Coach Bo Wood’s legacy shows the best of East sports


Courtesy of Mr. Erick Wood

Coach Bo Wood encourages young East football players.

Story Originally appeared in 2020 February Issue

The name of Coach Bo Wood has been well-known in the Cherry Hill East community ever since he led the Cougars football team to a state championship victory in 1988.

However, his journey did not start at East. Wood was a three-sport athlete at Haddon Heights High School, where he earned 11 varsity letters. He was an outstanding athlete in any sport he played, whether it was football, track or swimming.

Not only was he able to prove himself as a player, but he was also honored as the team captain for all three teams. Although those three sports were a key part of Wood’s life, he knew if he wanted to make a living, but also do what he loved, he had to make a decision. Also, coming from a school that, at the time, was not huge on sports, he had to work even harder to get where he wanted to go. For all three sports, he won All-South Jersey and received notable honors during his athletic career. Life as a multi-athlete wasn’t easy for Wood; however, he did get more exposure in one particular sport: football.

Along with his many other accomplishments, Wood was inducted into the New Jersey Coaches Hall of Fame in 1987 and the East Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

“I guess the biggest reason I chose to continue on with football was that I could make money… Also, in high school, I was able to play games with the Varsity team and see the game at a higher level, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Wood.

And it was in football that he gained notoriety; he earned a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where he played for the Tar Heels his final three years and became an All-American in 1966.

His football career didn’t stop there.

“I was contacted by a lot of teams when I got closer to the draft time, different teams saying they were interested, and of course I was interested in [going into the NFL too],” said Wood.

In 1967, the New Orleans Saints drafted him in the sixth round, and he stayed with them for roughly a year. Although he was drafted, he still had to work extremely hard to make the team and prove he should wear the Saints’ black and gold.

“When I was drafted I was extremely excited about it, but of course when you’re drafted, you’re not on the team [yet]… you have to make the team,” said Wood.

After staying with the Saints for a year, he was eventually traded to the Atlanta Falcons, played with the Canadian Football League in 1969 and then returned to North Carolina where he earned his Master’s degree in Physical Education.

Before Wood came to East, he started his coaching career at Bishop Eustace. But he eventually found his way over to the Cougars. Wood’s first grade teacher had been in the Cherry Hill School District and reached out to Wood to offer him a position at East as a physical education teacher. Wood accepted the position and coached all three sports he had previously participated in. He coached the football team through one of its best seasons in 1988, going undefeated and being named the New Jersey State Champions.

“I wanted to make a pro offense and ran the back all the time… I wanted a change and expose the players to professional plays, too,” said Wood.

Not only has Wood left his mark on East, but several players and coaches also left a mark on his journey. When coaching at East, he was lucky enough to coach players that eventually moved into the NFL (one of them, incidentally, played for his old high school coach). Players including Pete Kugler (‘77), Glenn Foley (‘89) and Stan Clayton (‘83) all joined the NFL after their time under Wood.
With so many outstanding players and other coaches, Wood certainly had an incredible run in his athletic career and has always shown his passion and dedication in his favorite field, football.

After being inducted into the East Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018, Wood said, “Thirty-three years at Cherry Hill, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, home or workplace.”