The 38-year old Riddle of the Whistle that may have changed New Jersey high school football history may have finally been solved.
That revelation is just one of many anecdotes in a new 451-page hardcover book from New Jersey’s second all-time winningest football coach, Warren Wolf. The whistle in question, which did not emanate from the lips of a game referee, prematurely launched the first NJSIAA football playoff contest in 1974 between Brick Township High School and Camden at Atlantic City Convention Hall.
After the whistle, Camden’s Anthony Brown returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but since the game hadn’t officially started the play was ruled dead. Brick would go on to win a 21-20 thriller, stopping a late Camden two-point conversion attempt to become New Jersey’s first 10-0 team and South Jersey Group IV champion crowned on the field.
So who tooted the tweet that triggered the do-over kickoff? According to “The History of Brick Township High School Green Dragons Football, 51 Years of Pride and Tradition,” the answer is revealed by former Brick player Kerry Matson.
“Kerry remembers that the Camden band was close to the field on the 40-yard line and their drum major had a big baton that he waived to provide the beat of thesong prior to the kickoff,” writes Wolf. “He had a whistle in his mouth to gain attention for hisband to play.
“What happened was that the drum major blew his whistle for the band to start prior to the referee’s whistle.”
Wolf said Brick kicker Brian Reynolds heard that whistle and stepped into the football.
“But the referee was surprised by the kickoff as he did not blow his whistle to start the game,” Wolf says. “The touchdown was ruled illegal as the game cannot start, by rule, until the referee blows his whistle.”
The book is chock full of stories, pictures and year-by-year accounts of every Wolf-led Brick team in his 51-year head coaching career.
The man they called “The Silver Fox” won 364 games and six on-the-field NJSIAA championships.
Wolf said he wanted to write about “a football program consisting of teenage boys who were striving for identity in an unknown town.”
Wolf recalls signing his contract to coach Brick’s first team in 1958 when the rural township didn’t rate a signpost on the then-just-recently-completed Garden State Parkway.
“Of course my knees were shaking and my heart was beating, but my wife gave me great confidence that we can do it,” Wolf said. “Reminded me of Brigham Young on his trip out west to Utah.”
Former Brick player John Teza describes the Dragons’ regular-season pregame processions from their locker room to Keller Memorial Field.
“Walking six abreast, holding hands, seniors in the front, our teams were like a coil ready to snap,” Teza writes.
In 1964, when Toms River hired then-30-year-old coach Ron Signorino to lead the Indians, Signorino recalls how Wolf’s legend had grown.
“Everybody said he could do anything,” said Signorino who later joined Wolf as his defensive coordinator during a dominating Dragons’ run in the early 1980s. “They said he could make the sun shine and he could make it rain,” Signorino said.
It rained three consecutive South Jersey IV titles for Wolf from 1981-83.
“The roots and tradition of football at the Shore start with coach Wolf and Brick football,” writes former Wall coach Chris Barnes. “He set the table for all of us.”
The book will be available en masse for the first time at a Brick Township Football Alumni Reunion Barbeque July 28 at Windward Beach. The occasion will also be a birthday party for Wolf, who will turn 85 on Aug. 1.