By Jean DePlacido
---- — Mike Barbati, head assistant coach for the St. John’s Prep football team, was honored by the Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association at the Hall of Fame banquet which was held at Lantana’s in Randolph yesterday afternoon. Barbati has been with head coach Jim O’Leary for 22 years and prior to that worked under his father, John, in Watertown.
“I’ve been coaching for 30 years,” said Barbati, a teacher in Everett. “During that time I’ve had the privilege of working two outstanding coaches my dad (John), who is in the Hall of Fame, and Jim O’Leary, who I know will be there one day. I was lucky to learn from the best.”
“Teaching in Everett means I am sometimes late getting to practice if I have a meeting after school. I’ve been so fortunate that Jim has always been very flexible about that. I know it would not have worked in some other school systems. He has made it very rewarding for me.”
Barbati, who takes charge of the defensive side of things, said he enjoys working with the student-athletes at the Prep.
“The kids are great, and the guys I work with are great,” he said. “It’s so nice to be in a fraternity, a brotherhood. Those guys are not only fellow coaches but also my friends. I am honored to be selected.”
O’Leary said Barbati’s award is well deserved. He has been a member of the Prep staff since 1991. During that span the Eagles went to the Super Bowl five times and won twice including last December when they beat Brockton.
“We’ve been together a long time, and it’s nice to see Michael recognized,” said O’Leary, who attended the banquet with other members of the coaching staff. “Steve Hayden (Pentucket) is one of the ones going into the Hall of Fame this year, and I coached with him at UNH. Ed Nizwantowski (former rival at Peabody High) is also being recognized.”
Salem News sports editor Phil Stacey received the MHSFCA media award for his outstanding coverage of high school football.