NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- The tradition-rich New Providence football program struggled to post a single victory two seasons ago, but the sting of that disappointing campaign now seems like it was light years ago.
In his second season at New Providence, head coach Chet Parlavecchio Jr. guided the Pioneers to a rapid turnaround with an 8-2 record that was much more in keeping with the winning legacy the school has been used to dating back to the long tenure of legendary coach Frank Bottone. In 2019, New Providence appears ready to build upon last year's 8-2 record and strive for bigger things.
"I believe we can continue to build on the success that we had a year ago," Parlavecchio said. "We have some great veteran players returning in key spots, and we have some very talented up and coming players."
Anchored by senior Tucker Davidson, the Pioneers should be especially well-equipped in the trenches. Both their offensive and defensive lines are strong, experienced and formidable.
"I believe that our offensive and defensive lines will be a huge strength for our team," the coach said. "I believe we are returning one of the best two-way linemen in Group 1 and Union County in Tucker Davidson (who was First Team All-State Group 1 and FirstTeam All-Conference as a junior). We return another player in Mitch Ping who had a great year as a junior for us and has done an incredible job this off season getting himself bigger and stronger. I believe he is ready for an outstanding senior year."
At both tight end and defensive end, Aidan Donnelly, another returning 1st Team All Conference player, has been recruited by some Patriot League schools. "He is a great blocker and receiver as a tight end and a great defensive end as well," Parlavecchio said. "He is primed for a huge year. We have some great competition for some of the remaining spots as well. Ari Potouridis played a lot for us up front a year ago and plays with a great motor, and pound for pound may be our strongest player. Nate Woodby is another player that got a lot of time up front, as well."
Strength up front is always a source of comfort for a head coach, and so is a seasoned veteran at quarterback. New Providence certainly has that in senior Owen Kovacs, a three-year starter who passed for 888 yards and nine touchdowns and also ran for six TDs last season.
"Owen has had a tremendous off season and as I told him already, we are going to go as far as he takes us," Palavecchio said. "He has gotten bigger and strong and looks great throwing the ball. He is an outstanding athlete and a guy that can throw and run, and we are going to call on him to do all of that. He is a great leader and he's as tough as they come."
Senior RB/LB Marcello Boccellari, another returning three year starter, will be asked to lead a relatively young corps of linebackers on defense as well as carrying considerable responsibility on the offensive side of the ball. Another senior New Providence is expecting to step up at linebacker is Tian Qin, "a hard worker and a very smart football player," the coach said.
Other skill players who will help shape New Providence's course of success this season include junior RB/DB Jake Wied, and wideouts Sean Michaels, Tim Walsh and Gavin Duffy.
"We have some really good skill players that I think can step up for us this year and have great years," Parlavecchio said. "Jake Wied, has a chance to be a really good playmaker for us with great speed, he also played a lot last year for us on the varsity level. Sean Michaels and Tim Walsh are two guys that have done a great job this off-season and we expect them to be real good wide receivers and DBs. Gavin Duffy is another player that we expect to contribute, he is a very tough player."
New Providence opens its season Friday, Sept. 13 at home against Dayton at 7 p.m.
"A lot of our younger players played in varsity games a year ago and got quality minutes," Parlavecchio said. "While we have guys that may be a little inexperienced, those guys have a great deal of talent and have all gotten bigger and stronger this off-season."
NEW PROVIDENCE 2019 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
9-13 (H) Dayton
9-20 (H) Roselle Park
9-27 @ Bound Brook
10-03 @ Manville
10-11 @ South Hunterdon
10-18 (H) Belvidere
10-25 (H) A.L. Johnson
11-1 @ Brearley
11-28 @ Gov. Livingston (THANKSGIVING)
KEY RETURNING VARSITY PLAYERS
Owen Kovacs - Sr. QB/DB
Tucker Davidson - Sr. OL/DL
Marcello Boccellari - Sr. RB/LB
Aidan Donnelly - Sr. TE/DE
Mitch Ping - Sr. OL/DL
Jake Wied - Jr. RB/DB
Nate Woodby - Sr. OL/LB
Tian Qin - Sr. LB/TE
Ari Potouridis - Sr. OL/DL
Chris Robertson - Sr. RB/LB
Liam Donahue - Sr. OL/DL
Charlie Palmer - Jr. OL/DL
Sean Michaels - Jr. WR/DB
Tim Walsh - Jr. WR/DB
Gavin Duffy - Jr. RB/LB
Charlie Barth - So. RB/LB
Anthony Kaspereen - So. OL/DL