ROSELLE PARK, NJ — After hanging tough with one 4-1 squad, the Big Central Conference’s Division 1B leader, South Hunterdon, Roselle Park football is faced with the task of getting right back at it to prepare for another 4-1 opponent.
That squad is Division 1A leader New Providence, which features one of the top players in Union County in senior running back Charlie Barth. In his team’s 38-0 win at Dayton on Thursday, Oct. 7, Barth rushed for 186 yards and three touchdowns, which is a typical Barth performance.
“We know he’s tough to handle,” Roselle Park second-year head coach Greg Dunkerton said.
Roselle Park (2-3, 0-2) will go back on the road to play at New Providence (5-1, 3-0) on Friday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. at Lieder Field in a battle of BCC–Division 1A squads.
The last time Roselle Park defeated New Providence was in 2017 at New Providence, 32-6. The Union County rivals opened against each other last year on Oct. 2, with host New Providence coming out on top 40-22.
Roselle Park had its moments against South Hunterdon in the home opener on Saturday, Oct. 9, before falling 28-6. The Panthers reached the end zone in the fourth quarter when junior running back Christopher Costa scored on a 12-yard run.
Defensive standouts for Roselle Park included junior end Ted Gregoire and linebackers Manuel Faxas and John Ranieri. Gregoire came up with an interception to thwart a first-half South Hunterdon drive.
“Gregoire played more of an outside linebacker position for the first time, and we liked what he was able to do there,” Dunkerton said.
Playing at home for the first time was a relief for Roselle Park, as its previous three games were road contests.
“It was nice to have a home game, although at 10:30 a.m., it was an early start,” Dunkerton said.
Roselle Park is having new lights installed, but they will not be ready for this season.
“We were happy to finally be home, and we had a nice crowd with good energy,” Dunkerton continued. “It was nice not to have to get on a bus for a change, including our scrimmages. I just wish the outcome was different.”
South Hunterdon came in with a four-game winning streak. New Providence has won three in a row, since falling at home to Willingboro.
Roselle Park is scheduled to host Dayton and Belvidere on the final two Saturdays of the month; those games will also have 10:30 a.m. starts. The Panthers are to close their 2021 season at home against Roselle on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 25.
Roselle Park won its first game at home against Highland Park, 34-6, on Thursday, Aug. 26.
Roselle Park had a 35-0 triumph at Dunellen on Friday, Sept. 3, with Costa, Faxas and Elijah Ignacio doing the damage on the ground. Costa rushed for 150 yards, Faxas for 140 and Ignacio for 65. Costa and Faxas both scored twice.
“The kids are playing hard,” Dunkerton said. “We’re a young team, so they are still learning. They’re improving each week, which is good, and learning at a pace that is most productive.”
Also, in the win against Dunellen, Gregoire was credited with 11 tackles and a blocked punt and a returned ball into the end zone for 6 points.
“He’s a big kid at 6-5, 240, and maybe even bigger,” Dunkerton said. “He’s still learning the game of football. He loves basketball, but he likes football as well.”
Roselle Park was very competitive in road games that followed, falling to Bound Brook, 40-28, on Friday, Sept. 10, and to Middlesex, 20-14, on Friday, Oct. 1.