NFL Recognizes Camden Coach Dwayne Savage

NFL Recognizes Camden Coach Dwayne Savage
Camden’s Dwayne Savage has enjoyed great success coaching many of Camden’s football teams, and the NFL have noticed.
 
Savage is a finalist for the Don Shula Award for high school coach of the year. Each of the 32 NFL teams has one nominee and Savage was the nominee of the Eagles.
 
“I am quite honored,” Savage said in a phone interview.
 
The award is named after Shula, the winningest coach in NFL history. In addition to success on the field, the award honors a coach for his character and integrity, devotion to serving the community, commitment to player health and safety, and on-field success.
 
As a finalist, Savage was invited to the NFL Pro Bowl, which will take place in Orlando, Florida on Jan. 26. The winner of the award will receive $10,000 and his program will receive $15,000.
 
Savage began his coaching career in 1996 as the defensive coordinator for West Side High School in Newark, NJ. From 1997 to 2011, he served as the linebackers coach for Rancocas Valley Regional High School, Pennsauken High School and Woodrow Wilson High School, before assuming his current coaching role at Camden in 2012.
 
At Camden he has a record of 62-25. This season the Panthers went 8-4 and advanced to the South Jersey Group 2 championship before falling, 31-23 to a talented Cedar Creek team.
 
Under Savage, the Panthers have gone 26-8 over the past three years and with several impressive underclassmen, are expected to field a highly competitive team in 2020.
 
Savage has the most challenging situation of his coaching career on Nov. 15 and it had nothing to do with winning and losing. On that day, a Central Jersey Group 2 playoff game between Camden and Pleasantville was halted prematurely in the third quarter as a result of gunfire. Three individuals suffered injuries that evening, including a 10-year-old boy who died five days later.
 
Eventually the Eagles stepped up in a big way and offered to have the game completed at Lincoln Financial Field. Camden, which led 6-0 when the game was halted, completed a 22-0 victory.
 
The Panthers dedicated the victory in the memory of Micah Tennant, the 10-year-old boy who lost his life earlier in the day.
 
On the way to Lincoln Financial Field to complete the game, Savage had the Camden bus stop for a moment of salience in front of Cooper Medical Center where Tennant had been pronounced dead earlier in the day.
 
“This was a situation where the coaching books don’t prepare you for, but we were helped greatly by our school district which gave us counselors and helped counsel the guys and see where their frame of mind was,” Savage said.
 
He also said there is great appreciation for what the Eagles did, not only opening up their field to the teams, but the way they treated both squads. A number of the Eagles players greeted the players as they went out on the field.
 
“That was like a blessing, all the guys got all excited and they got to act like NFL players for a day,” Savage said.
 
He said that there will always be a bond between Pleasantville and have a true bond.
 
“The two teams will be linked forever,” he said.
 

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And Savage will be linked not only with providing a winning tradition at Camden, but being a true leader of young men on and off the field.

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Author: Marc Narducci; Photo courtesy of Dwayne Savage

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