Nothing came easy for the St. Joseph football team this season.
The Wildcats lost their first game in convincing fashion to rival St. Augustine and they struggled all season to perform at maximum efficiency because of nagging knee ailments that limited senior stars Salaam Horne and A'Laam Horne.
And in the first quarter of the state championship game, St. Joseph lost its top lineman and senior leader Derek Lomax to a dislocated ankle.
In the end, St. Joseph finished a "transition" season with a 10-2 record, a seven-game winning streak and the program's seventh consecutive state title.
On Monday night, St. Joseph's Paul Sacco was named coach of the year by the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club at the organization's 71st annual awards banquet.
The all-South Jersey team also was honored at the event at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Cherry Hill.
Sacco is South Jersey's all-time leader in career victories. He will enter the 2016 season with a record of 288-58-5.
Aiken to Central Conn. State. Paulsboro senior quarterback Carlton Aiken on Friday committed to join the Northeast Conference program.
"What won me over is where the program is going," said Aiken, who also had offers from Cornell and New Hampshire. "Ever since coach [Pete] Rassomando has been there, the program has been on the up and up. More wins each season.
"I want to be part of that. I want to be part of the change in the program."
A dual threat as a passer and runner, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Aiken led Paulsboro to an 18-5 record in his two seasons with the Red Raiders.
Aiken passed for a combined total of more than 3,500 yards with 32 touchdowns and ran for a combined 1,100 yards with 22 touchdowns.
Aiken said he is Central Connecticut's first recruit in the class of 2016.
"I'm the only quarterback" the team is recruiting in his class, Aiken said. "I can't wait to get back up there and start playing again."
Harmon reopens recruiting. Palmyra senior wide receiver Kelvin Harmon withdrew his commitment to South Carolina late last week, citing ongoing changes in the program since the retirement of former coach Steve Spurrier.
Harmon said he will reconsider the five teams that were among his top six when he committed to South Carolina in November: Rutgers, Temple, West Virginia, North Carolina, and North Carolina State.
The 6-foot-2 Harmon finished his career with 160 catches for 2,650 yards and 36 touchdowns, ranking third in South Jersey history in all three categories.
Quite a kick. How important was junior kicker Pat Moran to Cedar Creek's drive to the South Jersey Group 2 title?
Consider: Moran was 9 for 9 in extra points in three tournament games.
Cedar Creek won two of those games - 21-20 over Collingswood in the first round and 28-27 over West Deptford in the sectional final - by the margin of one of Moran's extra points.
Bucknell offer. Triton senior lineman Tyrus Legenski, who was honored by the Brooks-Irvine Club on Monday night with a scholar-athlete award, has picked up a scholarship offer from Bucknell.