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Phil Anastasia: Camden Catholic hires Gil Brooks as football coach

Gil Brooks, highly successful coach for 18 years at St. Joe's Prep, has been named the new head football coach at Camden Catholic.

This is a big deal.

Brooks replaces Rick Brown, who was fired May 10.

Brooks was Camden Catholic's defensive coordinator last season. Before that, Brooks turned St. Joe's Prep into a national-caliber program.

Brooks, a South Jersey attorney, had a 162-57-2 record at the Prep. His teams played a national schedule, especially in his final 12-15 years.

Brooks' teams won five Catholic League titles. His teams had a 35-game winning streak from 2001-03 and a 55-game Catholic League winning streak from 1999-2007.

Brooks was a master at attracting top players to the Prep. His emergence on the South Jersey scene is sure to have an impact on the landscape as programs such as Camden Catholic, Paul VI, Bishop Eustace, Holy Cross and St. Augustine Prep contend to attract players in what has become an increasingly competitive atmosphere.

Winning is a huge deal these days as private schools sense the importance of a high-profile, successful sports programs to build school spirit and unity and help with enrollment. And a lot of those schools are in a fight for survival.

Camden Catholic didn't hire Brooks to go 6-4, although nobody will come out and say that. And it might take a couple seasons for his program to be fully implemented.

But it's clear the Irish want to have a big-time football program. They've got that new field and they've got concerns about the future of their school -- as do most private schools.

This is significant. Brooks likely will try to turn Camden Catholic into a St. Joe's Prep-caliber football program -- and that can only happen if fewer top players go to other South Jersey schools.

It's late May, and football season is heating up.

-- Phil Anastasia