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New Providence Football Ready To Defend Group I Title

The Pioneers, under new head coach Art Cattano, open their season tonight under the new Lieder Field lights at 7 p.m.

For the first time since 1990 when the New Providence football team was attempting a 4-peat, the Pioneers are defending North 2, Group 1 state champions.

It took New Providence 21 years to win its sixth state championship in the playoff era, with the three others it captured in North 2, Group 1 coming in 1987, 1988 and 1989.

This year’s squad believes it can seriously challenge for another state title, despite the loss of key players to graduation such as tall quarterback Jack Cole, elusive running back Vinny Fuschetto and strong two-way lineman Zach Troutman.

Cole is playing basketball at Division 2 Stonehill in Massachusetts, Snapple Bowl All-Star Fuschetto is playing football at Marist and North-South All-Star Troutman is playing football at Albany.

“We’ll miss Vinny, Jack and Zach, but we feel very confident and strong about our team,” said senior left halfback and linebacker David Barletta, a returning starter on both sides of the ball who has given Fordham a verbal commitment for football.

Barletta said that Fordham was a perfect fit for him and also acknowledged that Vince Lombardi played there.

“I was very excited when I talked to the coaches, it’s close to home and a great school,” Barletta said.

Barletta and fellow senior Robbie Fay served as captains at New Providence’s game-scrimmage last Friday night, which was home vs. Group 3 Ferris of Jersey City.

Fay kicked a field goal for New Providence’s first points. He is among the top placekickers in Union County along with senior Jonathan Gribbin of Westfield and junior Mike Badgley of Summit. Fay is also a fine punter.

“I think we played well and looked strong on offense and defense,” Barletta said of his team’s performance against Ferris. “One of our tackles even scored a touchdown.”

Returning starters on offense include Barletta and the following linemen: senior left guard Joe Ferratti, senior center Nick Iannacone, junior right guard Zak Piech and senior left end Brayan Arroyo.

They will be providing protection for first-year quarterback Michael Marchesano.

“Michael fits right in,” first-year head coach Art Cattano said. “He’s a good passer and runs the ball well.”

Marchesano was the junior varsity signal-caller a year ago.

“What we need for our offense he can do a lot of things with,” Cattano said.

Having four returning linemen will help Marchesano make the transition from JV to varsity.

“We have 15-18 linemen, giving a lot of kids reps,” Cattano said.

Barletta, who also excels in basketball for Cattano and in lacrosse for assistant football coach Vinnie Carangelo, could see 20 carries a game.

“David has real good speed, is strong and we plan on using him a lot,” Cattano said. “He’ll also get the ball thrown to him in the slot.”

Cattano said junior Derek Singer will also be one of the team’s top running backs. Fay will line up as the right halfback.

As a kicker, Fay is someone Cattano can count on in more ways than one.

“He has pretty good range as a kicker and as punter, he has distance, hang time and can put the ball near the goal line,” Cattano said. “He’s a real weapon that way.”

Last year in his first season as New Providence’s kicker, Fay closed victories against Roselle in the regular season on the road and vs. Hoboken in the playoffs at home with game-winning field goals. His 17-yarder as time expired was the difference in a 23-20 September win at Roselle’s Arminio Field. His 34-yarder with five seconds left lifted the Pioneers to a dramatic 24-21 November come-from-behind victory over Hoboken at Lieder Field.

Returning starters on defense include Iannacone at nose guard, Ferratti at right tackle, Arroyo at left end, Barletta at linebacker and Fay at free safety.

Barletta (6-5, 205) said he put on 15 pounds after “lifting every day and drinking protein shakes.”

“It will help moving out blockers,” said Barletta of the position he might play in college.

Ferratti, a valuable performer on both lines, is a three-year starter.

“Joe really has the ability to dominate a game,” Cattano said. “He’s a very athletic kid. We can put him anywhere. He could play running back or receiver because he’s such a great athlete.”

New Providence, which will open at home tonight against Dayton in the program’s first “official” night game , had its first two scrimmages at Union City, a quad, on Aug. 26 and then at Caldwell on Aug. 30.

New Providence had a big edge on the scoreboard against Ferris two weeks ago. In addition, longtime former assistant coach Cattano was pleased with what his Pioneers were able to accomplish.

“When I saw the film, I thought we played even better,” Cattano said.

