#Dennis Barrett, legendary NYC high school football coach, dead at 77

#Dennis Barrett, legendary NYC high school football coach, dead at 77

June 10, 2020 | 2:20pm | Updated June 10, 2020 | 2:45pm

Dennis Barrett, one of the winningest high school football coaches in New York City history who inspired his Monsignor Farrell players to literally run through walls for him, died Monday at the age of 77.

The 5-foot-5 New Rochelle native was towering in his influence, first at Farrell in Staten Island — where his teams won 33 consecutive games and once gave up six points in an entire season — and then at the US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, Long Island, where he revived a failing program to win three conference championships as head coach.

Barrett was a legendary motivator, who often said his players needed to know he loved them. After one fiery halftime speech in 1970, Parade All-American linebacker John D’Amato ran from the locker room through a closed glass door, shattering it on his way to the field.

At Farrell, an 1,100-student school in Oakwood known for its rigorous academics, coach Barrett built a dominant CHSFL program and a national reputation. His career record from 1967-1980 was an astonishing 103-13-6. Six times he led the Lions to undefeated seasons.

In 1977, Barrett took his team to Cincinnati — where he had played collegiate ball until being sidelined by a back injury — to play Gerry Faust-coached Moeller Catholic, the No. 1-ranked team in the country. The game attracted 24,000 fans to Nippert Stadium — and a reporter from Sports Illustrated.

Farrell lost 30-0.

“The results did not shock Barrett,” the magazine reported. “He once played a little quarterback at the University of Cincinnati and was well aware of the caliber of Ohio high school football. ‘Look, even if we lose, the trip will have been an experience,’ he said the evening before the game. ‘Good for the program, good for the kids. Heck, a lot of them have never been on a plane.’ “

Two years later he led the Lions to a victory over PSAL champion Bayside HS in the second Metro Bowl, a now-defunct game that used to crown the best football team in the city.

By then, the biggest college coaches in the country had taken notice of Barrett and his boys. Ohio State’s Woody Hayes and Michigan’s Bo Schembechler stopped in Oakwood, and national champion LSU coach Paul Dietzel kicked up a fuss when he dropped in by helicopter, recalled Staten Island Advance sportswriter Jay Price.

Soon Barrett himself was being recruited, and in 1981 joined Kings Point. He inherited a losing team, but by the time he retired 10 years later, had led the Mariners to a national ranking in Division III.

His impact is lasting. Barrett’s coaching tree includes former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, ex-Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle, and Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo.

At his 70th birthday party, 300 former players showed up to honor Barrett, the son of a cop who grew up in public housing.

Coyle, who played for Barrett at Farrell and coached for him at Kings Point, gave the keynote:

“The most impactful coach I’ve ever been around,” Coyle said, according to an Advance report. “He had a very rare ability to motivate, to get the best out of every player.”

As the room filled with his former players, Barrett said, “The first thing I feel is so much love. I also feel so blessed that I’ve had them in my life.”


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