Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Coach's Retirement Stuns Football Community

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Coach's Retirement Stuns Football Community

Article excerpt

Tony Karcich didn't think this day would come.

The St. Joseph athletic director and former football coach never thought Greg Toal would leave the Don Bosco sideline. Toal's relentless competiveness made it difficult to believe he would ever retire as the Ironmen's head coach.

"He's such a competitor and he's always got this energy," Karcich said Thursday. "Those two things are why I thought he'd coach forever."

Karcich was far from alone in thinking that.

Toal's decision to retire from the position he's held since 1999 sent shockwaves through the North Jersey football community, stunning coaches and players who expected Toal to remain at Don Bosco for years to come.

But as they reflected on what Toal accomplished while at the helm of the Ironmen - including nine state titles and two mythical national championships - they all agreed that no coach fielded teams who were tougher or more prepared than Toal's.

And in his 18 seasons at Don Bosco, Toal changed the landscape of North Jersey football and thrust it into the national spotlight.

"New Jersey's really highly thought of nationally because of our football programs, and you've got to say Greg had a lot to do with that," Karcich said. "He took those first steps out of state. Now it's become more commonplace, but he took those initial steps and he banged heads with some of the big boys and made us proud."

Chris Partridge, the former Paramus Catholic head coach who is now on Jim Harbaugh's staff at Michigan as the linebackers coach/ special teams coordinator, said Toal "was a true pioneer in the coaching community."

"I felt he made the model for parochial football. Also put the state in a national spotlight," Partridge said. "I personally tried to take a lot of how he operated his program and learn from it."

Karcich said Toal, who also coached at Saddle Brook, River Dell and Hackensack, was the most competitive coach he ever went up against, a sentiment shared by many.

"Greg Toal is the greatest competitor I ever met," Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile wrote in a message posted on Twitter. "His passion and drive are remarkable. By the force of his will he made everyone around him better. …

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