Jon Cantagallo-Rohm, who has served as an assistant the last three seasons, confirmed on Wednesday that he has been offered and has accepted the head coaching position. The hiring is expected to become official at the next Board of Education meeting on Nov. 17.
The move to Cantagallo-Rohm comes just days after former coach Steve Gibble was suspended with pay for undisclosed reasons during Monday night's Board of Education meeting by an 8-1 vote.
Cantagallo-Rohm, who is a Health and Physical Education teacher at Central, had been rumored to be the leading candidate for the job. As an assistant, he was known for his strategic handling of lineups and matchups, and he credits Gibble for being an excellent mentor.
"I learned a lot from the times I spent with him," said Cantagallo Rohm, who along with Gibble, would conduct early-morning workouts at the school during the season. "A lot that I can use as a coach moving forward. I enjoyed coaching with him."
Cantagallo-Rohm becomes the third head coach in Hunterdon Central's history -- following Russ Riegel, who started the program in 1957 and Gibble, who guided the Red Devils for the past 22 seasons.
Gibble's teams compiled a 348-119 overall record and captured four Skyland Conference titles, in addition to winning 11 of the program's 19 sectional championships. Central also reached the Group 4 final seven times (1993, '94, '95, '99, 2000, 2003 and 2010) under Gibble. Riegel's teams went 1-4 in Group 4 finals, winning the program's only title in 1989.
This past season, Central went 19-6 and dropped a 55-9 decision to Phillipsburg in the North 2, Group 4 final.
Cantagallo-Rohm, 38, who lives in Phillipsburg and whose father-in-law was late Stateliners football coach Phil Rohm, originally hails from South Jersey. He wrestled for Burlington Township in the early 1990s -- placing third in District 26 at 125 pounds in 1994 -- before continuing on at Upsala College and West Virginia University.
A former head coach in Western Pennsylvania, Cantagallo-Rohm moved on to North Warren, where he served on Matt Parzero's staff for one season before accepting a teaching position at Hunterdon Central.
Cantagallo-Rohm is hoping that his hiring will help bring some stability to Central in light of the recent events and with the season starting in late November.
"I'm hoping we can continue the continuity and familiarity. The kids know what we're capable of and he direction the program wants to go," he said.
Cantagallo-Rohm said that he is in search of two assistant coaches, as Ken Garay has also opted to leave the program. Longtime assistant Leigh Hall will remain on the staff.