A fun first game for new Woodbury coach

Woodbury football coach Al Mailahn.
Woodbury football coach Al Mailahn.
Posted: September 15, 2013

Al Mailahn could have made his debut as Woodbury's new football coach against any Colonial Conference foe.

Fittingly, he'll bring the Thundering Herd into Haddon Heights for Saturday's season opener for both teams.

"The kids have been razzing me pretty good," Mailahn said of the Haddon Heights students.

Mailahn has been teaching health and physical education at Haddon Heights since 1994. He also is a senior-class adviser.

He also was the Garnets' head football coach from 1993 to 2005.

"Lot of connections," Mailahn said.

Mailahn joined Zack Valentine's staff at Woodbury in 2006. He was an assistant for the Thundering Herd for seven years and took over the program after Valentine resigned following the 2012 season.

"It's such a great program, so much history and tradition," Mailahn said of Woodbury football.

Mailahn has been directing the Thundering Herd defense for seven years. His offensive coordinator, Butch Gale - who recently retired as a teacher at Haddon Heights - has been handling that side of the football for even longer.

Mailahn said the roles haven't changed since he became head coach.

"If it's not broke, don't fix it," Mailahn said. "A lot of what we do as far as X's and O's are the same. We're just trying to keep it going. But Zack is a big missing piece."

Woodbury has some top seniors such as two-way backs Jeray Denby, Daevon Ayers, and Ty Brown, and a top two-way lineman in Max Belko.

The Thundering Herd are cofavorites with Paulsboro in the Colonial Patriot and should be strong South Jersey Group 1 contenders, as well.

Mailahn said he was excited to get back into the role as a head coach. And he probably couldn't have picked a more appropriate opponent for his first game.

"The kids have been teasing me about it," Mailahn said of Haddon Heights students. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

Contact Phil Anastasia at panastasia@phillynews.com.

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