After his team won its first South Jersey title since the start of the NJSIAA playoffs in 1974, Haddonfield football coach Frank DeLano said he was overwhelmed with congratulatory text messages and e-mails.
"I haven't been able to answer them all," DeLano said.
He'd better get ready for some more.
DeLano on Monday night was named South Jersey's coach of the year at the 66th annual Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club banquet at the Westin Hotel in Mt. Laurel.
The announcement was the highlight of an affair at which The Inquirer's all-South Jersey football team was honored along with four standout college players from South Jersey high schools.
DeLano led Haddonfield to a school-record 11 victories and the South Jersey Group 2 championship.
Haddonfield senior defensive lineman Matt Porter, a member of the all-South Jersey team, said the Bulldogs' coaching staff was a key to the team's success.
"Those guys put in so much time away from their families," Porter said. "They do everything they can to help prepare us to win football games."
Haddonfield went 11-1, avenging a 31-28 loss to Colonial Conference rival West Deptford during the regular season with a 16-8 victory over the previously undefeated Eagles in the sectional championship game.
Two weeks earlier, Haddonfield beat Willingboro, another previously undefeated team, by a 38-27 score in the Group 2 semifinals.
Both playoff victories over undefeated teams were on the road.
Haddonfield was led by Porter as well as senior twins Kevin Davis and Chris Davis, a pair of two-way backs.
DeLano, 35, has been Haddonfield's coach for nine years. His record was 14-26 after his first four seasons, as the Bulldogs struggled to compete against some of the better teams in the Colonial Conference.
But Haddonfield went 29-6 over the last three seasons, with six playoff victories. The culmination of the Bulldogs' improvement was this year's playoff championship.
With several top juniors in this year's lineup, Haddonfield should be a strong contender for the Colonial Conference Liberty Division title as well as the South Jersey Group 2 crown again in 2011.
Before Monday night's banquet, DeLano said he was trying not to think that far ahead.
"I told the staff, let's enjoy this through Christmas and then we've got to get back to work," DeLano said.