John Barber has a new high school soccer team to coach.
His old team may not have a season left to play later this year.
After eight seasons leading the Holy Trinity program, a merged team centered around Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons in Schenectady, Barber was officially named Troy High Schools varsity football coach last Wednesday. Barber inherits that role from Bob Burns, who was hired to coach football at CBA in June after leading the Flying Horses to three undefeated seasons and two state championships in six seasons.
Were so excited. We couldn’t be happier with coach Barber, Troy athletic director Paul Reinisch said Monday of the hire. To have someone as respected as he is, as successful as he is, and someone with tremendous integrity and an unparalleled work ethic, we were lucky enough to have him interested in us.
A major reason for that interest, Barber acknowledged, is the precarious status of football at Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons. The school had participated in recent years as part of a merged football program, often with great success, but that arrangement ended after last season, leaving Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons to play alone for the 2021 fall season.
If we could keep the three-school program going at Holy Trinity, I’d probably still be there, said Barber, who recently coached a team that included players from Bishop Maginn, Catholic Central and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons. But the schools decided to dissolve the merger, and there aren’t enough kids with Bishop Gibbons to play.
For now, Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons remains on the Section II Class D schedule, but it seems unlikely the school will play football this coming season. Barber said the school had fewer than 10 kids interested in football, and Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons athletic director Pat Moran said the school needs more kids first to show they want to play before school. hires a new coach and approves a fall season.
We’d need 10 or 12 more kids to make me feel comfortable, Moran said.
Section II football coordinator Bob Dorrance confirmed that Notre Dame Bishop Gibbons had not yet officially canceled his fall 2021 season, and Moran said such a decision would not be made until sometime in August. Deadlines have already passed for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons to develop a new merged program for the upcoming season, but Moran said he is already in talks with other schools about a merged program for the 2022 campaign.
With Holy Trinity, Barber built one of the best Section II small school programs in recent years. Before Holy Trinity was unable to complete the second half of the Fall II season played earlier this year due to a lack of healthy players, Holy Trinity regularly fielded winning teams and recorded its best season in 2017 when it advanced to the C-Class. championship game. Barber also led Holy Trinity through the most difficult moment of the program, when the field house on the grounds of the Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons was destroyed in a fire, days before Holy Trinity played in its first-ever playoff game.
We didn’t just lose a coach, Moran said. Troy gets someone special. . . . Johns a great person. He treats each child as his own child. I couldn’t have asked for more from a coach. He will be missed.
During its prime, Holy Trinity’s roster numbered nearly 50 players. Barber said it was very unfortunate that the program could not go ahead.
My biggest regret is that we couldn’t keep up with the program, said Barber.
Before leading the Holy Trinity program, Barber coached at Castleton State, RPI, Hudson Valley Community College, and Schuylerville High School. At Troy, Barber said some of Burns’ coaching staff will remain in place; of Holy Trinity coaching staff, Barber said he brought Will Headen and Colton Barber, who served as defensive and offensive coordinators respectively, to Troy.
Troy finished undefeated last season, finishing the season with a 50-3 win against Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake in the Section II Class A Championship game. After getting a large number of seniors off that team, John Barber said there will be a rebuilding process at all levels of the Flying Horses program.
But definitely be very competitive this year with the kids out there, Barber said.
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