NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Defensive linemen don’t show up on the scoring summary of a football box score very often. On Friday night, New Providence offensive/defensive lineman Mimmo Coppola shocked Lieder Field when he returned an interception for a touchdown on the first play of the game.
For his efforts in leading the Pioneers to a 51-0 victory over Jonathan Dayton, The Alternative Press of New Providence has named Coppola the Athlete of the Week.
“It was incredible,” Coppola said of his touchdown. “We always talk about momentum and how to shift it our way. I don’t think there’s any better way to get it shifted like that. They get the ball and we take it straight from them. From a personal stand point, I’ve never scored a touchdown before in my life. It felt great, kept me going the rest of the game.”
Aside from scoring his first career touchdown, Coppola has anchored an offensive line that has helped the Pioneers to average 40 points scored per game and a defensive unit that is surrendering only a touchdown per game.
Junior quarterback Jack Harvey, who is tied for the team lead with seven touchdowns, including three on the ground, said the team “goes” when Coppola does.
“Mimmo is a great kid,” Harvey said. “He can bring us up when we’re down. He can make plays. He can make tackles. He can do anything that we need.”
New Providence’s second-year head coach Joe Carollo has relied on Coppola and the rest of his senior class to drive his team in the direction of perfection. He said Coppola has done an excellent job of leading the team.
“[Coppola] set the tone,” Carollo said. “It shouldn’t shock us. Him and our senior class have set the tone all year. Set the tone for the game. They put the work in. This is what happens when work and preparation meet, you get a performance like this.”
Aside from being a two-way player on the gridiron, Coppola is a contributor for the boys’ lacrosse team.
After he graduates in the spring, Coppola will head to Fairfield University in Connecticut to study business. While he won’t be competing for one of Fairfield’s NCAA Division I teams, he said you will be able to find him on the intramural field
“I’m just there, hanging out, maybe play some club sports,” Coppola said. “More importantly, getting a good education.”