August 13, 2018
2017 In Review: The Pioneers were 11-1, winning the Central Jersey Group 3 title by beating Rumson-Fair Haven after beating Monmouth and Ewing. They scored 477 points for a 39.75 average, while allowing 242 for a 20.17 average. Wins included Voorhees, Johnson, and Summit, while their lone loss was to Rahway.
Graduation Losses: OL Mike DeSarno – Montclair State, C Owen Booker – Stevenson (Md.), LB Ryan Hrabinski – Susquehanna, DL Jake Pidgeon – Stevens for wrestling
Offense: Somerville runs a multiple, air-raid spread and return seven starters. Returning at quarterback is senior Jalahn Dabney (6-0, 205) and running back has senior Robbie Florentino (5-10, 205) also returning.
The receivers have a host of players back in senior Joe Ciempola (6-0, 195), senior Duke McDuffie (5-10, 175), senior Da’Shaun Smith (5-10, 170), junior Ethan Hilliman (6-3, 210), senior Tyjir Williams (5-11, 168), and junior Kyree Hinton (6-0, 170). McDuffie is a three-year starter, Ciempola works as a flex tight end, and Hilliman started in the state final.
The line returns two players, both three-year starters: senior tackle Charley Burkhardt (6-1, 275) and senior guard Markus Lauber (5-10, 190). The rest of the line will be junior Pat Peluso (6-1, 225) at guard, senior Keason Spearman (5-10, 200) at center, and senior Ethan Sandler (6-1, 210) at tackle.
Defense: The Pioneers run a 4-3 and return seven starters. Returning at end is senior Quron Smith (6-1, 215) and Hilliman will play opposite him. Back at tackle is junior Noah Irwin (5-10, 180) and Burkhardt will be his partner. Rotating in will be Sandler, Florentino, and junior Victor Corvera (5-9, 225).
Linebacker returns Lauber in the middle and Ciempola outside. The other outside backer will be senior Tyler Cole (5-9, 180), with seniors Brett Sandler (5-11, 190) and Jordan Malanga (5-10, 185) in hot pursuit.
Three return to the secondary, with Da’Shaun Smith at corner and McDuffie and Williams at safety. The new corner will be junior Eric Bryant (5-6, 140), with junior Otto Kornas (6-1, 165) making a push.
Special Teams: Senior Bobby Wortman is back as both the kicker and punter. The return men will be McDuffie, Dabney, Hinton, and Smith.
Friday, 8/31, at Delbarton, 3 PM
Friday, 9/7, at Rahway, 7 PM
Friday, 9/14, North Plainfield at home, 7 PM
Friday, 9/21, Voorhees at home, 7 PM
Saturday, 9/29, at Governor Livingston, 1 PM
Friday, 10/5, Cranford at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/12, Warren Hills at home, 7 PM
Friday, 10/19, at Montgomery, 7 PM
Friday, 10/26, at Delaware Valley, 7 PM
Recruits: Dabney, Florentino, and Burkhardt are lower 1-AA prospects, while McDuffie and Ciempola are D2/D3 candidates.
Among juniors, Hilliman has been getting looks from 1-A schools.
Concerns: Staying focused and staying healthy.
Coach’s Comments: “We’re a tough, motivated team. The kids come to work every day and we’re excited about the season.” – Head Coach Dallas Whitaker