NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Prior to the season, New Providence head coach Joe Carollo said senior running back C.J. Kliesch “better be” the motivator for the Pioneers.
In the final opening nights of his high school career, Kliesch exploded for three touchdowns to lead the Pioneers to a 34-14 win over Brearley at Lieder Field.
“Our kids showed heart today,” Carollo said. “It was the first game, at times it was definitely a little sloppy. We’re very happy with their response in the second half. We challenged our kids to respond and they did.”
Over the span of two nights, the Pioneers ran away with the win, rushing for a combined 334 yards.
Junior quarterback Jack Harvey led the team with 145 yards on the ground.
The Pioneers led early on Thursday, when junior running back Ibn Nash scored on a 52-yard run.
Soon after the touchdown, lightning caused the game to be postponed to Friday afternoon.
After the restart, Kliesch took over, scoring three rushing touchdowns to keep Brearley at a comfortable distance. However, as big of a day that he had on the offensive side of the ball, it was the senior running back/linebacker’s leadership on defense that put the Pioneers on top.
With the Bears threatening to tie the game near halftime, Kliesch and his defensive counterparts held the Bears out of the end zone to protect the lead.
After the break, the Pioneers scored 20 unanswered points to go ahead 34-6, putting the game out of reach.
“We have great offensive players and a great offensive coach,” Carollo said. “We’re very pleased with that. It wasn’t just a one person effort when you look at the stat sheet. That’s what we’re about. Its not about one person.”
Kliesch scored from one yard out on New Providence’s first drive of the half. Then on their next possession, he went untouched for a 50-yard score.
In the fourth, Harvey connected with senior wide receiver Jeff Doran for a 13-yard passing touchdown that ended any chance of a Brearley comeback.
However, the victory did come with some consequence. In the fourth quarter, Kliesch was removed from the game with an apparent lower leg injury.
“They got a gut-check and they responded to the gut-check,” Carollo said. “A lot of that is a testament to our seniors. At least for today we’re pleased, but we have a lot of work to do.”
The Pioneers will play at Belvidere next Friday night. Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.