EAST HANOVER, N.J.-When Hanover Park's 2018 high school football season gets underway, Gerry Moore will be on the sidelines. He just won't be the man in charge of the Hornets.
Moore recently resigned as head coach, a position he had held at the school since 2010. He will remain as an assistant. The school is searching for a new head coach.
"I'm stepping away to coach my kids," Moore said, referring to 10-year-old Colin, who plays football, basketball and lacrosse, and nine-year-old Emma, who plays soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. "I will be staying on as an assistant coach at Hanover Park. Hopefully I can be a head coach again some time."
Moore coached the Hornets to a 50-32 record since replacing Dan Gregory in 2010. He guided the Hornets to the playoffs in each of the last six seasons, including back-to-back semifinal appearances in 2015 and 2016. He was also the head coach at Parsippany from 2003-2006.
His decision to leave was met with surprise -- and some sadness.
"To be honest, Coach Moore announcing that he was stepping down choked me up a little bit, he means everything to me," former Hanover Park standout Eric Magnifico said from Towson State, where he is a tight end. "He means more to me than just a coach. He treated me and all of his players like his own son."
"He's a great coach and a great guy," Hanover Park senior Sean Conley added. "He's made a big impact on my life and in the lives of the other guys on the team. He's a fun guy to be around and the program has been successful every year he's been here."
Two seasons ago, Magnifico was a standout player on the 2016 Hanover Park team that might have been Moore's best. The team reached the North 2, Group II semifinals before losing to eventual champion Madison by a single point after Hanover Park missed the two-point conversion in the game's closing moments.
When it came to selecting a college, Magnifico turned to Moore for help and the coach provided it.
"He helped me through the whole college process," Magnifico said. "He was always on me for my academics. He wants the best for all of his players. I wouldn't have wanted to play for anyone else in high school. He holds a great place in my heart. He still keeps in touch, which shows you what kind of guy he is. He is always reaching out."
It was Moore reaching out to many different college coaches in many different ways that helped Magnifico arrive at his decision to play at Towson State. He was also recruited by Rutgers as a preferred walk-on as well as Lehigh.
"I was unsure of what to do, but Coach Moore was a big help to me," he said. "He would say, 'I emailed so-and-so,' or 'I just texted so-and-so,' or 'I sent so-and-so your highlight videos.' He was always reaching out to college coaches for me, going far and beyond for me. He made it all possible."
"Gerry Moore was an outstanding head coach," Hanover Park Athletic Director Mike Menditto added. "He ran a great program and spent countless hours preparing our student athletes. He will be missed here at Hanover Park and I thank him for his service and dedication to our program."
More made himself available to his players on the field and off.
"His door was always open," Conley said. "He helps you with whatever you need, whether it is to help with finding a college or if you just want to talk. He is always in the weight room or in his office and always thinking football, which is why he was so succesful."
When Magnifico arrived at Hanover Park as a freshman, he felt a little uneasy in his new surroundings but Moore made the kid feel right at home.
"As a freshman, it's like when I came here to Towson ... I didn't know what to expect," he said. "But with Coach Moore, it was easy to build a relationship with him. He opened his heart to all of us. Any player will tell you the same thing. He's not only a great coach but he was great at building personal relationships on and off the field. He's not just into football but life and academics. He always took the time out for us.
"His own kids are lucky to have a father like that. He took a lot of time away from his own family to help us out."