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Shore Football Coaches Foundation Hall of Fame: Bob Grace

From humble beginnings as an assistant coach to a decade as athletic director, Bob Grace has been an integral part of Shore Conference high school football for 53 years.

One of the Shore Conference’s most respected coaches, Grace has served on four different state championship teams as a player and coach since captaining Madison Township (Middlesex County) in 1964 which won the Central Jersey Group 4 State. Title. He was an All-Middlesex County selection that season and graduated in 1965 before embarking on a career at Montclair State University where he was a varsity player for four years.

Grace became a coach immediately after graduating from Montclair State and got her start at Cedar Ridge High School, which had just opened in 1968 to alleviate overcrowding in the former Madison Township HS, which was then renamed Madison Central High School. Grace coached the offensive line from 1969 to 1970 at Cedar Ridge before returning to his alma mater as an offensive backfield coach from 1971 to 1976. In 1972, Madison Central won the Central Jersey Group 3 division title .

Bob and Ann Grace holding the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 Sectional Championship trophy.

Bob and Ann Grace holding the NJSIAA South Jersey Group 3 Sectional Championship trophy.

Grace left Madison Central after the 1976 season and headed to Monmouth County to become the head coach of Freehold Township High School. It started a 43-year coaching career in the Shore Conference. Freehold Township was a relatively new school with only five seasons as a varsity program when Grace took over. In its second season, the Patriots posted their highest win total in program history (3), and in 1980 the Patriots went 6-3 for the program’s first winning season.

Grace coached Freehold Township throughout the 1985 season when he left to become head coach of Point Pleasant Beach High School and have the opportunity to coach his sons Keith and Kyle. He managed the Garnet Gulls from 1986 to 1993 and was also hired as Point Beach Athletic Director in 1991. Grace resigned as football coach after the 1993 season but continued as the DA of the school until 2001. Point Beach was competitive throughout Grace’s years. , including a 6-2-1 record in 1990. Grace was selected as Ocean County Athletic Director of the Year 1999-2000 and in 2010 was inducted into the Association Directors Hall of Fame New Jersey Athletics.

Bob Grace coached his sons Kyle and Keith at Point Pleasant Beach High School.

Bob Grace coached his sons Kyle and Keith at Point Pleasant Beach High School.

in 2003, after a few seasons away from the sidelines, Grace returned to training as an assistant at Wall under head coach Chris Barnes. He became a staple of the Crimson Knights coaching staff for much of the next two decades as an offensive coach from 2003-2021. Grace helped the Crimson Knights win four Shore Conference Division titles (2003, 2007 , 2011, 2019) and winning state section titles in 2016 and 2019. In 2016 under head coach Dan Curcione, Wall went 10-2 and beat Delsea to win the Group 3 championship of SouthJersey. In 2019, Wall went 12-1, captured the Central Jersey Group 3 title, and became the first team in program history to win 12 games. In the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Wall went 7-0, defeated Donovan Catholic in an epic unofficial Shore Conference championship game and finished ranked as New Jersey’s No. 1 team.

Bob Grace with Wall players Casey Larkin, Matt DeSarno and Matt Dollive.

Bob Grace with Wall players Casey Larkin (23), Matt DeSarno (24) and Matt Dollive (7).

Grace will return to the sidelines again this season and will do so at Point Pleasant Beach where he will serve as an assistant to head coach Joe Zaccone.

Grace and his wife Ann have been married for 53 years and have two sons, Keith and Kyle, who both played for their father at Point Beach. Keith is currently a third grade teacher at Ocean Road School in Point Pleasant Boro and Kyle is a captain with the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department.

If you’ve been in Shore Conference football for a short time, chances are you’ve met Bob Grace. And if so, you’re a better person for it. Shore Sports Network, in conjunction with the Shore Football Coaches Foundation, congratulates you on your induction into the SFCF Hall of Fame.

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