It's no wonder Wesley Hills is a football standout.
The Wildwood High School junior says "touchdown" was the first word he ever said.
"My dad (also named Wesley Hills) was a real big Eagles fan," Hills said. "We would watch the games. Whenever they scored I would say 'touchdown.' Everybody was surprised when I said it."
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Hills excels at running back and linebacker for the Warriors (1-6). He has rushed 134 times for 826 yards and five touchdowns. Hills also leads the team with 48 tackles.
Hills says he owes a lot of credit for his development as a player and as a person to Thomas Seibert, a longtime coach with the Wildwood Warriors youth football team. Seibert died in August at age 37.
The Wildwood football team has struggled for years. With an enrollment of fewer than 300, the school is one of the state's smallest. The Warriors won their first game since 2008 with a 28-13 win over Clayton on Sept. 17.
But when asked about the program's struggles, Hills was quick to note that Wildwood has produced some outstanding players throughout the years. Wildwood alumni include Randy Beverly, who played in Super Bowl III with the New York Jets, and Billy Osborne, a standout at the University of Pittsburgh in the late 1980s.
Hills also plays basketball in the winter and runs track and field in the spring.
Wildwood's football season is winding down with three games left, including tonight's contest at Schalick (3-3). In a telephone interview Monday night, Hills spoke about a number of topics.
On Seibert's role in his life: I was a goofball to start out. He straightened me out. I thought of him as a second father.
On persevering through Wildwood's struggles: I don't step on the field thinking we're going to lose. I feel we can win every game we play. That keeps me driving. I hate losing as much as the next guy, and we lose (most) games. But I want to keep pushing myself.
On living in Wildwood: You know how busy it is in the summer and all that. But around the winter during football season it's kind of quiet. I prefer the winter. I'm a big winter guy. I like it cold outside. That's perfect football weather.
On whether he prefers playing offense or defense: That's tough. I like hitting people as much as I do love running the ball.
On his football achievements sometimes getting overlooked because he plays for Wildwood: Sometimes I feel like that. I have to go out there and work even harder to get my name out there. I use it as motivation.
On being a three-sport athlete: It gets kind of hard, but I love being active.
On those who say Wildwood shouldn't have a football team: People who say that don't know all the great talent we have at our school and the athletes that have come out of our school. We scored more points this year than in the last two years. I would say Wildwood football is (improving).
On his athletic future: My biggest dream is to play college football.
As told to Michael McGarry