BY MATTHEW MANGAM
After coaching football for 21 years, head football coach Anthony Lanzafama has retired from that position. Lanzafama started as an assistant head coach in 2000 and served as head coach from 2010-2021.
During Lanzafama’s coaching career, the Knights had a strong 11-1 record against rivals East Brunswick in the “Battle of Route 18.”
Lanzafama found tremendous success and finished with an overall record of 72-47-1 as head coach. Lanzafama’s achievements include coaching in the 2015 state finals at Rutgers, having an undefeated season in 2019, being crowned Red Division Champion four times, and reaching the state semi-finals three times.
Message from Anthony Lanzafama:
“As the head coach there is duty to honor and respect previous teams, players and coaches that sacrificed for this program, and uphold that tradition. We’ve always maintained that the program is the most important thing. This town, community and high school is special, and we were fortunate to coach special student-athletes from Old Bridge and uphold the strong football tradition that we inherited.
“Coaching is special because you can help instill confidence and teach life lessons that will give young men and women tools that will serve them later in life, Once you have those relationships, then team-bonding and team-building follow suit, making each season enjoyable. We would annually participate in SEPTA Field Day, setting up for Relay for Life, Read Across America and Elementary School Field Day. Watching our student athletes flourish in those environments was always very rewarding.”
Co-Head JV Coach 1998-2016 and Varsity Defensive Line Coach: “I enjoyed coaching with Coach Lanzafama very much. He was always very receptive to any input from his football staff and exuded class at all times. He is a true role model to his players in the sense that he practices what he preaches. He is always looking out for the best interest of his players. I consider myself very fortunate that I had the opportunity to coach with an individual as classy and professional as Anthony Lanzafama.”
Assistant Coach and Defensive Coordinator 2000-2017: “I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working with Coach Lanzafama for the past 16 years. To me, Coach has always exemplified the true meaning of character and has consistently been a positive role model for all his student athletes. He is a genuinely kind and caring man. Anthony Lanzafama has always been an extremely hardworking coach. For 12 years, he spent countless hours preparing game plans so his team was prepared for success against any opponent. His preparation, mixed with his way of motivating his players and fellow coaches, made everyone the best versions of themselves on and off the field. Most importantly he has shown his players how much he cares for them- this too was not just on the football field, but in the classroom and in their home lives as well. He has consistently taught his student athletes valuable life lessons that will make them successful adults in life.”
Assistant Coach 2003-2009 and Freshman Coach 2010-2011, 2017-2018: “I am obviously biased, but anyone who has ever had the privilege of coaching with or for my brother would say that he is the epitome of what it means to be a high school football coach. His work ethic, principled decision-making, collaborative spirit, and selfless character make him a role model for his players as well as his colleagues. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to coach with him for so many years. His former players recognize how much my brother cares and that they can count on him for the rest of their lives. And even though Coach Lanzafama is stepping down after 12 successful seasons, he will always be “Coach” to every single one of his former players.”
Assistant Coach 2005-2013: “Integrity personified. Trust, Character, Sacrifice (T.C.S.) isn’t just a quote that Coach Lanzafama uses with his team, he embodies it on a daily basis. I had the pleasure of coaching and working with Anthony for nine years. You won’t see a better prepared, more organized, and determined coach than him. I’d like to say that much of my coaching style over the years has been patterned off of how Coach Lanzafama coaches. He is more than just OB Football; he’s an outstanding teacher and, more importantly, a loyal and true family man. The impact he’s had on Old Bridge is immeasurable and will continue to be so. I wish him nothing but the absolute best.”
Volunteer Assistant Coach 2011-2012 and Freshman Head Coach 2013- present: “Coach Lanzafama demands hard work and enthusiasm from his players, but more importantly he models it. Not only was he successful on the field, but he has represented the High School, the District and the town with sportsmanship and class.”
Special Teams Coordinator 2010-2015 and Coach’s First Assistant 2015-present: “Coach Lanzafama is everything you want in a head coach. He modeled Trust, Character and Sacrifice in everything he did. It’s hard to imagine a Friday night without Coach Lanzafama on the sideline. He is Old Bridge Football and has brought this program to a special level. I think I speak for all the members of the Old Bridge Football program when I say we are very sad to see him go but are happy for him and so thankful for everything he has brought to the program. I know his goal was to always leave the team in a better place than it was before while making everyone a better person and there is no doubt, he did that. Coach is a very special person and everyone at OBHS is lucky enough to share the hallways with him.”
