BRICK – Mr. Brick Township will be honored Saturday, August 5 at noon at Windward Beach Park.
The 90th birthday of Warren Wolf, who retired as New Jersey’s career wins leader in football after a legendary coaching career at Brick Township High School, will be celebrated with a gathering. Wolf will turn 90 on August 1.
“It is always nice personally to be honored,” Wolf said. “I worked with so many wonderful people. It’s the people who make the people. That’s how I look at it. Nobody can do anything alone unless they are Johnny Weissmuller (who starred for the United States as an Olympic swimmer).”
Wolf guided the Green Dragons to a 361-122-11 record in 51 seasons. He was the first football coach in the history of the school, which opened in 1958. Wolf, who also served as the town’s mayor and deputy superintendent of schools, led Brick to numerous New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association sectional and Shore Conference divisional championships.
An educational facility in town, the Warren H. Wolf Elementary School, and an athletics venue, the Warren H. Wolf Sports Complex at the high school, were named in his honor.
A feature of the event will be a silent auction to be run by his son, Warren Charles Wolf, who played and coached under his dad. The proceeds will go to the Warren Wolf Scholarship Foundation.
“We want to auction off my dad’s memorabilia – footballs and trophies and whatever else we come across,” he said. “It will be fun. We hope to see friends and former players who we have not seen in a long time.”
Admission to the bring your own bottle event is $20. Proceeds will benefit the Green Dragons.
Wolf, who retired as coach December 1, 2008, said his health is strong.
“My health is good,” he said. “My wife (Peggy) takes care of me.”
Brick won 13 sectional crowns – seven of which were awarded before the playoffs began – and either captured outright or shared 24 divisional titles. The Green Dragons were unbeaten in eight seasons and suffered just three losing campaigns.
“We had a lot of success and it takes good players and good coaches to have success,” the elder Wolf said. “We had a lot of boys who liked to play football. We were one high school at the time I came down here.”
There was a time when Brick was known as the University of Brick because of its prowess on the gridiron and its large number of players. It was said it was impossible to get a haircut in town as all of the barbershops were closed because the workers attended the Green Dragons’ games.
“During one season, we had 102 players on our varsity team,” the elder Wolf said. “We are proud of that. More and more boys came out and played. We were fortunate as we had wonderful players. You can’t make success unless you have good players. We were always blessed with good players. Brick now has two high schools and we still have good players. Brick exudes success.”
Wolf finished his career in 2010 as the head coach of the Lakewood Piners. Lakewood snapped a Shore Conference-record 33-game losing streak and won four of its final five games.
“I missed coaching and the people of Lakewood were very nice to me,” he said. “I missed the locker rooms and the boys. I missed checking up on how they were doing in school. We had some good players, but Lakewood did not have the long range plan I had in mind.”
The Green Dragons were known for their ball control Delaware Wing T formation and stingy defenses.
“We were fundamentalists,” the elder Wolf said. “I had to learn the basic fundamentals before I could confuse our players. We had close to 20 assistant coaches, including volunteers. You had to learn how to play different defenses and how to attack different defenses, the 7-1 or the 5-3, on the fly. If the other team managed to confuse you, you were in for a long day or a long night.”
Wolf is a disciple of the late, legendary Joe Coviello, having coached under his idol from 1948-57 at Memorial of West New York
“We lost maybe two or three games during that time,” Wolf said.
Wolf broke Coviello’s career wins record of 252 in 1992. Coviello attended Wolf’s record-breaking win on a Friday night at Southern Regional and praised Wolf to the heavens in a postgame speech to the Green Dragons in their locker room.
One of Wolf’s wins was over a North Bergen team coached by Coviello in 1970 at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City. Another big victory was in 1966 when Brick won by two touchdowns on the road over traditional state power Phillipsburg. Brick sent 22 school buses to the game to support its beloved Green Dragons.
When Wolf arrived at Brick, it had a rural character. It grew in population as parents wanted their sons to play under the Silver Fox and is now one of New Jersey’s most heavily populated communities.
Wolf worked lots of Coviello’s strategy and training techniques into his methods.
“He was a master coach and he knew what he wanted to do,” the he said. “He never followed the same pattern.”
Wolf attended numerous clinics during off seasons to avoid being stereotyped by opponents. He soaked up knowledge at such places as Penn State, Texas A&M, Arkansas, West Point, Houston, Air Force, Nebraska and Pacific Lutheran.
“You find out how nice the people are,” he said. “They immensely helped me. I went each spring to learn how they do things. I would always ask myself, ‘Can I do it at the high school level?’ I tried not to teach over my head. The more you go to different schools, the better you get. You have to learn what you can do with your players and you learn it in a hurry.”
“He was always learning,” young Wolf said. “He never took anything for granted. He always knew there was something else that would make a difference. Learning kept him sharp. He always wanted to learn something new. If he went somewhere and learned one thing, it would be worthwhile. We instituted a magnetic board on our sidelines, an idea we got from Pacific Lutheran, an NCAA Division III school.”
A classmate of the elder Wolf at Memorial was the woman who was to become his wife of 67 years.
“She was very understanding,” he said. “She knew when we won. She knew when we lost. She knew when the boys would come to our house to look at tapes of our games. She was my right hand. She missed two games in my first season at Brick and one in my second year at Brick. She was the most important person. She learned the game. She was always my girl. My claim to fame is that I married a cheerleader.”
“If we lost, I would say, ‘Sorry about that,’ ” said Mrs. Wolf, who was a Memorial cheerleader.” If we won, I would say, ‘Congratulations.’ ”
The Green Dragons won the first playoff game in New Jersey high school football history, beating 21-20 in the South Jersey Group IV final at Convention Hall in Atlantic City.
“It was our most meaningful title,” said the elder Wolf, whose son, Warren Charles, started at offensive tackle in the game. “It set the tone. Our boys realized that by working together they can come up with a championship. You don’t win it on the drawing board. You win it on the field. As coaches, we made the practices harder than the games.
“I learned that from Joe (Coviello). He felt you had to train to be good enough to play and our practices were harder than our games by design. We had a large number of boys on our teams. Some never got to play much in the games, but they enjoyed our practices.”
Wolf served as the town’s mayor from 1971-75. He was a member of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders from 1975-81 He was a member of the New Jersey General Assembly from 1981-83 and a Brick Township Council member from 1982-93. He was elected to the New Jersey Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame in 2008.
“Football is a great sport,” Wolf said, “But it is either hit or get hit. The choice is yours. It doesn’t matter how big you are. If you can run like a scat back …You can’t teach running, but you can teach blocking.”