Like many teams, New Providence lost its share of talent to graduation. However, the Pioneers also have a pretty good core of returning players who have the potential to lead New Providence to a Union County-leading 10th straight playoff season.

The experience those players gained from two grueling, come-from-behind home playoff wins against Hoboken and Verona and then the could prove very beneficial.

“They definitely know that they’ve been in a lot of those situations,” Cattano said. “They were down and had the ability to come back.

“Those kids know that sooner or later, they will break a big play or make a big play defensively.

“There’s no reason why we can’t win again. The kids are thinking that they would like to do so again.”

 

NEW PROVIDENCE SPINNER OFFENSE:

C Nick Iannacone, junior, (5-9, 250)

RG Zak Piech, junior, (6-1, 225)

RT Jay Navarette, senior, (6-0, 210)

LG Joe Ferratti, senior, (6-3, 250)

LT Brendan Davis, senior, (6-1, 210)

LE Brayan Arroyo, senior, (6-0, 205)

RE Dan Sullivan, senior, (5-9, 150)

QB Michael Marchesano, junior, (6-0, 175)

RHB Robby Fay, senior, (5-9, 165)

LHB David Barletta, senior, (6-5, 205)

FB Erik Wehner, junior, (6-0, 195)

PK-P Robby Fay, senior, (5-9, 165)

Returning starters: Iannacone, Ferratti,

Barletta, Piech, Arroyo and Fay as PK-P.

 

NEW PROVIDENCE’S 5-2 DEFENSE:

NG Nick Iannacone, junior, (5-9, 250)

RT Joe Ferratti, senior, (6-0, 210)

RE Brendan Davis, senior, (6-1, 210)

LE Brayan Arroyo, senior, (6-0, 205)

LT Jay Navarette, senior, (6-0, 210)

LB David Barletta, senior, (6-5, 205)

LB Erik Wehner, junior, (6-0, 195)

RCB Dan Sullivan, senior, (5-9, 150)

S Vinny Sidoli, junior, (5-0, 190)

FS Robby Fay, senior, (5-9, 165)

LCB Derek Singer, junior, (5-11, 185)

Returning starters: Iannacone, Ferratti,

Arroyo, Fay.

 

NEW PROVIDENCE PIONEERS

Head coach: Art Cattano,

first season.

A 1973 New Providence graduate.

Conference: Mid-State 39

Division: East C

Section: North 2, Group 1

New Providence’s last sectional title: 2010

2010: (11-1 and 5-0 in East C Division-champs)

Lieder Field: Field Turf.

Cattano was an assistant coach on Frank Bottone’s staff for 32 years before he was named the program’s second head coach this spring.

 

NEW PROVIDENCE PIONEERS 2011 SEASON SCHEDULE:

Sept. 9: Dayton, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17: Roselle, 1 p.m.

Sept. 23: @ Bound Brook, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6: Brearley, 6 p.m.

Oct. 14: @ North Warren, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22: @ Summit, 1 p.m.

Oct. 28: @ Roselle Park, 7 p.m.

Nov. 4: Pingry, 7 p.m.

Nov. 24: @ Gov. Livingston, 10:30 a.m.

 

NEW PROVIDENCE PIONEERS 2010 SEASON RESULTS (11-1):

(A) New Providence 24, Dayton 0 - at Union

(A) New Providence 23, Roselle 20

(H) New Providence 43, Bound Brook 16

(A) New Providence 34, Brearley 7

(H) New Providence 28, North Warren 7

(H) Summit 36, New Providence 19

(H) New Providence 49, Roselle Park 0

(A) New Providence 28, Pingry 13

(H) New Providence 24, Hoboken 21

(H) New Providence 20, Verona 19

(H) New Providence 35, Gov. Livingston 13

(N) New Providence 21, Lincoln 8 - at New Meadowlands Stadium

Head coach: Frank Bottone

Section: North 2, Group 1

Record: 11-1

Regular season: 8-1

Playoffs: 3-0

Mid-State 39-East C Division: 5-0

Home: 6-1

Away: 4-0

Neutral: 1-0

Points for: 348

Points against: 160

Shutouts: 2

Overtime: 0-0

Playoff championships:

North 2, Group 2 – 1974 (declared), 1976

North 2, Group 1 – 1987, 1988, 1989, 2010

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