NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The 2012 Pioneer football season ended in disaster at Roselle Park High School last November. What would have been a game-tying extra point in the final two minutes for New Providence was quickly turned into a failed two-point conversion and elimination from the state tournament.
Coming into this season, the Pioneers loss to the Panthers still left an unpleasant taste in the mouths of the team. When the team walks onto the Roselle Park High School football field on Friday night, they think there’s some unfinished business.
“It still hangs over from last year,” senior wide receiver Bryan Sherman said before the season. “We thought we could have beat them. We lost to them twice actually. We’re going to have a little more fire this year when we play them. Everyone is really excited to play them, get some revenge for last year.”
While the biggest game between the Pioneers and Panthers occurred in the state playoffs, Roselle Park had New Providence’s number earlier in the year, winning an early November battle 35-28 at Lieder Field.
It was the Pioneers’ second loss of the season, a defeat that forced New Providence to play at Roselle Park in the second round of the state tournament.
Even though New Providence did not reach their yearly goal of a state championship, running back/linebacker CJ Kleisch said the team’s goals remain the same and that Roselle Park is just a small roadblock.
“Like always, we’re expected to go to a championship and win it,” Kleisch said.
New Providence head coach Joe Carollo, who ultimately made the decision to go for the two-point conversion last year, said before the season the Pioneers can’t circle any dates, because each game is as important as the next.
“When you’re the marked man, every game matters,” the Pioneers’ second year coach said. “That’s the mentality we try not to promote. Our season right now is one game at a time. We don’t look ahead because then you get caught.”
As the final preparation for this year’s regular season finale with the Panthers is almost complete, some might ask Carollo if he regrets his decision to go for two, instead of the extra point. His response is the same now as it was on the field last November.
“We play to win here,” he said. “There’s never any regret about playing to win. That’s what we do here. Is every decision right? Of course not…If given the choice and they go off sides and give us a yard and half, we’ll do the same thing. Its unfortunate [that play] went that way.”
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Roselle Park High School. If the Pioneers win, they will host at least one state game, beginning next Friday night.