Donovan Catholic has hired Tom Tarver as its next head football coach, athletic director Joe Gomulka told Shore Sports Network on Tuesday.

The hiring was announced to Donovan Catholic's players on Wednesday morning.

Tarver replaces Dan Duddy, who resigned on November 24 after 10 seasons as the Griffins' head coach. Currently an assistant principal at Christa McAuliffe Middle School in Jackson, Tarver was previously the head coach at Manalapan from 2000 through 2003 where he went 21-21. He led the Braves to their first sectional final in 2003, which included a stunning upset of Brick, was was the No. 1 team in the Shore with the top-ranked offense and defense, in the first round of the Central Jersey Group IV playoffs.

"There was an opportunity I saw at Donovan, and the more I thought about it the more excited I got," Tarver said. "Getting back into the Shore Conference and the feeling of getting back to running a program, it was just too attractive a position to ignore."

"We've elevated our program to a good place, and we didn't want to lose that momentum," Gomulka said. "We were looking for that person who could move us forward and Tom had all the right answers for us."

At most schools administrators are not permitted to coach, but Tarver's position as an administrator in Jackson did not effect the hiring process for either Jackson or Donovan Catholic.

"Nothing would be really effected here that would prevent me from doing my job as an administrator," Tarver said. "So, it made a lot of sense for me to take a look at the Donovan Catholic program."

What made Tarver such an appealing choice for Gomulka was his desire to get back on the field as a coach after 12 seasons away from the game.

"He has a burning passion for football. It's not out of his soul, and that's a good thing," Gomulka said. "Different coaches come for different reasons, and his is purely for the love of football."

As an administrator for over 10 years, Tarver's attention to academics also made the decision easy for Gomulka.

"He is big on the educational piece of the academic athlete," Gomulka said. "He not only wants to be good in football, but to excel in academics."

Tarver was a star quarterback for Jackson Memorial as a three-year starter during the 1984-1986 seasons. He went 32-7 as a starer for the Jaguars, including leading Jackson to an 8-1 record and the No. 1 ranking in the Shore Conference in 1985. He was a first-team All-Ocean County and first-team All-Shore selection in both his junior and senior seasons, and also earned second-team All-State honors in each season.

Tarver was a scholarship player at Rutgers where he was a two-year starter. He was named the Scarlet Knights' starting quarterback in 1990, and finished his career with 3,607 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Tarver's hiring fills the last open head-coaching position in the Shore Conference.


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