The Shore Conference has lost a football coaching legend
The Shore Sports Network has learned that Hall of Fame football coach Chip LaBarca Sr. has passed away at the age of 83.
LaBarca was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2011 based on his championship career as a head coach at Keansburg and Toms River South. He compiled a career record of 168-81-6 in 27 seasons, winning four NJSIAA state sectional titles and eight Shore Conference division championships.
LaBarca was a star halfback at West Side High School in Newark in the early 1950s before attending Upsala College and later transferring to Newark College of Engineering. He began his coaching career at West Side in 1963 before serving as an assistant at Weequahic from 1964-1967. His first head coaching job was at Carteret Prep School in West Orange where his team went 4-3 in 1968. LaBarca was then an assistant coach at Cedar Ridge High School in Old Bridge from 1969-1971.
LaBarca came to the Shore Conference to begin what would become a legendary career when Keansburg hired him as its head coach in 1971. What followed was one of the most successful stretches in program history as the Titans went 59-28-4 and won two state sectional titles from 1971-1981. Keansburg was awarded the Central Jersey Group 1 title in 1973 by the NJSIAA, one year before the creation of the current playoff system. In 1976, the Titans won the Central Jersey Group 1 crown with a 14-0 win over Highland Park to finish the season with a 9-2 record.
LaBarca cemented his legacy during a 15-year tenure at Toms River South from 1981-1996. While patrolling the sidelines at Detwiler Stadium, LaBarca's Indians went 105-50-2, won five division titles, captured two NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 championships and also reached the sectional final in 1986 and 1987. The 1983 team went 10-1 and secured Toms River South's seventh overall state title and second of the playoff era with 17-14 win over Eastern Regional. In 1991, Toms River South edged Woodrow Wilson, 7-6, to once again hoist the South Jersey Group 3 championship trophy.
LaBarca coached seven all-state players, including his son, Chip LaBarca Jr., who went on to play at Penn State. LaBarca Jr. was the head coach at Toms River North for seven seasons from 2006-2012 and led the Mariners to a 12-0 season and the South Jersey Group 4 title in 2007. LaBarca Jr. was also the offensive coordinator at Brick when the Dragons won the Central Jersey Group 4 title in 2013 and the offensive coordinator at Wall when the Crimson Knights won the South Jersey Group 3 title in 2016. He is currently the offensive coordinator at Donovan Catholic.