Baseball – Brian Boyce Resigns as Manalapan Head Coach
After 16 years as the head baseball coach at Manalapan High School, Brian Boyce has resigned from his position as Braves skipper, Boyce told Shore Sports Network on Wednesday.
Under Boyce's direction, Manalapan won two NJSIAA overall Group IV championships, three NJSIAA Central Jersey Group IV sectional championships, a Monmouth County Tournament championship and two division championships in a competitive Shore Conference Class A North division.
"My kids are getting older and I think it's time I spent more time with the family," said Boyce, who has three sons ages 11, nine and six. "Coaching high school is more time-consuming than it has ever been and it just felt like the right time to take a step back and let someone else take over so I can be around more for my kids and my wife."
Boyce, 49, began his head-coaching career with four seasons at North Bergen before heading to Manalapan, leading the North Jersey program to the Group IV championship game in 2001, when Boyce and Co. lost to Toms River East in the title game.
Boyce took over at Manalapan for the 2006 season and built the Braves into, arguably, the Shore Conference's top public school program of the past decade. Manalapan won the Monmouth County Tournament championship in 2009, then began a stretch in which the Braves pursued NJSIAA sectional championships, as well as Shore Conference Class A North division titles and high rankings within the Shore over the ensuing decade.
"There were a lot of highlights but I think winning the back-to-back state championships and the job we did placing kids in college are what stand out for me," Boyce said. "As a program, you always try to keep your team in the mix every year to try to win something and I think, for the most part, we always felt like we were competitive with some of the better programs in the Shore and in our state bracket."
Manalapan's best season under Boyce was in 2011, when the Braves went 29-3 and captured their first ever NJSIAA Group IV championship, culminating with a wild 29-14 win over Westfield in the Group IV championship game at Toms River South in which Manalapan's lineup cranked out 32 hits.
One year later, despite returning only two starters from the 2011 team, Manalapan repeated as Group IV champion behind the standout pitching of Joe Serrapica, capping the title run with a 2-0 victory over Hillsborough in the group final at Toms River North.
Under Boyce, the Braves remained a contender in Central Jersey Group IV throughout the next six seasons and in 2019, they added to their NJSIAA trophy collection. Manalapan defeated Old Bridge to win the 2019 Central Jersey Group IV championship before losing to Eastern, 1-0, in controversial fashion in the Group IV semifinals at Monmouth University - one win shy of a third trip to the Group IV championship game.
After losing the 2020 season to the COVID-19 pandemic along with every other team in New Jersey, Manalapan came back with an 18-8 showing in 2021. The Braves were the No. 2 seed in the Shore Conference Tournament and the No. 1 seed in both the Monmouth County and Central Jersey Group IV Tournaments, but an injury to senior ace and Rutgers-bound left-hander Joe Mazza slowed the Braves pursuit of each championship.
Ultimately, Manalapan got Mazza back for the Central Group IV Playoffs and the Monmouth County Tournament and wound up finishing second in the Class A North standings while advancing to both the Shore Conference Tournament and Monmouth County Tournament semifinals. The Braves lost to Marlboro in the Central Jersey Group IV quarterfinals.
Boyce steps away from the Manalapan head-coaching position with a career record of 337-215 and said he expects he will be open to coaching again in the future once the circumstances meet his liking.
"I don't know that I'm totally done," said Boyce, who will retain his teaching job at Manalapan and continue to coach girls tennis. "I know I want to be able to see more of my sons as they get older and maybe help out coaching them. If an opportunity presents itself down the road and the situation is right, I could see getting back in. For now, though, this is the best thing for me and my family."