By: Alex Melillo
SOMERVILLE, N.J. – The Somerville Pioneers (10-1) will compete in their first sectional title game since 2000 against the Rumson-Fair Haven Bulldogs (10-1), in a rematch of last year's Sectional semifinal matchup, at High Point Solutions Stadium on the campus of Rutgers University.
Last season, the Bulldogs knocked off the Pioneers at Brooks Field. Somerville got off to a quick 13-0 lead but ultimately fell to the run first, ball control philosophy of the Bulldogs, 21-13.
Rumson-Fair Haven comes into Saturday's matchup fresh off of a Thanksgiving Day win over their rivals, Shore, 24-7.
The key for the Bulldogs is simple, feed the ball to Peter Lucas and company and let them do the rest. The senior tailback has thrived in his first full season as the featured back, with totals of 196 carries for 2110 yards and 30 touchdowns to lead the team.
On defense, the leader of the Bulldogs is Gordon Forsyth. The linebacker leads the team with 78 tackles on the season.
The Pioneers enter the game featuring a very balanced offense, accounting for over 2,500 yards on the ground and almost 1,800 yards through the air. A plethora of Ville players has contributed to the scoring, including Ryan Kovacs, Jahaln Dabney, Robbie Fiorentino, Duke McDuffie, Marcus Burnside, Kyrie Hinton, Ryan Pedrani, Joe Ciempola, DaShaun Smith, Ethan Hilliman, Tyjir Williams and Bobby Wortman. All of this could never be accomplished without the stellar line play anchored by Owen Booker, Michael DeSarno, Charley Burkhardt, Markus Lauber, Ethan Sandler, Keason Spearman and Ryan Hrabinski.
On the defense side of the ball, LB's Hrabinski, Dabney, Ciempola, and Lauber will be leaned upon to contain a potent Bulldog rushing attack. Hrabinski leads the team in tackles with 58, to go along with his team-high 10 sacks and an interception. Dabney, Ciempola (3 int's) and Lauber (2 ints) all average close to 5 tackles per game. Also contributing on defense are Hamza Akel (5 sacks,1 int), Jake Pigeon, Noah Irwin, Quron Smith ( 5 sacks),Jordan Malanga, Da'Shaun Smith (2 ints), Tyler Cole, McDuffie (4 ints), Hinton (1 int), Williams (3 ints), Pedrani and Burnside (team-high 5 ints).
The Somerville Pioneers will be trying to win a sectional title for the first time in 23 years. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from High Points Solutions Stadium on the campus of Rutgers University. For up-to-date scoring plays, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Visit our website www.somervillefootball.com for all the stats and recaps.