NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Ask any football coach how games are won and they will tell you all about the “battle in the trenches,” however rarely is it solely a lineman that leads a team to win.
On Friday night, New Providence defensive lineman Mimmo Coppola returned an interception for a touchdown on the first play of the game, leading the Pioneers to a 51-0 blowout victory over Jonathan Dayton at Lieder Field.
“It was incredible,” Coppola said. “We always talk about momentum and how to shift it our way. I don’t think there’s a any better way. They get the ball and we take it right from them. From a personal standpoint, I’ve never scored a touchdown before in my whole life. It felt great.”
The senior offensive/defensive lineman sparked a 24-point opening quarter for the Pioneers.
Senior running back CJ Kliesch ran 23 yards on NP’s first offensive possession.
Junior quarterback Jack Harvey took over the rest of the half, scoring three rushing touchdowns on the next three Pioneer drives, putting the game out of reach before halftime.
“In the first quarter we got down field so easily, it was like nothing,” Harvey said. “It helps to have a great line. It helps that we’re a great team no matter what.”
On the other side of the ball, the New Providence defense forced five “3-and-outs” in the first half, allowing only one first down over the opening 24 minutes. The unit as a whole has only allowed three scores over the first three games.
Head coach Joe Carollo said the team knew what to expect from Dayton’s offense.
“[Defensive coordinator] Coach [Andy] Silvagni does a great job,” Carollo said. “He works his rear end off to get those guys prepared. The kids listen to him. They followed the game plan.”
With the victory, the Pioneers improve to 3-0, outscoring their opponents 119-21 during the course of the season.
Despite the team’s success to open the year, Carollo doesn’t expect to see his team stop working hard.
“We understand that every week, we have to put in the work to keep getting better so that way we achieve the goals that this team has set forth,” Carollo said.
New Providence returns to action next Saturday when they visit Pingry. Kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.