NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - It was a hot and steamy night for the opening week of the 2016 high school football season, but the attention was on the game at Lieder Field, with a lot on the line for both the New Providence Pioneers and Arthur L. Johnson Crusaders.
New Providence ran onto the field with the goal to avenge last year’s 40-6 first round playoff loss to the Crusaders. ALJ was determined to start off the 2016 season on the right foot.
From the beginning to the end, it was all Johnson. In a flashback, the Crusaders maintained full control of the game on both sides of the ball; keeping New Providence at bay throughout critical drives. The final score of Friday’s night game: 38-0.
The Crusaders struck from the kick-off. Senior quarterback and captain Vin Crisafi controlled the football, cut through the defenders and sped to the end zone for the game’s opening touchdown. Junior Mike Casalino’s kicked for the extra point, making it 7-0 for Johnson.
Junior Joe Turek powered into the end zone for a touchdown of his own to start the second quarter, boosting the Crusaders’ lead to 14-0. He ran the ball eight times for 11 yards.
Late in the second quarter, Crusaders senior running back and captain Jon Duffy was in a formation, looking as if he was going to punt the football, but there were other ideas in mind.
He got the ball and stormed right through for a 25-yard rush to set up deep in New Providence territory. The drive ended with a 27-yard field goal by junior Mike Casalino, as Johnson built a halftime lead of 17-0.
The win is a confidence-booster for the Crusaders, one that the team plans to build from as they face critical games within their conference and the season.
Crisafi would add a 36-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game, in the third quarter to build Johnson’s lead to 24-0. On the night, he went 1-2 with a 20-yard pass to senior Nick Fischetti and one interception.
Junior Sebastian Iakouchevitch ran the ball six times for 63 yards, along with an eight-yard rushing touchdown. Capping off an explosive night for the Crusader offense, junior running back Vito Galluzzo added a 50-yard rushing touchdown.
For New Providence, the struggles in the game were evident, with six turnovers, going 0-for-4 on fourth-down conversions, losing one fumble and throwing one interception.
“We just need to keep working hard,” said junior quarterback Jack Barletta. “I feel like we’re in the best shape we’ve been in because of Coach [Mitch] Goodstein. It’s all a matter of execution at this point. If we just execute our plays, I feel like that we’ll convert whenever we need to.”
This was Goodstein’s debut as the New Providence head coach, and he’s optimistic that his team will bounce back for next week and the rest of the season.
“I feel that our kids worked really hard tonight,” Goodstein said. “They gave it maximum effort and they showed a lot of character and a lot of strength. I don’t think anything has to change because of the effort that our kids put today. We’re a young football team and we learn each week. Every time we go out there and practice, we learn and we try to get better. That’s our goal, to be better.”
For New Providence, Barletta went 0-3 with an interception and ran the ball 10 times for 30 yards. Senior Chris Reynolds ran the ball four times for 17 yards and junior Chris Vass ran six times and picked up 29 yards.
The New Providence Pioneers (0-1) head out on the road to play Hillside High School on Saturday, September 17 at 1 p.m.