NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - What a difference a year makes.
Senior running back Jack Gertie rushed for a season-high 148 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown and senior linebacker Joe D’Anna returned an interception 35 yards for a score in the fourth quarter to lead New Providence to a 27-17 home opening victory over Bound Brook Friday night in New Providence.
New Providence (3-0), which has held its opponents to 19 points or less thus far, posted its best start since a seven-game win streak to open the 2015 season en route to a 7-3 record.
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In its last two seasons, the Pioneers opened with an eight-game and a five-game losing streak respectively en route to back-to-back disappointing 1-9 records.
“Jack (Gertie) had an outstanding game for us on both sides of the ball. He is one of the toughest competitors that I have ever coached. He really put the team on his back, especially after Bound Brook took the lead. He really willed that go-ahead touchdown to happen for our football team and our team rallied behind him,” said New Providence head coach Chet Parlavecchio. “Our offensive line did an outstanding job all night along with both of our fullbacks (Mario Fuentes and Joe (D'Anna)) paving the way for Jack.”
Junior quarterback Owen Kovacs opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Anthony Sidoli to give New Providence an early 7-0 lead.
After a defensive battle in the second and third quarters, the Pioneers erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Kovacs opened the quarter with a 1-yard TD run to extend the Pioneers lead to 14-3. After a Bound Brook (1-1) one-yard TD run by Elijah Eldridge to cut the lead to 14-10, Gertie posted a four-yard TD run, followed by D’Anna’s INT return to seal the deal.
“Joe (D'Anna) has a great ability to make big plays for us when we need them. His two interception were huge for us tonight. He is a great leader for our defense, and that is what you want from your captains, big plays at big times,” said Parlavecchio.
New Providence will visit rival Dayton (0-2) in Springfield Friday with first kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Another Pioneer rival Brearley shutout Dayton at home, 40-0, Friday.
“Dayton plays tremendously hard, but as I have said all year long, it is not really about our opponent, it is about us staying strong, improving every week and playing Pioneer football,” said Parlavecchio. “No doubt in my mind that the biggest difference in our football team has been our physical strength. Our team bought into the weight room and I do not think we are sitting here at 3-0 without the weight room. Our team has begun to embrace that culture of hard work and the physicality that the weight room brings. Most importantly our team believes in what we are doing.”
So does the rest of Pioneer Nation.