NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ — While so many football programs in New Jersey fell well short of what would normally qualify as a full season of games this fall, New Providence was able to take the field nine times -- just one game short of a full campaign in a non-COVID year.
Junior tailback Charlie Barth took every advantage of the full slate, building upon a spectacular sophomore season and emerging as an elite player in 2020.
The 5-11, 205-pound 11th-grader, who also plays inside linebacker on defense, rushed for 177 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries in the Thanksgiving Eve 35-14 victory over Gov. Livingston. Barth finished with 1,702 rushing yards and 25 TDs on 186 carries this season. He surpassed 100 yards in every game he played, and also led the team with 115 tackles this season.
As a sophomore, Barth rushed for 1,510 yards and 19 TDs in 10 games.
"Charlie has been incredible this year, and while he did have an outstanding sophomore year, he has had an even better junior year," New Providence head coach Chet Parlavecchio Jr. said. "He came into this season so focused and determined to be even better than he was a year ago. He has taken more of a leadership role with the team this year and was elected captain by his teammates during the preseason."
Barth capped the team's de facto division championship victory over Brearley with a 13-yard TD run in overtime in which he barreled past the final defender at the 1-yard line after appearing to be stopped short of the goal line. That tied the game and Brandon Mora's extra point won it, 21-20. The run was typical of Barth's knack for seeking out contact rather than avoiding it, and usually ending up on the winning end of one-on-one contact battles with opposing defenders.
"What I love most about him is that he wants the ball in the big moments, he wants to make the game-changing plays and he has the ability to do that," Parlavecchio said. "You can see that in all of our big games this season, he took those games over. His teammates rally around him as well. He makes everyone else elevate their games, and that is what is so special about him. I know that coming into this year he wanted to be better than he was a year ago, and I know next year he will want to be even better than he was this season, and he has the ability to do that. He is a special player and I cannot wait to see what he looks like next year."
Barth is the Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week.
Earlier this week, Barth took time to respond to some questions from TAPinto New Providence.
Q: Sum up your level of satisfaction with your season, personally and as a team?
A: It all came together for the seniors. We knew from the beginning of the season that anything could happen at anytime. Knowing that this was going to be their last season of high school football we used that fuel to make sure that we left everything out on the field each game. Coming out of the season 8-1 as conference champions and winners of this year's Mayor's Cup between NP and GL, I'd say we were able to give the seniors not only a memorable season but a historical season. Personally, I could not be more honored to have been able to share such an experience with this group of guys.
Q: How much of an effect did the COVID restrictions have on your own preparation for the season during the summer months?
A: Although the COVID restrictions took away our access to gyms and the ability to get together as a team, I feel like it only pushed us to work harder than ever this past summer. To personally prepare, I just remember having to get creative with the minimal workout equipment I had at home. As a result, many of my workouts began to range anywhere between 2 1/2 to three hours, but I knew that the sacrifice was necessary and that the only way to get ahead this offseason was through punching in the hours. But it wasn't just me. The whole team had to get creative, and it is obvious that their sacrifices also paid off.
Q: And, speaking of that, how remarkable an achievement do you consider it to have been able to play nine games this fall?
A: Ever since the shutdown beginning in March earlier this year, we were unsure if we were even going to have a season. Once we got the go-ahead that we will be having a shortened season, everyone was locked in and thankful for any opportunity to see the field this year. We took the season one game at a time and treated every game as though it was our last because it very well could have been. Now, after having a total of nine games this season, I am beyond grateful for everything this team has been able to accomplish and proud of the way my teammates handled the adversity.
Q: Have you started to consider colleges yet, or are any in contact with you about playing football?
A: As far as colleges go, I have not been in contact with any coaches yet. I am certainly looking to play football in college, and I am currently reviewing schools of interest and preparing my film. I hope to be able to attend some camps this offseason as well to hopefully get the chance to meet with coaches in person. However, this may be difficult depending on the circumstances.
The Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors Pioneer Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Joe Eberle Weichert Realtors located at 64 Main Street in Chatham. Joe is an over 25 year New Providence resident who is an active member of the New Providence community. Contact Joe anytime, whether it's to get started on helping you realize your real estate goals and dreams, or just to ask a question about the local market. Joe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 908-868-4800.