NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Heading into last week’s regular season finale, the Pioneers football program was on the edge of missing the state tournament as the No. 8 seed before jumping all the way to No. 3 and getting the opportunity to host an opening round tournament game.
Finishing with a 6-2 record, the Pioneers will entertain No. 6 Shabazz at Lieder Field on Saturday.
The Bulldogs enter the postseason riding a three game winning streak, where they have outscored their opponents 112-7 since losing to Verona 21-13.
Despite being 3-0 since losing to the Hillbillies on October 18, Shabazz has not played a playoff contender since. West Side, Cedar Grove and Millburn, all losers to the Bulldogs, hold a combined record of 5-21.
However, Shabazz’s three loses have come by a combined 20 points, with each defeat ending within one possession, all to state championship contenders.
Led by an offensive scheme built on the arm of quarterback Zaire Fogle, the Bulldogs are a threat to both run and pass, though they have been most successful through the air.
On the season, Fogle is 54-87 for 1,242 yards with 13 touchdowns and only two interceptions. More impressively though for the Bulldogs, has been their ability to gain big chunks of yards on the ground.
Sami Armstrong has rushes in only four games this year, where he is averaging 97.5 yards per game. More impressively, Armstrong gets 12.2 yards every time he touches the ball.
Defensively, New Providence quarterback Matt McCann needs to avoid Bulldog superstar Al-Rashid Coleman at all costs. The senior defensive back has five interceptions on the season, returning two of his picks for touchdowns.
Coleman’s defense is giving up only 11 points per game, including two shutouts and two 7-point performances.
Kick-off for the Pioneers’ opening round state tournament game is scheduled for 1 p.m.