Jamie Peterson almost had no choice but to become the Wildwood High School football coach again.
Peterson coached the Warriors in 2000 and 2001. But he resigned primarily because he moved to Memphis, Tenn., for business reasons.
Peterson, a 1979 Wildwood graduate, moved back to town in the summer of 2009. The Warriors needed a coach for this season because last year's coach Rob Dieffenbach resigned after getting a teaching job at another school.
Peterson met with some former players this summer and they asked him to coach. His daughter, Sarah, is a Wildwood senior and the captain of the cheerleaders. She too asked him to coach. Peterson bowed to the good-natured pressure.
"Wildwood High is near and dear to my heart," Peterson said. "It's challenging but it's worth it."
Wildwood has long struggled for wins and to get out players out for the team.
Peterson said the Warriors will dress between 25 and 30 players for its opener Friday against Salem.
"Hopefully, we can be respectable and competitive," he said. "We're a unified team. The players are really together with everything. If we do everything right and we don't have any injuries, maybe we can surprise some people."
These Warriors do have some size and speed.
Senior Curtis Gift, a baseball standout, will play fullback and linebacker. Gift hasn't played football since he was a freshman.
"He looks more like a football player," Peterson said of Gift. "He hasn't missed a beat."
Sophomore tailback Wesley Hill has a lot of potential. Dwayne Moody, who also plays tailback, had some impressive performances last season and is the team's fastest player. Shawn Keoughan, a 6-foot-2, 260-pound lineman, leads the offensive and defensive lines.
Peterson said Wildwood will keep the game plan simple.
"We're all about teaching the players a few things and doing them well," he said. "We're not going to be fancy or tricky. We're about being fundamentally sound."
PLAYOFF APPEARANCES: 0
LAST APPEARANCE: Never
PLAYOFF RECORD: 0-0
LEAGUE/GROUP: West Jersey Football League Classic Division/South Jersey Group I
COACH: Jamie Peterson (first season since 2001)
2009 RECORD: 0-8
2010 PREDICTION: Rebuilding. Warriors could surprise if they stay injury free and play disciplined.
GAME TO WATCH: Sept. 17 vs. Clayton.
Wildwood's last win came when it beat Clayton 24-18 on Oct. 10, 2008.
Zach Barrett, Jr., QB; Curtis Gift, Sr., FB/LB, 6-0, 205; Scott Smith, Sr., FB/LB, 6-1, 220; Wesley Hill, So., RB, 6-2, 210; Ed Lopizzo, Jr., OL, 6-0, 220; Shawn Keoughan, Sr., OL/DL. 6-2, 260; Francis Christian, WR/DB; Lorenzo Plaza, Sr., WR/DB, 5-8, 150; Dwayne Moody, Sr., RB/CB, 5-9, 160.