Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Saluting a Legend

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Saluting a Legend

Article excerpt

Mike Teel remembers the details of the speech 14 years later.

Teel was Don Bosco's junior quarterback in 2002. The Ironmen were to play Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group 4 championship game at Giants Stadium, but snow forced it to be postponed and moved to Oradell.

Don Bosco couldn't host the game because it had a grass field. The Crusaders had turf.

Not an ideal environment for the Ironmen.

But Teel and his teammates sat in the visitors' locker room at Bergen Catholic and listened to coach Greg Toal deliver one of his iconic and passionate pregame speeches.

"I can just remember the speech and the feeling that we were going to go out there and we were going to whoop them," Teel said. "And we did."

Don Bosco won, 26-7, to earn its first title in 12 years. Eight more have followed, along with two mythical national titles.

Toal accomplished yet another coaching milestone Friday, when he earned his 300th victory via the Ironmen's 35-21 victory over DePaul in his 33rd year on the sidelines.

"To get 300 wins as a coach is really a milestone that any coach wishes they could achieve," Ironmen quarterback Tommy DeVito said.

"To be able to say that my coach has it right now in high school, and he's still going, is really amazing."

Toal has won with every program he coached, starting at Saddle Brook, continuing at River Dell and then Hackensack, where he won five straight sectional titles. Then Toal took over at Don Bosco in 1999.

But 300 wins never seemed possible.

"Not even close," said Toal, who is 63. "My first year was a losing season. I had one losing season in my career."

Toal's coaching legacy has been built on his ability to draw the most out of his players.

His teams have talent. But he ensures his players reach their potential.

"I think they feel that he's tough on them and he pushes them, but they believe that they're going to become the player they want to be if they just play the way that he's coaching them," said Nunzio Campanile, Toal's offensive coordinator for 10 years before becoming Bergen Catholic's coach in 2010. …

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