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Home People Records, milestones & what people are saying about St. Joseph (Hamm.) coach Paul Sacco

Records, milestones & what people are saying about St. Joseph (Hamm.) coach Paul Sacco

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They gathered near the end zone, a post-game tradition – win or lose.

Players extended their hand, gave him a hug – the ultimate display of respect, gratitude and disappointment. Friends and family joined in, typical of the family atmosphere that’s so near and dear to his heart.

The Paul Sacco era at St. Joseph (Hamm.) was over, the final chapter of a book loaded with terrific memories and splendid moments had been written.

In the 438th game of a 41-year career, Sacco walked off the field knowing he had given his all.

Winslow posted a 42-17 victory over St. Joseph on a chilly Wednesday night, scoring 28 fourth-quarter points in West Jersey Football League play. Sacco leaves his alma mater with a 358-75-5 career record and the winningest coach in South Jersey history.

Paul Sacco addresses his team after coaching the St. Joseph (Hamm.) football team for the final time. The winningest coach in South Jersey history and third in state history has been at the helm of his alma mater for 41 seasons. Kevin Minnick | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

“It’s been an emotional year, been a roller-coaster,” Sacco said. “I’ve said it over and over, I’m glad I stayed with these kids. … I’m glad I hung with them. It’s been a wonderful experience at St. Joe and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

“Since the first scrimmage driving up to St. Joe Montvale, I dreaded the last day. I really did. … Sooner or later, all good things come to an end and as each day went by some days were hard to practice and other days it wasn’t.”

Continue to scroll down as we take a look at the highly successful career of Paul Sacco and his 41 seasons as head coach at St. Joseph.

Year-by-year

  • 1982: 6-2-1
  • 1983: 7-3
  • 1984: 9-1
  • 1985: 8-1-1
  • 1986: 8-2-1
  • 1987: 7-3
  • 1988: 8-2
  • 1989: 7-4
  • 1990: 8-0-1
  • 1991: 6-3-1
  • 1992: 8-2
  • 1993: 8-3
  • 1994: 7-4
  • 1995: 7-3
  • 1996: 10-1
  • 1997: 11-0
  • 1998: 10-1
  • 1999: 10-1
  • 2000: 9-2
  • 2001: 10-1
  • 2002: 10-1
  • 2003: 10-1
  • 2004: 10-1
  • 2005: 11-0
  • 2006: 11-0
  • 2007: 7-3
  • 2008: 5-5
  • 2009: 8-3
  • 2010: 10-1
  • 2011: 10-0
  • 2012: 10-1
  • 2013: 11-1
  • 2014: 11-0
  • 2015: 10-2
  • 2016: 7-4
  • 2017: 12-0
  • 2018: 10-2
  • 2019: 9-2
  • 2020: 7-2
  • 2021: 9-3
  • 2022: 6-4
  • Career record: 358-75-5

Milestone moments

Sept. 25, 1982: Sacco wins his first game as head coach of his alma mater. The Wildcats post a 26-16 victory against Wildwood at William T. Capella Field in Cape-Atlantic League action.

Sept. 29, 1995: On a Friday night at Buena, Sacco won his 100th career game as the Wildcats posted a 13-0 victory over the Chiefs in CAL play.

Oct. 23, 2005: Sacco earns career win No. 200 as the Wildcats roll to a 54-0 decision over Middle Township in a CAL game. They collected 315 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground, led by Jack Corcoran (10 carries, 85 yards, three TDs) and Richard White (five carries, 78 yards, TD; two catches, 68 yards, TD). Dominic Marchiani (11 tackles) and Drew Dunnet (10 tackles) led the defense.

Nov. 8, 2014: In his 33rd season, Sacco becomes the winningest coach in South Jersey history. The Wildcats defeated Ocean City 49-0, giving Sacco his 286th career win – passing longtime Florence coach Joe Frappolli. It was the ninth win of the season without a loss and gave them the CAL American title.

Sept. 9, 2016: The Wildcats presented Sacco his 300th career win, a 50-7 rout of Mainland in West Jersey Football League action. They rushed for 206 yards and four touchdowns, while Matt Tucker completed 7-of-10 passes for 137 yards and two scores.

Oct. 23, 2021: Playing their first ‘home game’ in two years, the Wildcats defeat Washington Township 31-21 to the delight of their Homecoming crowd. The win was No. 350 and gave St. Joe the WJFL Continental crown. Ja’son Prevard connected with wideout Jammer Cartagena on five passes for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

Nov. 23, 2022: The outcome isn’t what he wanted, a 42-17 loss to Winslow, but Sacco directs his Wildcats for the final time.

Paul Sacco - St. Joseph (Hamm.)

