NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - Joe Carollo was happy just being at Verona High School as the football team's defensive coordinator.
But when the New Providence head coaching job opened up there was no hesitation on Carollo's part to go for one of the most cherished jobs in New Jersey high school sports. "It took a special program to make me leave Verona," said Carollo.
Carollo would only be the third head football coach in the program's history.
He takes over the job for Art Cattano who came in for one year after long-time coach Frank Bottone retired after collecting 334 victories in 46 seasons.
"You hope as a coach that you want to build a tradition," said Carollo about New Providence. "It's one of the programs that you want to emulate."
It was only two years ago that the Pioneers won their most recent state title, a 21-8 victory over Lincoln at the old Giants Stadium.
For New Providence Athletic Director Robert Harmer, Carollo's background in coaching all aspects of the game and coming from a quality program like Verona outweighed the fact that he was not a head coach in the past.
"We liked his experience and his dedication and passion for football," said Harmer. "He comes from a successful program."
In addition Harmer lauded Cattano for his work as head coach for 2011 that had the Pioneers finish with a 9-2 record and came a play away from another trip to a state championship. "He's done a fabulous job and has been a cornerstone of the football program for more than 30 years," said Harmer who added that Cattano had a tough task coaching both football and boys basketball this season. "Mr. Cattano stepped up to the plate and continued the fine tradition of New Providence football."
Harmer added that he does not know if Cattano will be on the New Providence football coaching staff this fall.
The new New Providence head coach was expected to meet this week with the players and he said that most of his staff will be from the previous coaching staffs at the school.
Carollo knows that the expectations are high for him with the program that has won eight state championships. "If anybody thinks that going 6-4 is acceptable then you probably should not have applied for the job," said Carollo who also coaches golf at Verona. "I'm blessed to have the opportunity to come here."
Carollo teaches AP U.S. History at Verona and is hoping to get a position at New Providence.
And the new head coach believes that there is a correlation between academics and football. "I think there is a great connection between the execution on the football field and as is the execution in the class," said Carollo.
Carollo had been a coordinator since 2004 and had been with the Hillbillies football program since 2002. He also was a varsity assistant at Wallington High School. Carollo played one year of college football.
In addition to Carollo taking over the coaching reins, Harmer announced that former head football coach Bottone will be one of the coaches for the North-South Football All-Star game in July at Kean University.