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HomenewsLegendary Football Coach Paul Sacco's Time at St. Joseph (Hamm.) Ends With...

Legendary Football Coach Paul Sacco’s Time at St. Joseph (Hamm.) Ends With a Loss!

Wednesday night’s 17:41 loss at Winslow Township marked the end of Paul Sacco’s remarkable 41-year tenure as the head football coach of St. Joseph (Hamburg).

The Wildcats trailed 14-10 in the fourth quarter before a botched punt snap led to a game-changing touchdown by Winslow and three late scores by the Eagles.

Jimmy Wilson threw five touchdown passes, including three to Ejani Shakir, who recently retired from Penn State, and two to Cam Miller, as Winslow concluded its season with a 6-4 record.

Sacco concluded his tenure at St. Joseph (Hamm.) with a 358-75-5 record and 20 state championships. He is the all-time winningest coach in South Jersey, the third-winningest coach in the state’s history, and has an undefeated record in 41 seasons.

This appeared to be his lone losing season with such an inexperienced and undersized club, but he led the team to a 6-4 record and a spot in the Non-Public B State quarterfinals.

Sacco stated, “It’s been an emotional year, a rollercoaster journey.” “I continue to repeat that I’m glad I stayed with these children. We weren’t particularly talented. I would not trade my experience at St. Joe for anything in the world. Occasionally, things change. I am proud of my children.

People felt we couldn’t win games when we lost the first game, and I thought the same. However, after winning five consecutive games, I concluded that these children have character.

I wish we had performed slightly better tonight, but such is life. I was able to train under Chuck Donahue, who taught me everything. I never believed I was superior to everyone else. I coach junior high football at a little Catholic school in a small hamlet called Hammonton.”

Sacco thanked his parents and wife, who attended the majority of his games and encouraged him to put everything into the program. Within weeks of being hospitalized for a brain hemorrhage in 2010, Sacco returned to coaching and led the Wildcats to a title.

Sacco stated, “I spent 99 percent of my waking hours at St. Joe’s.” “Perhaps I should take a break and spend some time with my family.”

Next year, Sacco hopes to train, but not at St. Joseph (Hamm.). Following a preseason discussion with the school board, he decided that this would be his final year with the Wildcats.

Sacco initially considered retiring before the season, but ultimately decided to lead a squad that concluded the season with 26 players and a new coaching staff, but went 6-4 against one of South Jersey’s most difficult schedules and won a playoff game.

It may have been one of Sacco’s best coaching jobs, and his players were appreciative that he stayed. Sacco speculated that his concentration on strength training may have kept the little team healthy enough to complete the season.

“Everyone said this wasn’t going to be the same St. Joe’s team, but we fought,” said Wednesday’s touchdown scorer, senior quarterback Jimmy Mantuano.

“No game was easy, and we fought back numerous times.
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” I am just very pleased that the season was so successful.
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It kills me that we were unable to send the legend to go with a victory. I wish some things were different, but I wouldn’t change anything about this year for the world.

I was privileged (he came back for one last year). On the day I discovered (he had departed), I cried like a baby. I’ve waited so long for this senior season that it’s been heartbreaking.

When I realized it was him (coaching for another year), I redoubled my efforts. I dedicated each piece to him because I could not thank him enough.”

Mantuano stated that Sacco is distinguished by his attention to detail.

Mantuano stated, “His work ethic was exceptional; no coach in South Jersey works more.” “He is very committed to the school and the team. Never in my life have I seen somebody like that. He and my father are the two most dedicated individuals I’ve ever observed. He will be my role model throughout my entire life.”

Sacco stated that he anticipated Wednesday’s final game and was not looking forward to the entire season.

“From the very first practice, I dreaded the final day,” Sacco added. “This is likely one of the most difficult days of my life. …. However, I’ve lived a pretty decent life.”

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