By: Alex Melillo
SOMERVILLE, N.J. – The Somerville Pioneers (3-0) visit Warren Hills (2-1) in the first Saturday matchup of the season for both squads. The Blue Streaks are undefeated at home this season.
Warren Hills is coming off of an impressive 20-17 comeback win against Summit. Currently sitting in second place in the Mid-State 38 Raritan division, the Blue Streaks are one game ahead of Somerville cross-town rival, Immaculata.
In that Summit game, the Blue Streaks were trailing as late as the third quarter against the Hilltoppers. Warren Hills then scored a key kickoff return, biting into the Summit lead. With 29 seconds remaining on the clock, Warren Hill's QB Cooper Gabrich found teammate Hayden Van Solkema for the 8-yard score. That touchdown would give the Blue Streaks their walk-off win.
Somerville's last outing was against Voorhees, ending in a tight 34-20 win for the Pioneers. Somerville found themselves down by as much as 11 in the second quarter but fought back with a pair of touchdowns to even up the score at 20 going into halftime. Second half touchdowns by juniors Jalahn Dabney and Duke McDuffie sealed the deal for the Pioneers.
For Warren Hills and Somerville, the fight will come down to who controls the trenches. Both teams have used the running game to tremendous effect this season. Warren Hills has two players, Zach Hamilton and Sean Morris, with over 30 plus touches each. Morris has proven to be the more lethal of the two so far, racking up 222 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown.
On the other hand, Somerville has fired off two consecutive games in which the rushing offense has been electric. After a dominating 215 yards rushing in Week 2 against North Plainfield, Somerville topped their performance last week running the ball for 335 yards.
Leading the ground game for the Pioneers has been RB Robert Fiorentino. After a quiet game on opening night against Cranford with only two carries, the junior tailback has exploded during the past two games, totaling a combined 290 yards rushing and a pair of touchdowns.
The Pioneer offense continues to produce, scoring an average of 45 points per game. Their specialty has been their ability to close games out strong. On the season, 67 percent of their total points have come in the second half of games this season.
The Pioneer defense has been equally as impressive this season so far, allowing an average of 20.5 points per game.
Continuing to showcasing their ability to cause turnovers, Somerville now has a streak of three straight games with at least one pick. Their season high came last week against Voorhees when they registered three interceptions, one each by juniors Duke McDuffie, Tyjir Williams and Kasi Miller.
After the home win against Voorhees, the Pioneers remained fifth in Matt Stypulkoski's Group 3 state rankings for NJ.com's High School Football section.
In the Courier News All-Area rankings, Somerville sits in sixth place, one spot ahead of the Ridge Red Devils.
The Pioneers and Blue Streaks clash Saturday night at Warren Hills. Kickoff is slated for 7:30. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@VilleFootball) for live scoring updates and more. Visit us on our website, www.somervillefootball.com, for post-game recaps with player reactions and highlights.