Wesley Hills helped the Wildwood High School football team make history this fall.
Meanwhile, Casey Hanna and Jacquie Fenton helped continue the illustrious history of the Ocean City field hockey program.
Hills is The Press Male Athlete of the Fall. Fenton and Hanna are The Press Co-Female Athletes of the Fall.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Hills excelled at running back, quarterback and linebacker for Wildwood. He led the Warriors to a 6-4 record and the first playoff berth in school history. Hill rushed 205 times for 2,077 yards and scored 35 touchdowns.
“It’s great to make history,” Hills said. “The players all worked hard.”
Several colleges, including Towson, Temple and Rutgers, have been in contact with Hills, but he has yet to make a decision.
Wildwood’s success was one of the most compelling stories of the fall high school sports season.
Wildwood football has struggled for years. Some years Wildwood simply didn’t have enough players to have a varsity team, so it played a junior-varsity schedule.
“We were so tired of losing,” Hills said. “We didn’t want any more excuses.”
Wildwood celebrated the football team’s success with big crowds at home and away games.
“We didn’t have that many believers the last couple of years,” Hills said. “It was thrilling to see the alumni come out and have everybody support us 100 percent.”
Unlike Wildwood football, few local teams in any sport can match the success of the Ocean City field hockey program.
Ocean City won its eighth state championship with a 2-0 win over Warren Hills on Nov. 18 at the College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.
Fenton, a senior forward, scored 14 goals and had 13 assists. Hanna, a senior midfielder, had seven goals and 13 assists and also sparked the Red Raiders’ defense. Hanna has committed to attend Monmouth University. Fenton has yet to decide on a college but West Chester University, The College of New Jersey and American University are among the colleges recruiting her.
Ocean City’s state title was its first since 2009. Hanna and Fenton were freshmen on that team but did not play in the state title game.
“The feeling as undescribable,” Fenton said. “I knew then I wanted to be the next team.”
Fenton didn’t play field hockey until the eighth grade. Hanna grew up with the sport, attending a summer camp run by former Ocean City coach Trish LeFever.
“That’s when I realized Ocean City field hockey was something special,” Hanna said.
But this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Red Raiders. Hanna and Fenton, both from the Seaville section of Upper Township, were among the team’s few veterans.
“We wanted to prove everybody wrong,” Fenton said.
Now Fenton and Hanna can take their place with other Ocean City standouts who led their teams to state titles.
“It’s such a great honor to be on that level of all the other (Ocean City) teams,” Hanna said. “It’s an amazing feeling and I know the captains next year are going to carry the legacy along.”
Hills said he hopes Wildwood’s success this season helps that school begin to build a winning football tradition.
“I wish them nothing but the best,” Hills said. “I have no doubt in my mind they’ll be good next year.”
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