John Kaye is well aware the job as Matawan Regional High School’s head coach is one of the most coveted positions in Shore Conference football.
“To be mentioned in the same sentence with Barry Rizzo (Matawan’s legendary head coach from 1953-1980) and Joe Martucci (Matawan’s head coach the last 28 seasons) is very humbling,” Kaye said.
Kaye, who served as an assistant coach for a combined 19 seasons under Martucci, including the last 17 and was a head coach at Hillside High School from 1990-94, became the Huskies’ head coach this past winter after Martucci retired.
Matawan won 197 games and five NJSIAA sectional champion, under Martucci, who is now the running backs coach at Kean University.
“All the guys on the coaching staff take a lot of pride in the program and breed Maroon and Steel,” Kaye said.
Kaye is one of three new head coaches in the Shore. Nick Gregorio is the new head coach at Wall. He takes over for Chris Barnes, who retired from coaching after 12 successful seasons at Wall and 18 seasons as a head coach. Derek Reichenbecher is the new head coach at Howell. He takes over for Cory Davies, who retired as a head coach after 21 seasons.
When Martucci resigned in early January, Kaye, whose Hillside teams went 30-15-1, knew he had to make a decision. He had been the Huskies’ head baseball coach since 1997 and had built that program into a competitive one. He knew if he applied for the football job and got the job, he would eventually have to resign as the baseball coach.
“I put a lot of work into that program (baseball), but I felt it was important that the job (the football job) stayed with the staff,” Kaye said.
Kaye was named head coach in late February. He resigned as baseball coach after the 2012 season.
Matawan graduated 20 seniors from a team that won the Central II championship with a 3-0 upset over then defending sectional champion Rumson-Fair Haven. It was Matawan’s second sectional title in the last three seasons. The Huskies have been in the sectional final the last three seasons.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Kaye said. “Our numbers are an issue. We’ve got a young team that is going to get thrown into the fire in a big hurry.”
Kaye, who has many of the assistant coaches who served under Martucci in recent seasons, said he will do things a little different than Martucci while trying to emulate his work ethic.
“We will leave no stone uncovered. We will do our due diligence,” Kaye said.
Like Kaye, Gregorio has previous experience as a head coach. He was the head coach at A.L. Johnson in 2009-2010. His Johnson teams went 11-9 with an NJSIAA Central Group II playoff berth in 2009, when they were defeated by Rumson-Fair Haven n the first round.
Gregorio was the offensive line coach at Kean last season.
Wall, under Barnes, went 90-38 with an NJSIAA Central Group II championship in 2002 and five Shore Conference divisional championships. The Crimson Knights went 8-2 and won the Class C Central championship last season. However many of the key players from that team graduated.
Reichenbecher, a former Howell player, was Howell’s defensive coordinator the last two seasons and four of the last five. He was the Rebels’ offensive coordinator four of the six seasons from 2004-2009.
Howell went 105-113 under Davies, but had success the last seven seasons after Davies installed the Texas Tech spread offense. The Rebels went 48-28 the last seven seasons with the Central Group IV championship in 2007, their only sectional title, and divisional titles in 2008 and 2009
Reichenbecher will stick with the spread offense.