Face of the Franchise: Toms River South football
When a Shore Conference football program is mentioned there are certain people that always come to mind. For some, it’s unanimous no matter what era you are from. For others, it’s a fun debate comparing all-time greats from different eras whether they roamed the sidelines as coaches or broke records between the lines.
That got us at the Shore Sports Network wondering: when you think of Shore Conference football, who are the most prominent figures in each program’s history?
With that in mind, we came up with a football feature called Face of the Franchise.
We reached out to all 43 football programs in the Shore Conference and in conjunction came up with nominees for each school. The names and their accomplishments will be listed and fans will have a chance to cast their votes to select who they feel is the Face of the Franchise for each program. Our SSN football crew of Bob Badders, Kevin Williams, Ed Sarluca and Matt Harmon will also put their heads together to make a selection. The polls will run for one week each.
When the Face of the Franchise has been determined for all 43 programs, we’ll run one final poll to see who the fans think should go on top of the mountain; five legends to represent the history of Shore Conference football.
TOMS RIVER SOUTH
Poll closes Tuesday, Jan. 5 at 11:59 p.m.
A dynamic dual-threat quarterback and a standout defensive back, Berry was a two-time All-Shore selection for the Indians in 2013 and 2014, which included leading the program to an 8-3 record in 2013. As a junior, Berry threw for 1,090 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 815 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a senior, he ran for 1,257 yards and 18 touchdowns and threw for seven touchdowns. Berry then played collegiately at Monmouth University where he had a fantastic career. He was a three-year starter as a defensive back for the Hawks and totaled 188 tackles (144 solo) along with six interceptions and 36 passes defended with 35 starts in 44 games played. Berry was a two-time First Team All-Big South selection (2018 and 2019) and a Second Team All-Big South selection as a sophomore. He was a Second Team AFCA All-American as a senior and participated in the 2020 Hula Bowl
The longtime “Voice of the Indians”, Correll has been a fixture at Toms River South and Detwiler Stadium since his own days at the school as a 1957 graduate when it was the only high school in Toms River. His familiar voice has presided over hundreds of games as the school’s public address announcer and his knowledge of all things Toms River South is unmatched. Correll recently retired as a teacher after over 50 years in the classroom. He was also the school’s director of activities and ran the spirit club among his many other contributions to Toms River South.
Chip LaBarca Sr.
A Shore Conference luminary from his tenures at Keansburg and Toms River South, LaBarca compiled a career record of 168-81-6 in 27 seasons. His teams won four NJSIAA sectional titles, and his Toms River South squads captured five Shore Conference Class A South championships during his 16 seasons with the Indians. A star halfback at West Side High School in Newark in the early 1950s, LaBarca went on to attend Upsala College before transferring to Newark College of Engineering. He began his coaching career as an assistant at West Side in 1963 before serving as an assistant at Weequahic from 1964-67. His first head coaching job was at Carteret Prep School in West Orange, where his team went 4-3 in 1968. After serving as an assistant at Cedar Ridge from 1969-71, he was Keansburg’s head coach from 1971-81 and led the Titans to one of their most successful stretches in school history. His teams went 59-28-4 and won two state sectional titles. The Titans were awarded the Central Jersey Group I title in 1973 by the NJSIAA, one year before the creation of the current state playoff system. In 1976, the Titans won the Central Jersey Group I title. LaBarca Sr. cemented his legend while at Toms River South, where his teams went 105-50-2 from 1981-96. The Indians won the South Jersey Group III title in 1983 and 1991 and also reached the sectional finals in 1986 and 1987. LaBarca coached seven all-state players, including his son, Chip LaBarca Jr., who played at Penn State and has won state championships as the head coach at Toms River North and as an assistant at Wall and Brick. LaBarca Jr. is currently the offensive coordinator at Donovan Catholic. LaBarca Sr. passed away in September.
Morris was one of the Shore Conference’s best wide receivers during his career. He was a Second Team All-Shore selection as a junior and as a senior was a First Team All-Shore selection and the Asbury Park Press Offensive Player of the Year. In his senior season in 1998, Morris caught 55 passes for 937 yards and 13 touchdowns, incredible numbers in today’s era of the spread offense and even more amazing considering Toms River South ran the triple-option. He was also a tremendous defensive back and led the Shore Conference with nine interceptions. He caught two touchdown passes from teammate Bill Rankin in the 1999 All-Shore Classic to conclude his high school career. Morris generated college interest from several Divisions I programs and the 6-foot-2, 185-pound wideout picked East Carolina over the likes of Rutgers and Pittsburgh. During his freshman season at ECU, the Pirates upset No. 9 Miami, 27-23 and finished the season ranked in the Top 25. During his junior season, he two touchdown catches in a 54-48 triple-overtime win over Houston. He had 38 catches for 552 yards and three touchdowns as a senior and concluded his career with 67 receptions for 1,018 yards and seven touchdowns.
Ron Signorino Sr.
A Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Famer, Signorino became a Shore Conference coaching legend thanks to a pair of stints at Toms River South and a 16-year run as the defensive coordinator under legendary former Brick coach Warren Wolf. Signorino grew up in western Pennsylvania and played at Penn State before beginning his coaching career at Toms River High School, which is now Toms River South. Signorino coached at Toms River from 1964-1978 and then came back for a second stint from 1997-2000, finishing with a combined record of 109-58-4, including a record of 80-44-4 in his first stint. His “Hitting Indians’’ won Shore Conference Class A titles in 1968, 1976 and 1978, reached the NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV final in 1976 and won the South Jersey Group IV title with a 16-6 win over Cherry Hill East in 1978. He also was the head coach in what is referred to as the “Greatest Game Ever Played’’ in the Shore Conference, a 14-8 loss to Middletown on Nov. 15, 1969, in which Toms River entered the game on a 19-game winning streak and ranked No. 1 in the state by the Newark Star-Ledger, and Middletown entered at 7-0 and ranked No. 2 in New Jersey. In 1981, Signorino joined the staff of bitter rival Brick under Wolf and served as the defensive coordinator during a 16-year stint with the Green Dragons, who won NJSIAA South Jersey Group IV titles in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1989 and a South Jersey Group III title in 1994. Also during that time, Brick won four straight Shore Conference Class A South titles from 1981-84 as well as division championships in 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996. In 1997, Signorino returned as the head coach at Toms River South, finishing 29-14 in his second stint with the Indians and leading them to the Class A South title in 1998 as well as three state playoff appearances, including trips to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III final in 1997 and 1998.
A 1970 graduate of Toms River High School, Walters was a force along the line as a defensive end for two of the greatest teams in Toms River South history. During Walters’ junior and senior years in 1968 and 1969, respectively, the Indians went 17-1 with their only loss coming to Middletown, 14-8, in a game dubbed “The Greatest Game Ever Played” in the Shore Conference as the Lions upended the Indians in a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in New Jersey. Walters played linebacker at the University of Maryland with future Dallas Cowboys great Randy White and was then selected by the Denver Broncos in the 12th round of the 1975 NFL Draft. He never played in the NFL but found a home in the Canadian Football League, playing four years with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and parts of two other seasons with Hamilton and Edmonton after a knee injury derailed his career. In the CFL, Walters made an instant and became one of the league’s top linebackers. He finished his career with 13 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries and was a two-time CFL West All-Star.
Managing editor Bob Badders can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Bob_Badders. Like Shore Sports Network on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube channel for all the latest video highlights.
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