By: Alex Melillo
SOMERVILLE, NJ – On Youth Day at Brooks Field, the Somerville Pioneers will host the Voorhees Vikings this Friday. Both teams enter the matchup with 2-0 records.
Following a disappointing 2016 campaign (3-7), the Vikings have stormed out of the gate this year. Voorhees started the season with back to back shutouts against Governor Livingston, 23-0, and last week's opponent, Cranford, 35-0.
Commanding the Voorhees attack is Junior QB, George Eberle. The second-year starter put up impressive numbers in 2016, despite the frustrating season. Eberle threw for over 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns. The major improvement in Eberle's game from last year to this year has been his efficiency. While his completion rate in 2016 was 49 percent, he has completed 78.5 percent of his passes so far this season, with four touchdowns and one interception. Against Cranford, Eberle completed 13 of his 15 drop backs with three touchdowns. The junior even rushed in for two more touchdowns.
The Vikings have a trio of wideouts that have each already totaled over 150 yards receiving. The primary target of the group is the 6'-2" senior Jack McCabe. After two games this season, McCabe has hauled in six passes for 185 yards and a touchdown. The other two primary wide receivers, John Roncoroni and Will Rodenberger, have combined for 14 catches for 307 yards and three touchdowns.
Leading the ground attack for the Vikings is Colin Tong. The senior has rushed 24 times on the young season, totaling 140 yards and a score. Tong has already surpassed his combined rushing totals from his sophomore and junior seasons (136).
The Voorhees defense, which has yet to be breached, is guided by Tong and Scott Fernandes. Tong has collected 20 tackles so far on the season, including an 11 tackle effort on opening night against Governor Livingston. Fernandes leads the team in sacks with three, together with 13 tackles.
The Somerville Pioneers enter Friday night's game after a 54-25 win at North Plainfield. The Pioneers exploded for 54 points in a game in which both defense and offense put points on the board.
After struggling in the first game of the season against Cranford, Senior QB Ryan Kovacs came out on fire completing 19 of 23 passing attempting totaling 228 yards and four touchdowns. On the season, Kovacs has 363 yards, with 5 touchdowns and one interception.
The young wide receiving core is led by Junior WR/DB Duke McDuffie and WR/DB Kasi Miller. McDuffie leads the Pioneers with 10 catches for 174 yards and a touchdown, while Miller has hauled in five catches for 70 yards and a score.
On the ground, McDuffie and fellow Junior Robert Fiorentino have paced the attack, combining for 327 yards and four touchdowns. Last week against the North Plainfield Canucks, Fiorentino had his breakout game, rushing for 149 yards and a touchdown.
The Pioneer defense has been solid this season with a number of players stepping up to fill voids left by last season's departing seniors. Leading the defense for Somerville is Senior OL/DL Ryan Hrabinski and Junior WR/LB Joseph Ciempola. Hrabinski is tied for the team lead in sacks with two, along with 14 tackles. Ciempola is the leading tackler for the Pioneers with 19.
The Somerville defense has put points on the board in back to back games, both via interceptions returned for touchdowns. Both have come late in the fourth quarter, and both have put the game to rest for the Pioneers. In the opener, Junior WR/DB Tyjir Williams struck for the pick six, while during last week's game, fellow Junior WR/DB Da'Shaun Smith returned his 98 yards for the score.
The Pioneers remain in 7th place in the Courier News All-Area, according to High School Football writer Simeon Pincus.
In Matt Stypulkosk's state Group 3 rankings for NJ.com, Somerville is placed at 5th, one spot behind Rumson-Fair Haven.
Come out to Brooks Field, this Friday, September 22, when the Somerville Pioneers take on the Voorhees Vikings. Kickoff is set for 7:30 pm. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (@VilleFootball) for all up-to-date info, scores and more. Visit our website at www.somervillefootball.com for post-game reactions and recaps.