Coach Wolf, you’re a legend…but please step aside now

So I am several days late with this, but I only found out about this from my dad a few days ago and hadn’t had a chance to put a post up…

Legendary Brick Township High School football coach Warren Wolf, who retired last December after compiling a 361-122-11 record in 51 seasons at the school, told the Brick Board of Education during its April 29 meeting that he wanted to rescind his retirement because of the board’s decision to hire former Allentown High School coach Patrick Dowling as Wolf’s replacement.

The 81-year-old Wolf, before an audience of 70-100 supporters wearing green “SAVE the TRADITION and PRIDE” t-shirts, told the board:

“I’m terribly concerned and disappointed that you would recommend someone other than a Brick Township boy…You’re doing this either because you hate Brick Township football, or you hate Warren Wolf.”

Yes, that’s right…Wolf apparently referred to himself in the third person.

Wolf, who said he talked to Dowling and told him he would not support his hiring (way to stay classy, Coach Wolf), then announced that he would rescind his retirement and return to coaching rather than see the program be turned over to an outsider.

Nice job of stepping aside gracefully, Warren.

Here is more from the Asbury Park Press:

Scott Lloyd, 39, called the football program an institution here.

John Barrett, 39, told the board it destroyed the tradition Wolf had built during his 51 years with their prospective decision.

“This is not what Mr. Wolf built,” Barrett said. “Now, no matter who gets this job, it’s been tarnished — this should have been the best job in the state and it can’t be that.”

Wolf, 81, has a record of 361-122-11 in 51 seasons. Brick won six on the field NJSIAA sectional championships and 25 Shore Conference divisional titles under him.

Brick actually won a share of the Shore Conference Constitution division title in Wolf’s last season, but they finished just 6-4 and tied with Colts Neck and Toms River East. And in Wolf’s final game, Brick beat cross-town rival — and eventual NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV champion — Brick Memorial.

But Brick was mediocre, at best…and they have been that way for many years now. I went to Brick’s home playoff game against Triton on November 15 and Brick was completely outcoached in a 28-7 loss. Also, I’m pretty sure it was the same 75-100 people at the Board of Education meeting who were the only ones in the Brick stands that game.

News flash to longtime Brick fans — and I am one of them: The Wolf Era is Over! Is mediocrity the TRADITION and PRIDE you want to SAVE? (Apparently, those three words must always be spelled with capital letters in Brick…at least, according to the t-shirts.)

When he announced his retirement, I remember talking to my dad and saying, “You know, I hope the powers that be don’t feel pressured to hire ‘a Brick guy’ to replace Wolf. I think after 51 seasons, it might be time for some new blood.”

And, in a very “non-Brick” move, the Board of Education did just that. The finalists for the coaching job were determined by a selection committee consisting of Brick Township principal Dennis Filippone, Brick Township athletic director Rick Handchen, Brick Memorial principal Richard Caldes and Brick Memorial athletic director Bill Bruno.

Filippone and Caldes were FORMER BRICK PLAYERS UNDER WOLF. If they felt it was so important for “a Brick boy” to get the job, then why did the panel recommend Dowling? Apparently, it wasn’t that much of an issue for them.

These four people interviewed nine candidates on Feb. 12-17 and recommended three finalists on April 1.

Now, according to the Asbury Park Press Pigskin Pundits blog, here is how the final decision was made:

Schools Superintendent Walter Hrycenko said that Dowling is the best candidate out of those who applied for the position. Hrycenko cited Dowling’s experience, his success as a coach and his credentials as a special education teacher as the main reasons for his selection.

“Of those who applied, Pat Dowling had the most coaching experience,” said Hrycenko. “He has an impressive resume and he gave the best interview.”

Hrycenko said the hiring process was the same employed when the district hired Walt Currie to become the Brick Memorial coach in 2007.

Currie won a Central Jersey Group IV championship in his second year at Brick Memorial, so maybe Wolf and Brick football fans should give the new coach a chance.

But back to Dowling…from what I have read, his coaching experience doesn’t appear all that impressive. But replacing the only coach BTHS has ever known is a difficult situation and he is definitely used to that. In his only season as Allentown (N.J.) head coach last year, Dowling went just 2-8, but the Redbirds had lost 29 straight games going into that season. In the third game of the 2008 season against Ewing, Dowling guided Allentown to victory, snapping a 31-game losing streak.

Prior to his year at Allentown, Dowling was head coach at Monroe High School for four years, winning 23 games and taking the team to the state playoffs in his final three seasons there. The school won its first-ever playoff game during Dowling’s tenure.

In 1994, Dowling took the reins of a Wood-Ridge High School program mired in a 31-game losing streak and coached the team to victory in his first game as head coach.

Now, another point the Wolf backers are making is that Dowling has had eight coaching jobs in 20 years. Uh, folks, the days of a coach staying put for 51 seasons are over. Actually, I’m pretty sure those days never began. It’s very rare for something like that to happen. But, seriously, if a coach stays at a school for 10 years, that’s pretty amazing in this day and age.

Dowling is 48 years old and has not been a head coach at any of New Jersey’s elite football schools. It is completely understandable that he would be using the Monroe and Allentown high schools of the world in order to eventually take over an elite high school program. Now, Brick used to be an elite program. Perhaps, he can build it up to that point again.

All I know is that Brick’s new football coach shouldn’t be criticized for not being “a Brick boy.” This should be an exciting time for the program…new coach, new blood, new direction. Sure, it may not work out. But there is a chance that it will.

Wolf is the winningest coach in New Jersey high school football history and his 51 seasons at Brick Township High School should be cherished and remembered fondly.

But it’s not like Wolf’s last years were anything spectacular. Back in Brick’s glory days, home playoff games would draw overflow crowds in the thousands. Like I mentioned earlier, only a couple hundred were at the one I attended in November. It’s not like there is a recent wave of success that needs to continue. Let’s face it, the Brick football program needs an overhaul.

It’s time for a change and I am more than willing to support Coach Dowling’s appointment as the next head coach of Brick Township High School’s football team.

And, really, the arrogance and complete lack of class shown by Warren Wolf in this situation makes me want to root for Coach Dowling even more. And it’s a shame I just had to type that last sentence.

Source: Tandem With the Random

Congrats, Cinnaminson (N.J.) boys basketball…and Mike Fries

Junior T.J. DiLeo scored a game-high 26 points to lead the Cinnaminson High School boys basketball team to a 69-63 home win over A.P. Schalick in a South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinal playoff game.

Head coach Mike Fries* had his team focus on taking care of the basketball in preparation for the contest. “We practiced the last three days on our passing, not turning the ball over and making crisp, hard passes, and it worked,” said Fries.

Worked indeed. The Pirates turned the ball over just three times in the second half.

Cinnaminson, the No. 4 seed, will travel to top-seeded Collingswood on Friday for a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal matchup. Collingswood cruised past No. 9 seed Pleasantville, 84-62, in another South Jersey Group 2 quarterfinal contest played Wednesday night.

Let’s go Cinnaminson!

(BK note: Mike Fries is among my circle of friends from my days at Rider.)