September 12, 2013 at 5:00 AM
NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – There’s no question that the New Providence varsity football team has high hopes for the 2013 season.
After seeing their 2012 season end on a goal-line fumble in the state semifinal, second-year head coach Joe Carollo has instilled a winning mentality on a team that lost key contributors from last year.
“The coaches are taking it a lot harder on us,” senior lineman Mimmo Coppola said. “We are supposed to be perfect in every aspect of the game.”
Coppola leads a revamped offensive and defensive line that lost two key starters from last year’s squad.
Without the likes of longtime starter Nick Iannacone anchoring the line, Coppola expects the Pioneers to compete at a new level with the talent on display this year.
“We have to show the people who aren’t used to it or are first time starters to trust everything we know,” Coppola said. “The coaches know what they’re talking about. Have faith in us because we’ve been there before.”
While the offensive line will see new faces, what won’t change are the three players responsible for leading the Pioneers’ offense up and down the field. Both junior Jack Harvey and senior Bryan Sherman return as co-quarterbacks, with tailback C.J. Kliesch right behind them.
While Carolla won’t name a starting quarterback until before the game, he is confident that both players will be “huge pieces to the puzzle” throughout the year.
“There is a competition,” Carolla said. “There will continue to be a competition. We are very blessed. We have not two, but three very good quarterbacks in our program. If they had the ball, I feel very confident.”
There’s no telling who will start week-to-week at any of the major positions on either side of the ball, including quarterback. But because of the leadership the senior class has taken on so far this year, Carollo expects nothing less than a hard working team with the same common goal: winning.
“The good thing about a program like this is the senior class will leave, and make no mistake we lost a lot of talent, but there are a lot of guys waiting for their chance,” Carollo said. “Now is their chance. That next generation, its their chance. We have some kids who have never started before, but its their turn.”
With new faces on the field and old ones on the sideline, the expectations remain the same: this New Providence football team will accept nothing less than perfection.
“Like always, we’re expected to go to a championship and win it,,” Kliesch said.
The first step in the Pioneers’ journey to a state championship begins tonight (Thursday) against Brearley High School. Kickoff from Lieder Field is scheduled for 6 p.m.