Somerville has had four undefeated seasons in its long and storied history, but the Pioneers’ most recent – which came in 1983 – will be honored tonight at Brooks Field as Montgomery comes to town in a battle of 3-0 teams.
The ‘Ville also was undefeated in 1979, 1953 and 1929. Technically, 1909 as well; they only played one game and beat Bound Brook 16-5.
But that 1983 team is one many still remember in town.
They beat West Windsor in the Central Jersey Group 2 final at muddy Brooks Field, 30-6, to cap off an 11-0 season.
“We have a great tradition and we can tee it up with anyone. This is one of the best team’s we’ve ever had here,” head coach Jerry Moore told reporters after the game. Moore is expected to be in attendance for ceremonies Friday evening.
Somerville was 4-5 the year before, in 1982, but they were considered the favorite to win the Mid-State’s Raritan Division over Bridgewater West, which graduated 18 players from their ’82 squad.
The year got started at Frank Jost Field, where the Pioneers crushed South Plainfield in a 40-0 shutout of a Tiger team considered one of the best defensive squads in the area. It was The ‘Ville’s biggest offensive output that season.
They then took out Bridgewater West two weeks later, and went into the four-team CJ2 playoffs at 9-0 as the top-seed.
It wasn’t easy in the opening round against fourth-seed Ridge, which cut a 7-0 lead to 7-6 with a second quarter touchdown, the first Somerville had allowed in the first half of a game all year long.
In the second half, the Red Devils again challenged, but lost a fumble on their opening drive, then Paul Gibbons picked up an interception to end another possession.
The teams went into the final 12 minutes with ‘Ville still nursing a one-point lead before Pat Balunis threw a 55-yard TD strike to Pat Kelley on third-and-three from midfield, then got a 31-yard field goal with under five minutes left to seal the deal.
Somerville closed out the Raritan Division title with its 13th straight win, and tenth of the season, a 27-6 rout of Hillsborough, which had won a title just three years earlier. The Raiders scored first, in the second quarter, but the Pioneers responded with 27 unanswered points to win.
And the following week capped the perfect season. “We made the big plays all year when we had to, and it was a very good season,” Moore said after the title game.
Yes, it was.
Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko with former Somerville head coach Jerry Moore: