By TIM KELLY
It’s fitting that Kevin Smith teaches Honors U.S. History II at Ocean City High School.
You see, in his role as head football coach, Smith helped to re-write the Red Raiders’ history of the sport. In the last five years under Smith, O.C. made it to three state championship games and won the Group IV crown in 2019.
During the COVID-19-ravaged 2021 season, Smith and the Raiders went 6-2, won the “Battle of the Bridge” trophy with a rivalry game win over Mainland, and took the West Jersey Football League Independence Division title.
During Smith’s watch, the team went from being a below-average program to a perennial South Jersey power. With support from the district, school administration, parents and fans, the team is near the top in the preseason rankings and the Ocean City game is circled on the calendars of their opponents.
“He (Smith) does more than coach football,” said Maureen Schneider, whose son, Jake, played on the 2021 champions. He teaches them to be men and to be accountable. When the boys buy into that and play as a team, the result on the field takes care of itself.”
With all that success, there remained one aspect of the program in need of major improvement: the team website. An important part of the team’s identity and functionality, the site just didn’t measure up to the level of success the program has become accustomed to.
Ken Wisnefski’s Webmasters team at WebiMax turned the Raiders’ internet fortunes around, just as the team’s profile has emerged as dominant on South Jersey high school football fields.
Enter Ken Wisnefski and the Webmasters. A reality video series focusing on upgrading websites of organizations and businesses, the OCHS football program was a prime candidate for the Webmasters services.
Wisnefski, an Ocean City resident himself and CEO/founder of the digital marketing company WebiMax, put his own team on task to improve the prospects of his hometown high school squad by creating a new website at ocfootball.com.
“The goal was to bring the website up to the same prominence as the Red Raiders’ program,” Wisnefski said. “The coaches and players worked very hard to reach this level of success. They needed a website that would dominate the internet the same way the team dominates on the field.”
The old site had a bulky domain name nobody seemed to be able to remember or find. If they did find it, the site was difficult to navigate. Players and parents couldn’t easily find or post information and college recruiters didn’t have an easy way to find a player’s highlight reel or other info.
If that weren’t enough of a challenge, social media was not integrated. Thus, in order to receive and/or share the latest team info, users needed to bounce around the net from the old website to email, and then onto the various social media platforms.
“Their website was in the stone ages,” Wisnefski said. “Our challenge was to put their web presence at a level close to their prominence as a football team.”
Wisnefski accomplished it by rebuilding the site:
- Junking the bulky old URL and acquiring ocfootball.com which is easy to remember and boosts the Raiders’ brand identity and awareness
- Search option optimization measures to boost the site’s accessibility
- Coordination of social media platforms all under the site’s umbrella
“This is high school football, so pretty much every student has their own smartphone or cell phone,” said Ed Cilurso, WebiMax Director of Business Development.
“Social media is huge for them,” Cilurso continued. “They want to take those ‘Friday Night Lights’ onto the web. They like videos, they like photos, they like stats. We can help with that.”
When the project was done, the site was rebranded and reborn. The result is a user-friendly platform which corrals all of the online news and social media comments of the Ocean City Red Raiders into one easy-to-use place.
Smith said the new platform and easy-to-remember domain name make the site more accessible, as well as flexible, for his coaching needs.
“I love the new site,” Smith said. “It’s really visual and allows us to feature video, which is something we didn’t have before. It’s mobile-friendly too, which the kids really like.”
In a previous interview, Smith said: “If I want to highlight a particular player, I now have the ability to move the athlete’s video and other information to the top of the page. An additional feature is having a wide variety of player and coaching videos near the top of the page.”
“This platform also allows me to address college recruiters, parents, and players much more easily,” Smith added. “I’m still learning how to run it, so I haven’t really updated it yet. But once I do, I’ll make an announcement and encourage people to check it out.”
The local webmaster agreed with his hometown coach: “I’m very pleased with the site. I think it will help coach have a site that matches the values of his team,” Wisnefski said.