Gil Brooks has built a national football power from scratch.

He has a head start at Camden Catholic.

Brooks turned St. Joseph's Prep in Philadelphia into a national-caliber program during an 18-year run that ended after the 2009 season.

Brooks, who was announced as Camden Catholic's new football coach Tuesday, said he's taking over a program that is far ahead of where St. Joseph's Prep was in 1992.

"In the years before I got there, they had a record of 9-43," Brooks said of St. Joseph's Prep. "That was a down program. Camden Catholic was a playoff team last year. We've got a good nucleus of returning players.

"Who knows? You do the best you can and see where it takes you."

Brooks, a South Jersey lawyer, replaces Rick Brown, who was fired May 10.

Brooks served as Camden Catholic's defensive coordinator under Brown last season.

Brooks said he was "as surprised as anyone" by Brown's firing and initially did not plan to apply for the job.

"At first, I was not at all interested," Brooks said. "A few of the [returning players] were pretty persistent in encouraging me to look into it."

Brooks, 53, coached St. Joseph's Prep to a 162-57-2 record from 1992-2009. His teams won five Catholic League titles and also won 55 league games in a row from 1999-2007.

Brooks' teams also had an overall winning streak of 35 games from 2001-03. His program gained national exposure by playing a schedule that included opponents such as Don Bosco Prep and Pittsburgh Central Catholic as well as Philadelphia-area powers such as Central Bucks West, North Penn, and Neshaminy.

Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223, at panastasia@phillynews.com or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.