Millville high school has a new head football coach, but the job of leading one of New Jersey's best public school programs is staying in the Thunderbolts family.

Former head coach Dennis Thomas led the Thunderbolts for the past seven seasons and built a championship pedigree by winning two NJSIAA state sectional titles, the South Jersey Group IV and South/Central Regional titles, also claiming the South Jersey Group V championship in 2016. Thomas went 52-24 at the helm but stepped down back in April to join the Rutgers football staff.

His replacement? Former assistant coach Humberto Ayala.

Ayala confirmed to reporter Mark Trible that he was approved as the Thunderbolts' new head coach, going from offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach to head coach. He has been the offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the past three seasons under Thomas.

I don’t know if words can explain...I never expected to have this opportunity. But, I’m not one to stand at the door of opportunity when it opens. I learned a lot from Dennis. He paved the way here. The goal is to continue what he's built.

Before coming to Millville, Ayala spent time at Woodrow Wilson and teaches health and physical education at Millville.

He was endorsed for the job by Thomas according to Trible.

I believe Millville did a phenomenal job hiring Coach Ayala. He's a guy who loves the kids and will do what it takes to ensure that Millville continues to succeed on the playing field and in the classroom.

Millville had several standout seniors last season and will have multiple starters to replace, but they also had plenty of young talent returning for Ayala.

Ayalya will coach his first game against traditionally power Thomas Jefferson (PA) in The Battle at the Beach in Ocean City on August 28 at 11 a.m.

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