Football: B-I Club to pick Coach of Year
The one surprise at the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club dinner is the announcement of the coach of the year.
The naming of the coach of the year will be the highlight of the 67th annual banquet Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cherry Hill.
The club also will honor The Inquirer's All-South Jersey team as well as college players Johnnie Troutman (Pemberton) of Penn State, Jon Grimes (Paul VI) of William & Mary, Ryan Piatek (Bishop Eustace) of Johns Hopkins and Jay Donoghue (Seneca) of the College of New Jersey.
The club will select the coach of the year from a list of 12 candidates nominated by the coaches.
It's important to note that the coaches chose a candidate from each division. So since Triton's Pete Goetz is the WJFL Royal candidate, then Timber Creek's Rob Hinson -- The Inquirer's Coach of the Year -- is not eligible. And since Haddon Heights' Ralph Schiavo is the Colonial Liberty candidate, then West Deptford's Clyde Folsom is not eligible.
Among the top candidates are St. Joseph's Paul Sacco, Millville's Jason Durham, Pennsauken's Clinton Tabb, Camden Catholic's Gil Brooks and Washington Township's Mark Wechter.
Other candidates are Hammonton's Pete Lancetta, Haddon Heights' Schiavo, Paulsboro's Glenn Howard, Woodrow Wilson's Chris Crowley, Triton's Goetz, Woodstown's John Adams and Pennsville's Ryan Wood.
Sacco won his 14th state title since the NJSIAA expanded the Non-Public tournament to the state championship round as St. Joseph went 10-0 and finished No. 1 in The Inquirer Top 10.
Durham led Millville to an 11-1 mark as well as the Cape-Atlantic American crown and a berth in the South Jersey Group 4 title game.
Tabb led Pennsauken to an 11-1 record and its first South Jersey Group 4 title since 1986.
Brooks, in his first year at Camden Catholic, led the Irish to a 10-1 record, the West Jersey Constitution crown and a berth in the Non-Public 2 state title game.
Wechter led a rebirth at Washington Township as the Minutemen bounced back from a 3-7 season to finish 7-4, with a Group 4 playoff victory.
Lancetta led Hammonton to a 9-3 record, the Cape National title and the South Jersey Group 3 title game.
In his first season at Haddon Heights, Schiavo guided the Garnets to an 8-3 mark and a South Jersey Group 1 playoff victory.
Howard led Paulsboro to a 7-3 mark and the Colonial Patriot title.
Crowley led Woodrow Wilson to the West Jersey Independence title and a South Jersey Group 3 playoff victory.
Goetz led Triton to an 8-3 mark, one season after the Mustangs went 3-7, and a South Jersey Group 4 playoff victory at Southern Regional.
Adams guided Woodstown to a share of the West Jersey Diamond title, and Wood led Pennsville to a 9-2 mark, the West Jersey Classic championship and a berth in the South Jersey Group 1 title game.
Here's a few more highlights of the season:
Best single-game performance: Manny Cortez, Pennsauken, in the Dec. 2 South Jersey Group 4 title game against Millville. Cortez accounted for eight touchdowns -- five passing, three rushing -- in a 55-34 victory.
Runner-up: Zaire Williams, Cherokee, in Nov. 5 game at Cherry Hill East. The junior ran for 385 yards and six touchdowns in a 57-56 overtime loss.
Best game: Millville, 42, Washington Township 41, in the South Jersey Group 4 semifinals on Nov. 18. Millville jumped out 35-7, Washington Township roared back and the Minutemen went for a two-point conversion with 0:31 on the clock. Millville's Shaq Lee intercepted the conversion pass.
Runner-up: Camden Catholic 42, Pennsauken 35, on Oct. 21. A speeding bullet of a game that featured an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play.
Best blocking: Holy Spirit's offensive line in 51-7 victory over Camden Catholic in Non-Public 2 title game Dec. 2. The Spartans scored 51 and didn't complete a pass.
Runner-up: Tie between Cherokee and Cherry Hill East offensive lines on the Nov. 5 afternoon when Chiefs' Williams and the Cougars' Brian Regan combined for 667 rushing yards and nine touchowns.
Best tackling: St. Joseph in 34-7 victory over Holy Spirit. The Oct. 1 battle of No. 1 vs. No. 2 was dominated by the Wildcats defense.
Timber Creek in a a suffocating, 23-0 victory over Lacey Township Nov. 11 in South Jersey Group 3 tournament.
Best comeback: Down 17-0, Washington Township ripped off 36 unanswered points in a 42-23 victory over Williamstown in the South Jersey Group 4 tournament on Nov. 11. Junior quarterback Tom Hildebrand was 7-for-his-last-7 passing for 181 yards and three touchdowns.
Down 20-7 after one quarter, Pennsville kicked into another gear and raced to a 55-35 victory over Glassboro on Oct. 28 as senior Ryan Hawthorne scored five touchdowns.
Toughest break: Tie between Williamstown's Chris Inge and Shawnee's Kyle Wigley. Both senior running backs/cornerbacks were off to great starts and looked poised to lead their teams to strong seasons.
Both suffered season-ending ACL tears -- Wigley in September and Inge in October. Both teams never fully recovered.
-- Phil Anastasia