The Shore Conference football community is mourning the passing of an iconic coaching legend in Chip LaBarca Sr. following a lengthy illness at the age of 83.

The Hall of Fame coach won a pair of NJSIAA state sectional titles at Keansburg from 1971-81 but it was at Toms River South where he would cement his legacy in the very competitive Class A South division.

LaBarca guided the Indians for 15 seasons, winning five division championships and South Jersey Group 3 titles in 1983 and 1991.  He made Friday nights at Detweiler Stadium in the fall the place to be and his teams were a reflection of his offensive imagination and fun to watch, even fun to cover for reporters like me.

The West Side High School and Newark College of Engineering graduate compiled a career record of 168-81-6 over 27 seasons and LaBarca was inducted into the Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame in 2011.

Among the many outstanding players he coached was his son Chip Jr. an All-State wide receiver at TR South who would go on to play at Penn State.  It was no surprise that “young” Chip would follow in his father’s footsteps and find immediate success.  Like father, like son Chip LaBarca Jr. won a state title as the head coach at Toms River North, later was the offensive coordinator when the Green Dragons claimed a state championship and is now the offensive coordinator at Donovan Catholic and coming off a division title.

Throughout his coaching tenure the son had his father as a valuable source of knowledge and expertise and he didn’t have to look far. Dad never missed a game, sitting in the stands with the rest of the close-knit family showing their support.  All of us who love Shore Conference football mourn the passing of an all-time great coach and send our condolences to the entire LaBarca Family.