Casa Grande football head coach Jake Barro is a member of the family that owns the popular pizza restaurant with locations in Arizona and California. The logo for the restaurant includes: A Family Tradition.
But pizza is not the only family tradition in the Barro family, as Jake followed the footsteps of his grandfather Angelo, who was a high school football coach in suburban Chicago for nearly 20 years.
“I think I knew I wanted to be a football coach when I six years old,” Jake told Sports360AZ.com. “I grew up with my grandfather having done it his whole life. That was his big passion.
The Casa Grande football program has changed direction and flourished under Barro’s leadership. The Cougars finished 2–8 in each of the three seasons before Barro’s arrival in 2015, when the team finished 9–2 and had its first winning record in nine seasons, including a perfect 5–0 on the way to sectional title.
The Cougars, who experienced more than their fair share of injuries to key players in 2016, followed the 2015 season with a 6–4 record, which marked back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in a decade.
“I like to think we’re building a program here in Casa Grande,” Jake said to Sports360AZ.com during one of the Cougars’ spring practices. “One of the biggest challenges when I got down here, absolutely, was getting the kids to believe that they were an elite program, that they could compete, that they could play with all the teams in the Valley.”
Excited about how our hard our guys are working this offseason! Lots of good young talent!
— Jake Barro (@CoachBarro) February 19, 2017
Jake’s father Ken and his brother Josh serve as assistant coaches on the Cougars’ staff. Ken, who played for his father Angelo, sees similarities on the field between his dad and son.
“Same fiery attitude, same attention to detail,” Ken recalled. “(Jake) learned from (my dad) that’s for sure.”
“Some of the mannerisms are the same, the way he’ll stalk the sideline,” Ken added. “But most of it is a little more subtle, most of it is in the X’s and O’s and the way he schemes a game and things like that.”
Are you drooling yet? pic.twitter.com/HyVHzwreDP
— Barro’s Pizza (@barrospizza) May 26, 2017
Angelo Barro started the family business in Chicago to supplement his teaching and coaching salary. He eventually left coaching to focus exclusively on the family business before moving to California then Arizona and opening restaurants in both states. But the lure of coaching was too strong, and Angelo returned to coaching at Corona del Sol and Marcos de Niza.
A young Jake Barro was paying attention.
“I grew up with guys like Coach Parker and Coach Venturo hanging around the house,” Jake said. “That was my childhood. Six years old, going into kindergarten, I knew what I wanted to do and I haven’t veered off that since.”
Like any family, there is always some give and take with the Barro’s, especially among the trio that share the Casa Grande sidelines. But in the end, it’s family first.
“Every night, after practice, we go out to eat or go out and do something and we’re arguing or talking about football,” Josh Barro said. “We’re constantly bickering but usually we get to the same place, where we’re all agreeing.”
“We always work it out in the end,” Jake added. “I’m fortunate to have (my dad and brother). Most guys don’t get to coach with their family and I’m extremely fortunate to have that experience.”