The greatest of all time
Matthew Stanmyre NJ Advance Media
1. Bob Hurley, St. Anthony (boys basketball)
In 45 years as coach at St. Anthony, Hurley led the tiny Catholic school tucked in the shadows of Jersey City to 28 state championships, 13 Tournament of Champions titles, eight undefeated seasons, four national championships and 1,184 wins, establishing an unmatched legacy in New Jersey high school sports. In addition, more than 200 of Hurley’s players went on to play in college and several made it to the NBA. In 2010, he was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame. His career may have kept going, except St. Anthony, after years of struggling, shuttered in 2017 amid financial constraints.
2. Danyle Heilig, Eastern Regional (field hockey)*
Eastern has won a staggering 20 consecutive state championships, one for each season that Heilig has been coach. In addition, the Vikings have won eight of the 13 Tournament of Champions titles since the game’s inception in 2006. What’s more, Heilig steered Eastern to a national-record 153 straight games without a loss. All told, Heilig is 490-12-6 at Eastern, averaging less than one loss per season, and 13 times her teams have finished the year unbeaten.
3. Tom Heath, Christian Brothers Academy (cross-country)
Heath, who retired in 2015, won a jaw-dropping and state-record 21 cross-country Meet of Champions titles and set a national record with 343 straight dual-meet victories during his insanely successful career at CBA. He also led the school to 27 state championships, and his teams went 42 years without losing a dual meet — 42 years. His cross-country teams also finished No. 1 in New Jersey 21 times.
4. Greg Toal, Don Bosco (football)
In 33 years as a head coach, Toal went 305-55-2 to go along with a mind-boggling 16 state sectional championships — a stretch that included winning state titles at three different schools. Perhaps most impressive, Toal also won two national championships at Don Bosco Prep — a once-unthinkable accomplishment for a New Jersey or East Coast school. Toal also is credited with changing the face of high school football by starting the trend of playing out-of-state opponents on the national stage. After 18 years at Don Bosco, Toal was forced out in 2017 and currently serves as an assistant coach at Bergen Catholic.
5. Ernest Blood, Passaic (boys basketball)
One of the first true legends of New Jersey sports, “Professor” Blood led Passaic to an almost-unimaginable 200-1 record between 1915 and 1924. In the process, his so-called “Wonder Teams” won 159 games in a row, a national record for the longest winning streak that still stands today. He later spent 25 years at St. Benedict’s Prep, winning 421 more games and five state titles to finish his career with 621 victories. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 1960.
6. Maria Nolan, Immaculate Heart (girls volleyball)*
Between Secaucus and Immaculate Heart Academy, Nolan has won a staggering 28 state championships and racked up 1,006 victories — tops in New Jersey.
She’s also won 12 consecutive state titles and nine overall Tournament of Champions crowns, establishing a legacy as one of the most dominant coaches in state history.
7. Deanna Knobloch, Moorestown (girls lacrosse)
In 27 years at Moorestown, Knobloch has led the Quakers to a staggering 19 Tournament of Champions titles, including 10 in a row from 2000 to 2009. The Quakers have twice finished the season ranked No. 1 nationally, they won 82 games in a row between 2000 and 2003, and they triumphed in 228 straight games against New Jersey teams from 2000 to 2010. Knobloch resigned in October 2018 with an eye-popping career record of 557-44-4.
8. Paul Morina, Paulsboro (wrestling)*
With a career record of 679-42-4 that includes a gaudy .940 winning percentage, Morina is the all-time winningest wrestling coach in South Jersey history and one of the most respected coaches in the nation. Under Morina, Paulsboro has won 30 sectional titles, 27 state championships and 14 individual state championships. In 2018, Paulsboro finished with a 21-0 record and another state title.
9. Nancy Williams, Shore Regional (field hockey, softball)
Williams retired in 2014 as the nation’s all-time leader in field hockey wins with 839 — an incredible stat she compiled over 44 years as coach at Shore Regional.
She also won 43 consecutive division titles, 19 Shore Conference Tournament championships and 13 state crowns during her illustrious tenure. In addition, Williams notched 521 wins over 29 years as softball coach at the school. In 1995, she filed a complaint to the federal Department of Education, arguing her school was in violation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, becoming a women’s sports pioneer.
10. Vanessa Watson, Shabazz (girls basketball)
Watson retired from high school coaching in 2014 with 720 career victories, 10 state championships and six Tournament of Champions titles over 31 years. Even more, she built a national juggernaut at an inner-city school in Newark’s South Ward and fielded a team that many years was better than every elite private school in the state.
See the rest of our list of the 99 all-time greatest New Jersey high school coaches. Page C5
St. Anthony’s Bob Hurley is the greatest scholastic coach in New Jersey history. NJAM file