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Tabb named coach of year by Brooks-Irvine

His team's only loss of the season was just minutes old when Pennsauken coach Clinton Tabb gathered his senior leaders and looked them in the eye.

His team's only loss of the season was just minutes old when Pennsauken coach Clinton Tabb gathered his senior leaders and looked them in the eye.

At the other end of Shamrock Field, Camden Catholic was celebrating a thrilling 42-35 victory over Pennsauken in a furious-paced, back-and-forth battle of unbeatens on Oct. 21.

Tabb challenged his top players to overcome their disappointment, to look forward and not back - and to use the loss to one of their fiercest rivals as fuel for the remainder of the season.

"This changes nothing," Tabb said told his seniors that Friday night. "All of our goals are still there in front of us."

Tabb was named the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club's Coach of the Year Monday night at the organization's 67th annual banquet at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill.

Tabb's award was the highlight of an event in which the All-South Jersey football team was honored along with college stars Johnnie Troutman (Pemberton) of Penn State, Jon Grimes (Paul VI) of William and Mary, Ryan Piatek (Bishop Eustace) of Johns Hopkins and Jay Donoghue (Seneca) of the College of New Jersey.

Haddonfield lineman Jim Cashman, Timber Creek linebacker Quanzell Lambert, Moorestown quarterback Andrew Lisa and Woodstown lineman Jake Prus were honored as scholar athletes.

In addition, former Eastern and Woodbury coach Larry Ginsburg was presented with the Edward G. Myer Distinguished Service Award; senior Nick Follet of Cherokee received the Edward Miersch Scholarship; senior Tyler Margraf received the Brooks-Irvine Scholarship; and Woodstown High School was presented with the Sam Fulton Sportsmanship Award.

Tabb's ability to rally from his team from its only defeat was the key to Pennsauken's best season in 25 years.

The Indians won their final six games in increasingly dominant fashion, finishing the season with a 55-34 victory over undefeated Millville in the South Jersey Group 4 championship game Dec. 2 at Rowan University.

Pennsauken (11-1), the No. 3 team in The Inquirer final Top 10, won its first South Jersey Group 4 title since 1986. The Indians also were champions of the West Jersey Football League's National Division for the second year in a row.

Tabb, a 1997 Pennsauken graduate who became the Indians' head coach in 2009, laid the groundwork for this championship season in the summer when he formulated "Code Red" - a set of sayings that helped guide the Indians through the ups and downs of the long campaign.

From the coach's perspective, one of the most important was one of the simplest: "We will not panic in the face of tough times."

Tabb said before the season that some previous Pennsauken teams had not responded well to adversity, for a variety of reasons.

But this team was different. Eight days after the loss to Camden Catholic, Pennsauken beat a 5-1 Washington Township team by a 40-8 score.

The Indians averaged 38.5 points in those final six victories. They beat Triton and Atlantic City in the first two rounds of the South Jersey Group 4 tournament, snapped a two-game losing streak to Thanksgiving rival Bishop Eustace, and thrilled a crowd of 8,000 spectators at the sectional title game at Rowan with their highest-scoring game of the season.

What might have been a perfect, 12-0 season had the Indians won that shootout with Camden Catholic somehow seemed even more impressive, as they turned adversity to their advantage.

That's the main reason a roomful of football people stood and applauded for Clinton Tabb on Monday night.