BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ— The Gov. Livingston Highlanders shut out the New Providence Pioneers, 10-0, in the annual Thanksgiving Day Football Game between the two schools. The seniors were able to celebrate triumphantly on their senior day and last game in a GL uniform.
Since the beginning of the annual Thanksgiving game, the Pioneers have defeated the Highlanders for the majority of the rivalry and still hold a 27-5-2 advantage in the series.
Last year, however, Gov. Livingston defeated New Providence, making it a modest two-game winning streak.
Junior Doug Anderson kicked a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter to make it 3-0. Senior Stephen Sottosanti scored on fourth down with a 1-yard run with six seconds left in the second to give the Highlanders a 10-0 lead heading into halftime.
Before kick-off, 21 GL football seniors were recognized for their position on the varsity squad.
Highlander senior players include: Jack Blasch, Matthew Bruno, Nick DeLuca, Stephen Disko, Carlton Edwards, Andrew Gallitelli, Emmanuel Kannellos, Jasper Lee, Richie Leonardis, Evan Lerch, Alex Lopez, Brian McCarthy, Brandon Monroe, Matt Pacheco, Ryan Paliwoda, Javon Reis-Wilson, Matt Rothfeld, Stephen Sottosanti, Lucas Vitollo, Chris Weeks, Anthony Wong
Senior Managers: Megan Magee, Maffy Rodrigues
Senior Cheerleaders: Captain Jessica DeFranco, Captain Kate O'Hara, Captain Olivia Sott, Captain Skyler Williams, Stephanie Dowling, Susie McLoughlin, Amy Tullo, Melissa Tullo
Most of the seniors hold great pride in their connection with their team and the years they have played together. “There’s no better feeling than winning, but I would have to say my best memories were with the guys I played with," said senior Nick Deluca.
Evan Lerch played a solid game for Gov. Livingston with 45 yards rushing on nine carries. He also was part of a secondary at cornerback that kept New Providence's rising sophomore quarterback Jack Barletta in check.
“It’s a great feeling to beat New Prov for the second year in a row," Manoli Kanellos, GL senior middle linebacker, said. "It’s a culmination of all the hard work we put in this season. I can’t thank my D-line enough for their persistence and motivation. This really was just a great win.”
The shutout was achieved by a hard-nosed GL defense. Behind junior linemen Dan Tomlinson, Brian Biskadurous, and Ben Collins, the Pioneer offense could not find the gaps. Highlander linebackers Kanellos, Anthony Wong, Matt Rothfeld, and Turner Haddad also worked relentlessly in concert with the linemen.
“I’m really happy for Coach Scuderi, our defensive coordinator, to get his first shutout, especially since it was against New Prov,” lineman Ben Collins ’17 said, “It was a great way to send the seniors off; it makes me proud to be a Highlander.”
New Providence (7-2-1) kept the pressure up throughout the game, making plays when it counted most. Barletta’s connections with the wide receivers kept the GL defense on its toes but could not capitalize on their opportunities. Russell Davidson and Carter Stumpf led the Pioneer defensive effort.
Although the Pioneers had two chances to score in the last few minutes to flip the momentum, the GL defense held.
“Beating New Prov twice feels so incredible, it’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Wong, who finished with 60 yards rushing on 11 carries, said, “All of the hard work that this team has done throughout the summer, off-season, and throughout the entire season really paid off. The amount that we’ve improved is so great and it ultimately led to this shutout against our biggest rival.”
Coach Dan Guyton's team finished the season at 4-6.
“I’m really proud of the seniors for coming out with a win on Thanksgiving,” Guyton said, “They led the underclassmen the whole season. We never wavered, even when we faced adversity, and I think that’s really important. It was great to see the seniors go out with a win—they deserve it.”
Photo credits: Lauren Boyd, Anne Hardina and Mike Kerr