Paul Sacco won his 300th career game on Sept. 9, 2016 – 50-7 over Mainland. Lori Nichols | NJ Advance Media for NJ.comSJN

By the numbers

0: Number of losing seasons

6: undefeated and untied teams (1997, 2005, 2006, 2011, 2014, 2017)

545: most points scored in a single season (2017)

12: Non-Public, Group 1 state championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014)

7: Non-Public, Group 2 state championships (2003, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2015, 2017, 2018)

1: Non-Public, Groups 1 & 2 combined state championships (2010)

8: Consecutive state championships (1999-2006)

6: South Jersey, Parochial B sectional titles (1983, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992)

23: State championship appearances

81-7: Overall record during span of eight straight championship seasons

HS Football: St. Joe's (Hamm) at Winslow, Wed. Nov. 23.

St. Joseph head coach Paul Sacco speaks to his team one last time after Wednesday’s season finale against Winslow. It was the final game of his 41-year career.Dave Hernandez | For NJ Advance

What they’re saying

“He is dedicated to all facets of being a football coach – strength training, working and helping get kids into school, developing teams that were fundamentally sound and physical. He has done an absolutely incredible job with that program over the years and is just a guy who did it as good as anybody. There’s a lot of stuff that goes along with coaching that people don’t see and don’t understand; the time that’s put into it. … I knew he would work. And if you work at anything – especially football, being willing to put the time in – the rest will take care of itself. It’s the end of an unbelievable run. I’m happy for him and hope he stays in the game because he still has a lot to offer. He’s been good for the game.” – Chuck Donohue Sr., current coach at Southern Regional who started head coaching career at St. Joe’s. Sacco played for Donohue and was later a member of his staff.

“Playing for Coach Sacco was something that I will forever be grateful for. From Day 1 when I met with coach on a rainy night in September, before transferring to St. Joe, we had an immediate bond. Coach led our team on the pillars of faith, family and hard work. He preached and modeled the idea that hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. Some of the most memorable moments with coach and the team came from the family attribute. Coach and his wife, Peggy, cared for us like we were their own. This showed from the nights spent in pre-game at his house enjoying team meals, and especially in our annual Thanksgiving trips to Philly and our adventures to Hurricane Harbor in the summers. Lastly, and most importantly, Coach taught all his players to have high character; to live life with respect to others and always have the highest level of sportsmanship win or lose. Thank you coach for helping mold me and so many others before and after into great men after our time at St. Joe as a part of the football team.” – former player C.J. LaFragola

“I’m sad we couldn’t bring it home for him. We tried our best but just couldn’t get it done. …. It’s amazing. He doesn’t give up and really motivates me, I’m not going to lie to you. No matter how much is on him, he never gives up. He really motivates me. That’s my guy.” – senior RB/LB Richard Chandler

“He’s impacted so many coaches that were on his staff that branched out and became head coaches. He’s like the Nick Saban of the world. It’s not only what he’s done as far as wins and losses, championships. His principles and standards set him apart. My coaching style came from what I learned from him.” – Clyde Folsom, who served as an assistant on Sacco’s first team and went on to great success at Bishop Eustace and West Deptford

HS Football: St. Joe's (Hamm) at Winslow, Wed. Nov. 23.

St. Joseph head coach Paul Sacco takes the field for the last time after 41 seasons.
Dave Hernandez | For NJ Advance

“I want to congratulate Coach Sacco on a legendary career. He’s an even better human than he is a coach and I’m proud to have played and learned so much from him. I wish him the absolute best in whatever he decides to do next.” – former player Jack Corcoran

“Just the fact that he’s coached so many young men in and around our community speaks volumes. It’s tough to coach that long. He was dedicated to his craft and was most successful at it. Coach Sacco was really the guy who gave me my start in coaching. His teams were always prepared – physically, mentally and the X’s and O’s. His record speaks for itself. We all learned a great deal from him.” – Pete Lancetta, current St. Augustine coach who played for Sacco at St. Joe and has coached with and against him.

“Coach Sacco’s reach extends way beyond the wins and championships. He influences and will continue to affect countless programs and players today through his coaching tree. My mentor, Clyde Folsom, is just one of many successful coaches that have worked under him. Many of the things I do today, from practice routines to weight training, were started with Coach Sacco. It’s an end of an era and a legacy that will be hard for any aspiring coach to match.” – John Emel, Penns Grove head coach and president of the West Jersey Football Coaches Association

“Any time you get to face one of the blue bloods in South Jersey, it’s a great opportunity for our program. I have a ton of respect for what he’s done over rage course of his career. Having an opportunity to coach against him was great.” – Winslow coach Bill Belton

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Kevin Minnick covers the West Jersey Football League. He can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @kminnicksports

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