This has been a wild offseason for high school football – in terms of coaching changes.
While there are usually several South Jersey football coaching changes each offseason, this year, they have involved some of the biggest names in history.
None were bigger than at Paulsboro where one of the best players in South Jersey history is replacing one of South Jersey’s top coaches.
Shortly after the season Paulsboro coaching legend Glenn Howard announced his resignation. Once a professional player as a linebacker for the Philadelphia-Baltimore Stars of the USFL, Howard was head coach at his alma mater for 35 years.
He compiled a 316-70 record and guided the Red Raiders to 14 South Jersey Group 1 championships.
Howard, a 1977 graduate of Paulsboro, also retired in June as a middle school science teacher.
“I felt it was just time,” Howard said.
Replacing Howard is Kevin Harvey, arguably among the best players in South Jersey history.
“He is the best I have ever seen, still to this day,” Howard said.
Harvey was Howard’s starting quarterback at Paulsboro and was part of the longest winning streak in South Jersey and state history.
According to local historian Chuck Langerman, Paulsboro won 63 consecutive games, ending the streak in 1998.
During that streak, Paulsboro went undefeated in five consecutive seasons. The Red Raiders were 11-0 from 1993 through 1997.
Paulsboro also compiled a 37-game win streak under Howard that ended in 2003. Included in that streak were three unbeaten seasons – 11-0 in 2000, 12-0 in 2001 and 12-0 in 2002.
Harvey will now look to continue the incredible success of Paulsboro’s football program that has lasted for most of the past four and a half decades.
A 1996 graduate, Harvey still holds the South Jersey career scoring record of 656 points according to Langerman. His 101 career touchdowns is second to Jada Byers of St. Joseph, a 2020 graduate who had 102.
More impressively, Paulsboro was 43-1 during Harvey’s career.
He was an assistant at Paulsboro for the past 14 years, specializing in working with the quarterbacks.
“It’s an honor to represent my school, represent my town and you know, God is good,” Harvey said.
Harvey joins a Paulsboro program that has been a big winner for more than five decades. The Red Raiders have earned 19 South Jersey championships since the advent of NJSIAA playoffs in 1976.
“Hopefully I can keep it going,” Harvey said. “I just want to make sure I am doing the right stuff to put us in a good position.”
Harvey certainly paid his dues, working so long as an assistant under Howard.
No coach could ask ask for a better mentor than Howard. Over the years, Paulsboro’s program has had plenty of outstanding athletes, but the work ethic under Howard was second to none.
Long practices were the norm and Howard had his team prepared each and every week.
“We worked the kids hard, but I think they respected that and knew that is what they signed up for and they knew that we had high expectations,” Howard said.. “We always would tell them we would not be outworked.”
And in most instances, they would not be outplayed.
It’s hard to see Howard staying away from the field in the fall. He admitted that he would be attending football games throughout the area.
In the beginning Howard never envisioned being in coaching so long.
After the USFL folded he went to training camp with the New York Jets in 1985 but failed his physical due to having bone chips in his knee. His playing career was over.
In 1986 he was hired as a volunteer assistant coach under Gerry Taraschi. Paulsboro went 10-1 that season.
After that season Taraschi joined former Paulsboro head coach Tom Brown at Washington Township, serving as Brown’s defensive coordinator.
Howard was hired to be Paulsboro’s head coach by legendary athletic director Bob Frederick.
“When he (Taraschi) left Mr. Frederick offered me the head coaching job,” Howard said. “I was one year out of playing with the Stars, 27-years old and didn’t know if I wanted to do it. I never had a dream of being a coach, being a teacher.”
Howard looked for some spiritual guidance.
“I prayed about it and talked to my family talked to my mother and sister and the Lord let me accept the job and 35 years later here I am.,” he said.
He said being part of the 63-game win streak was one of the highlights of his tenure.
“It was a fantastic accomplishment and I can’t say enough about those kids on those teams,” he said. “They did something that is still standing. It was fantastic with a lot of fantastic kids who made the commitment and sacrifice, they put in a lot of hard work and brought their lunch pail to work.”
Howard is first to admit that he was blessed to have so many talented players, but the work ethic he instilled was every bit as much a part of all the championship teams.
“We worked the kids hard, but I think they respected and knew that is what they signed up for,” Howard said. “We would tell them, ‘other teams are eating dinner and you are still getting your conditioning in’ and we used is as a psychological edge.”
Howard admits that he will miss coaching but feels good about having Harvey take over. Now it is Harvey’s chance to carry the torch in hopes of keeping the winning tradition going at one of South Jersey’s all-time best programs.