NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - A season delayed by a month and curtailed by 33 percent finally will get underway when the New Providence football team opens its 2020 campaign Friday night at home against Roselle Park.
Parents and fans will be allowed to attend, but strict capacity guidelines established by the school district in accordance with guidance from both the governor and the NJSIAA will be strictly adhered to.
The Pioneers will take the field with a team considerably younger than the one that finished the 2019 season with a 7-3 record after a thrilling Thanksgiving Day victory over Gov. Livingston. The two teams are schedule to continue their gridiron tradition with a Thanksgiving Eve game at Lieder Field, provided there are no interruptions or shutdowns and the season proceeds as scheduled after it was redone and scaled down.
The team's relative youth will place a great emphasis, offensively, on the wondrous ball carrying ability of rugged junior tailback Charlie Barth, who turned in a tremendous sophomore season with 1,510 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. He also happened to be the team's leading tackler at linebacker, as well.
"I believe we have a player in Charlie Barth who can take over a game at any time and be that big of an impact player on both sides of the ball," said New Providence's fourth-year head coach Chet Parlavecchio.
Junior Dean Licari will take over as the quarterback, replacing graduated Owen Kovacs at the position. Parlavecchio said Licari "has some big shoes to fill, but we believe he can do that and be a great QB for us. He should have a very good corps of receivers to get the ball to in Jake Wied, Timmy Walsh, Jack Gullo, Scott Nook and Chris Kowantz."
Licari will be operating behind an offensive line with just one returning starter, junior Anthony Kaspereen.
"Our offensive and defensive lines will be very young," the coach said, "but I believe we have a number of guys that can step up and do a great job. Kaspereen is our only returning starter up front from a year ago, and he can be a dominant player. Guys like Pat Vass (OL), Owen Forbes (OL), Charlie Palmer (OL) and Gavin Duffy(TE) can step up and do a great job for us."
Senior Sean Michaels will join Barth on defense at linebacker, and the two could very well lead the Pioneers in tackles this season.
"Defensively, I believe our strength can be our linebackers," Parlavecchio said. "We will have some good speed at that position, and they will be led by Michaels and Barth. We have a number of guys that will be competing for spots on our defense."
In a perfect world, a talented, but young team, would benefit from having a full nine- or 10-game season in which to gel. If all goes well in the world outside the gridiron, the Pioneers instead will have six games, plus a seventh or eighth depending on their post-season status.
"We have a great deal of good young players that are more than capable of stepping up for us," Parlavecchio said. "This season will be about improving every week. We want to take a day by day approach and work hard every day."
Key returning varsity players
Charlie Barth (Jr. RB/LB)
Anthony Kaspereen (Jr. OL/DL)
Jake Wied (Sr. WR/DB)
Timmy Walsh (Sr. WR/LB)
Sean Michaels (Sr. RB/LB)
Gavin Duffy (Sr. TE/LB)
Dean Licari (Jr. QB/DB)
Pat Vass (Jr. OL/DL)
Owen Forbes (Jr. OL/DL)
Trevor Davidson (TE/LB)
Jack Gullo (Sr. WR/DB)
Charlie Palmer (Sr. OL/DL)
Scott Nook (WR/DB)
The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham. Joe is a 25 year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market. Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-868-4800.