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From humble beginnings as an assistant coach to a decade-long stint as an athletic director, Bob Grace has been a fixture of Shore Conference high school football for the past 53 years.

One of the most respected coaches in the Shore Conference, Grace has been a part of four different state championship teams as a player and coach since he was a captain on the 1964 Madison Township (Middlesex County) team that 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 four-year varsity player.

Grace became a coach immediately after graduating from Montclair State and got his start at Cedar Ridge High School, which had just opened in 1968 to alleviate crowding at the former Madison Township HS, which by then was renamed Madison Central High School. Grace was an offensive line coach 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 claimed the Central Jersey Group 3 sectional 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.
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Grace left Madison Central after the 1976 season and headed into Monmouth County to become the head coach at Freehold Township High School. This began a 43-year-and-counting coaching career in the Shore Conference. Freehold Township was a relatively new school with just five seasons as a varsity program when Grace took over. In his 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 through the 1985 season when he left to become the head coach at Point Pleasant Beach High School and have the opportunity to coach his sons Keith and Kyle. He led the Garnet Gulls from 1986 through 1993 and was also hired as Point Beach's Athletic Director in 1991. Grace stepped down from his post as football coach following the 1993 season but continued as the school's AD until 2001. Point Beach was competitive throughout Grace's years, including a high-water mark of 6-2-1 in 1990. Grace was selected as the 1999-2000 Ocean County Athletic Director of the Year and in 2010 was inducted into the Directors of Athletics Association of New Jersey Hall of Fame.

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

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).
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Grace will return to the sidelines again this season and will do so coaching the Wall 10U AYF team.

Grace and his wife Ann have been happily married for 53 years and have two sons, Keith and Kyle, who both played for their father at Point Beach, along with four grandchildren. Keith is currently a third-grade teacher at the Ocean Road School in Point Pleasant Boro and Kyle is a Captain in the Point Pleasant Beach Police Department. If you've been around Shore Conference football for even a short period of time, there's a good chance you've run into Bob Grace. And if so, you are a better person for it. Shore Sports Network in conjunction with the Shore Football Coaches Foundation offers our congratulations on entry into the SFCF Hall of Fame.

 

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