NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - After an opening week where the offense thrived under senior quarterback Jack Harvey and the defense came up clutch when it needed to most, the Pioneer faithful were expecting a relatively easy week two victory over Belvidere, a squad New Providence hammered last season 34-7.
However, that was far from the case as a lackluster offensive performance and some special teams miscues ultimately led to the shocking upset that nobody saw coming.
With Pingry on the horizon, here are four things we learned from last Friday’s upset loss and what the Pioneers will need to improve on to get back on track.
First Down: The Pioneer offense and defense need a full, healthy unit in order to be successful. Both Ibn Nash and Yamato Ejiri have been plagued with the injury bug so far this season, and they are vital components to both the success of the offense and the defense. If New Providence wants to make a run at the conference title , it is imperative that they have a full, healthy roster.
Second Down: The Pioneer offense needs to be more unpredictable when they are struggling with the running game. In an offensive onslaught, Harvey was able to run and throw all over South Hunterdon, throwing for a pair of touchdowns, while also running for three. However, he was shut down on the ground against a stingy Belvidere defense and the passing game was held up as well. It didn’t help that he had a banged up offensive core, but nonetheless something will have to improve on the offensive side of the ball. Don’t be surprised if next week Harvey and the offensive unit has a massive bounce back game on Saturday against a Pingry team the Pioneers have dominated in the recent years (five straight wins).
Third Down: The defensive side of the ball is capable of keeping this team in games. Even with the struggling offense and for the most part solid field position for many starts to drives for Belvidere, the defense was able to keep the County Seaters out of the end zone for 48 minutes, which in most cases will win you ball games. If Kenny Kane, the Belvidere kicker, wasn’t lights out on all four field goal attempts, the Pioneers would most likely be 2-0 heading into week three.
Fourth Down: Matt McCann, the senior running back and receiver, as well as a key component on the defensive end, is the x-factor for the Pioneers. His playmaking abilities as a running back, wide receiver, and even quarterback (he completed a big 15-yard pass against Belvidere) are unique to the team and when he has a big game, so does the Pioneers.
New Providence looks to get back to their winning ways when they face their first road test in Martinsville as they take on 1-1 Pingry. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday.