John Liberato, head coach of Summit Football since the 2007 season, is stepping down from his position, according to a report in The Star-Ledger.
While Liberato could not be immediately reached for comment Tuesday night, he told The Star-Ledger that he will still remain a Physical Education Teacher at Summit High School and said "it's just the right time" to retire as head coach of the Hilltopper football team.
“It’s not really that big of a thing. I’ve been the head coach for 25 years, whether it was football, wrestling, winter track or spring track," Liberato told The Star-Ledger on Tuesday. "Summit’s an awesome place; there’s no better high school to work in than Summit High School. I’m very thankful for the opportunity I had here.”
Liberato led the Hilltopper Football Team to another state sectional championship in early December of 2012, shutting out Palisades Park 30-0 on Saturday, Dec. 8 at MetLife Stadium. The team made it to a state sectional final in 2009, defeating Orange 28-19.
Liberato, who has been at the helm for the Hilltoppers since the 2007 season, led his teams to the playoffs every season since 2008.
After his team's successful 2009 season and state sectional title, Liberato was given the New York Giants Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Year Award, a prestigious honor that covers the states of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. Liberato's award was announced at the Giants-Eagles game in December of 2009 at Giants Stadium.
Liberato's first head coaching job was at Howell before he moved on to Parsippany, where he spent six years as the wrestling coach and as an assistant football coach, according to the 2009 article. He got back into head coaching at Hanover Park, where he spent eight seasons, before heading back to New Providence.
Under his former head coach in New Providence, the legendary Frank Bottone, Liberato kicked off his coaching career in 2003 by winning a state championship as Bottone's assistant coach, according to a Summit Patch article from 2009.
Liberato left his assistant coaching job at New Providence High School, his alma mater, after the 2006 season to take over the reins of the Hilltoppers football team, according to the 2009 article. Liberato's two sons both played football at Summit.
Liberato instilled two simple core values in his team year in and year out.
“Pride and discipline,” Liberato told Patch in 2011. “We want our kids to be proud of who they are and where they come from. The discipline comes in setting goals and having the persistency to go through with them.”
— Kelly Fenton and Rich Conforti contributed to this report.