Loomis said. “We have to play good football and hope for the best.”
For Wildwood, the 2021 season isn’t about getting a win. The Warriors want more.
“We got the first one off our back last year so the goal now is to be .500,” Loomis said. “I think we have the kids to do that.”
After Cumberland, Wildwood plays at Pitman on Sept. 10 before its home opener against Clayton on Sept. 17.
Loomis is assisted by Brian Adair, Chris Chobert, Casey Dillon and Tom Higgins.
2021 WILDWOOD FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Thu 9/2 at Cumberland 6 pm
Fri 9/10 at Pitman 6 pm
Fri 9/17 CLAYTON 6 pm
Fri 9/24 GLOUCESTER 6 pm
Fri 10/1 at Bordentown 6 pm
Sat 10/9 HADDON TOWNSHIP 12 noon
Sat 10/16 at Maple Shade 12 noon
Sat 10/23 RIVERSIDE 12 noon