Assistant Coach 2011-present and Defensive Coordinator 2017-present: “Coach Lanzafama is one of the most hard working and motivated coaches I have seen in my life. He is someone who leads by example and shows the upmost respect towards everyone. He has been a mentor to me and a lot of other coaches in this district. He is one of my close friends who I could never thank enough for everything he has done for me. He changed the culture and the identity of this program. He was always honest, and upfront with all of his players. He truly cared about his players and always looked out for them.”
2014 JV Defensive Coordinator, 2015 Varsity Outside Linebackers Coach, 2016-present Varsity Offensive and Defensive Line Coach: “Coach Lanzafama is an incredible man, mentor, and most importantly leader of young men. Other than family the most important thing to him is relationships, and over his 21-year coaching career, and 12 years at the helm of the football program he has created lifelong relationships and has inspired two generations of Old Bridge students what trust-character-sacrifice means, and the importance of approaching life with Focus-Attack-Relentless. You can count your success as a coach based on the success of those who have learned from you, and every student athlete who has had the pleasure of learning from Coach Lanzafama has graduated his program as a stronger and empowered man ready to bring a great attitude and incredible effort into everything they do.”
Director of Athletics 2016-Present: “I respect his decision and I’m happy for him and his next chapter of his life with his family. He set expectations for his players and his coaches. He set expectations for me. He didn’t just talk about it, he walked it. Whatever the expectations were for everybody, he lived up to them too and he pushed himself to be the best coach he could be on the field. Off the field for the community, as well, and there’s just a lot of respect I have for him, and I’ve learned a lot from him through the past six years as athletic director.”
JV, Freshman Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach 2016-present: “Coach Lanzafama will certainly be missed on the sideline by his players and coaches. No one was more prepared every week than him. But as good as a coach as he is, his leadership went well beyond just coaching football. Coach Lanzafama did a great job of not only teaching his players how to play the game of football, but he also tried to teach them how to be good people in the community.”
Volunteer Assistant Coach 2017-2019 and JV Coach 2019-present: “Coach Lanzafama was a great coach but an even better mentor to his student athletes. Coach Lanzafama always got the best out of his players and always had a direction he wanted his athletes to go but he wouldn’t give them the answers until the athletes figured it out themselves. Coach led by example by always being the first person to practice and last one to leave. He always gave his all on and off the field. Coach Lanzafama was someone you could always go to for guidance and he would always have an answer for you, if not he would find a way to help you. When I played sports under coach Lanzafama back in high school he was my favorite coach because he always pushed me to be the best player on the field and an even better student in the classroom. Coach Lanzafama was always there for coaches and players no matter what. Coach helped a lot of his players and coaches during difficult times. When I lost my father last summer coach Lanzafama was one of the first people to call me and be there for me. It’s going to be hard not seeing coaching throughout the summer and on the sideline on Friday nights.”
Varsity Team 2019-2022: “When coach Lanzafama retired I was shocked; no other coach will have an eight-year run like he did. Coach Lanzafama taught me how to win football games, and to always stay poised. He did his best to not only make us better players but to make us better men. There’s nobody who will love and who is committed to this program than him. Coach Lanzafama’s place will be hard to replace. Me and the guys appreciate everything he has done for us. He’s had an impact on our lives more than he will ever know.
Varsity Team 2020-2022: “Coach Lanzafama had a great impact on me throughout my four years in his program. The lessons he put into his coaching helped me grow into the football player I am and the type of man I want to be off the field. He put in so much time and hard work for the program and all the athletes. We couldn’t be more grateful to have had him as our coach. My teammates and I are happy for him, and we support his decision.”
Varsity Team 2020-2022: “Coach Lanzafama is the most caring coach I’ve ever had. Not just caring about me or my teammates. He cares about the school, about the program and bigger picture, the town of Old Bridge. His impact on me is something he instilled into us as freshman. In life you will have adversity, and with adversity you either lie down and let life get you down or you get up and face whatever is in your path. Coach Lanzafama will be missed not just by me; he will be missed by everyone he coached along with the town of Old Bridge.”
Posted on 2/8/22
Photos by Lors Photography