NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ - The New Providence PAL 8th Grade football team celebrated its 10-0 championship season last week and were honored with a proclamation read by Mayor Al Morgan at the New Providence Middle School cafeteria with the 18 players, coaches and families.
This 8th grade team won New Providence's first ever "Super Bowl" trophy of the New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League and secured their second Conference title.
The team shut-out Berkeley Heights, 31-0, to win the NJSFYL Super Bowl on Nov. 16, 2019. This victory brought the 8th graders to a record of 10-0, including five shutout wins. The team averaged 26 points per game. This was a total team effort and every player was a key factor in achieving their success.
"It is an honor for me to be here tonight," said Mayor Al Morgan. He told the boys he was born and raised in New Providence and graduated NPHS. While he didn't play football because he was a hockey player, his son played football along with their coach, Eli Roman. He said, they went on to the state finals and came up a little short.
Knowing this team's disappointment of losing the championship game in fifth grade, he asked the team, "How does it feel to grab the championship in 8th grade?" The room erupted with cheers. He then read the proclamation, congratulated the team and wished them the very best of luck in the future.
Head coach Vinny Carangelo told the players that coaching this team has been the most enjoyable experience he could have ever asked for. Carangelo had coached the team for the past two seasons.
Carangelo, the athletic director at NPHS, told the boys that he became a teacher because he wanted to coach football and then lacrosse. "That is what got me into this in the first place," he said. Transitioning into administration was one of his hardest decisions because he had to give up coaching. "That was going to be the hardest thing for me to do," he said. Carangelo coached football and lacrosse for NPHS, and is the winningest boys lacrosse coach in NPHS history. He knew eventually he would want to get involved in youth sports. Since coaching youth, "this was the first time that I felt like I was coaching high school kids." He said the players were mature beyond their years on the football field.
This team was special because of how "close-knit" they are, he said. This special closeness translates into their love to play football and "how much you love to play football together. It's a pleasure to work with you and an honor."
Carangelo thanked the parents for their support throughout the year. He also thanked the coaches. "As special as these guys are, you make our coaching staff just as special. The amount of work -- volunteering -- the amount of time -- collectively, you coaches bring the experience. Congratulations on an absolutely phenomenal year -- it was truly special."
Carangelo coached alongside his father, Vinny, a 22 year veteran football coach. He announced that this will be his last season coaching. "[To] Call it quits after coaching an amazing great group of guys will be something I will always remember," he said. "Nothing makes us feel more proud -- it was a pleasure." He thanked the team for letting him be part of it. "Thank you for putting it all on the line."
In addition to the Carangelos, coaches Mike Verbaro, Jeff Barlow and Eli Roman each said a few words.
Coach Mike VerbaroI has been coaching the team since the kids were in first grade. "It’s phenomenal to see how you’ve grown up both on and off the field," he said. "Individually we have 18 all stars, but as a team you are so much better as a team. -- Offense, defense -- you gave 100 percent, you didn’t care who scored. Enjoy this, don’t forget this." He wished the boys continued success.
Coach Jeff Barlow has coached the team the past three years. He said the success is from a lot of hard work and support. He mentioned that four deserving players went to the All Star game -- but, "the All Star team played all season in New Providence." He thanked the parents for sharing their sons.
Coach Eli Roman has been coaching the past six years. He said this was his easiest year to coach ever. "Kudos to the coaches and parents. I had a blast."
Maria DeLuca, a team mom and an organizer of the celebration, said she loves the team's record and perfect season. As a new team mom, she said she learned the sport by watching this team. "You set the bar really high -- a level I expect in high school," she said in jest. "We are proud."
The championship trophies from their 2016 and 2019 seasons were on display and after team photographs were taken, the players each had an opportunity for a photo with the trophy. The players then enjoyed a video montage of their season.
New Providence PAL 8th Grade Football Team Roster:
#5 Jackson Zarinko
#7 Sean Reilly
#9 Ben Bullo
#10 Eric Doden
#11 Sam Berbaro
#13 Paul Ferrigno
#14 Declan Naughton
#15 Jack Verbaro
#19 Brandon Gregory
#20 Matthew Botvinis
#24 Corey Rust
#33 Miguel Roman
#24 Nico Arcadia
#42 Vincent Mariniello
#44 Gabriel DeLuca
#54 Matthew Barlow
#76 Cameron Sheeran
#96 Sean Donnelly