Author: Mike Pavlichko

INSTANT REPLAY-Basilone Bowl: Devil Dogs 21, Leathernecks 7

The Devil Dogs got touchdown runs from Franklin’s Nasan Colson and Hillsborough’s Tyler Michinard after the Raiders’ Jay Mazuera hooked up with Hunterdon Central’s Owen Bill for the first score of the game just two plays in, as the Devil Dogs beat the Leathernecks 21-7 in the 9th annual Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Bowl in Bridgewater.

Dave LePoidevin scored the lone touchdown for the Leathernecks on a two-yard quarterback keeper on the opening drive of the second half.

Click below to listen to Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino call all the play-by-play on June 14, 2022:

Audio highlights from the 2022 Basilone Bowl

Click below to listen to all four scoring plays from the 2022 Basilone Bowl, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino:

SCORING PLAYS:

11:12/1st – Jay Mazuera 65 yd TD pass to Owen Bill (kick good)

2:00/2nd – Nasan Colson 10 yd TD run (kick good)

4:57/3rd – Patrick LePoidevin 2 yd TD run (kick good)

8:19/4th – Tyler Michinard 10 yd TD run (kick good)

Devil Dogs strike early, defeat Leathernecks in 2022 Basilone Bowl

After two plays, it looked like the ninth edition of the Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Bowl might have a score in the 30s or 40s. Jay Mazuera of Hillsborough hit Owen Bill of Hunterdon Central for a 65-yard touchdown strike to put the Devil Dogs up 6-0, plus the PAT by South Hunterdon’s Trevor McLoughlan, and it looked like we might be off to the races.

Things settled down a bit though, with a good deal of the first half played between the 30-yard lines, and it wasn’t until two minutes left in the first half before the fans on hand would see another score. That came from Franklin’s Nasan Colson, who ran in a ten-yard score on his eighth carry of the game to make it 14-0 with the extra point.

And it turned out that was all the Devil Dogs needed to beat the Leathernecks, in a game played every year in honor of Raritan’s favorite son, John Basilone. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts at the Battle of Guadalcanal, only to be killed in action after re-upping and joining the fight in the battle of Iwo Jima, at the age of 28.

Colson was named the Devil Dogs’ Offensive MVP, while Jacob Ventura of Pingry was named Defensive MVP and Bill was named the overall Basilone Bowl MVP.

In the second half, the Leathernecks cut it to a touchdown on a two-yard run by Bound Brook’s Patrick LePoidevin that capped an 80-yard drive, but that was as close as they would get. With 8:19 left in the fourth – a period that started with only ten minutes on the clock on humid night – Hillsborough’s Tyler Michinard took a handoff from Mazuera and ran ten yards for the score, and the final one of the night, making it 21-7.

In the losing cause, the Leathernecks were led by Offensive MVP Alex Benitez and Defensive MVP Andre Soumeillant, both from Montgomery.

Listen below to postgame reaction from the 2022 Basilone Bowl champion Devil Dogs:

Hunterdon Central’s Owen Bill. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Owen Bill
Franklin’s Nasan Colson. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)
Nasan Colson
Devil Dogs and Hillsborough head coach Kevin Carty, Jr. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

Immaculata’s A.J. Johnson talks Spartans coming together, influence of Hewitt, ahead of state final vs. Ranney

A lot of things have to come together in the right way at the right time to win a championship, no matter what sport, no matter the level.

On Opening Day 2022, April 1, at Diamond Nation in Flemington, it didn’t look like any of that was in the offing for Immaculata. At least not to the naked eye.

It was cold, windy, and rainy. And Somerville beat the Spartans in an in-town rivalry game 15-4, in a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Talk about inauspicious starts.

Fast forward 76 days later, and Immaculata is the only team remaining in the state playoffs from either Middlesex or Somerset Counties, playing for a Non-Public Group B Championship Wednesday night at 7 pm at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton.

You can hear the game on Central Jersey Sports Radio with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action, with pregame set for 6:15 pm; click here to listen.

Senior A.J. Johnson has been a big part of all that, and on a young ballclub. One of only five seniors on the team, he’s hitting .337 with 15 runs batted in, good for second on the team behind freshman and team leader Jason Capindica’s 21.

Click below to hear Johnson talk about the season, the newcomers coming together, the influence of assistant coach Norm Hewitt, and Wednesday’s title game against Ranney:

Coming together: Immaculata grew from Day One in ’22, now playing for state title

It’s been a long and winding road – and sometimes full of hills, too – for the 2022 Immaculata Spartans.

And yet, somehow, maybe even by way of a miracle, they’re in the the state finals Wednesday.

That is not to say there was no talent involved. Heck, there was plenty of that. But everyone in ‘Lata-land is still buzzing over what happened last Friday at Diamond Nation in Flemington.

The Spartans had been through the gauntlet of the Skyland Conference Delaware Division. Night in and night out, tough outs like eventual division champ Hunterdon Central, eventual Somerset County Tournament champ Ridge, Somerville, Bridgewater, and we could go on.

In the states, they won big in the opening round, beat Prep B runner-up Morristown-Beard in the quarters, and ran roughshod over SCT finalist Rutgers Prep – the top seed in the section in the semis – and all of a sudden found themselves down 7-0, and getting no-hit by Gill St. Bernard’s.

They wound up winning that game 8-7 on a walk-off bases-clearing double by Jason Capindica, to claim the program’s fifth sectional championship, and first in a dozen years.

So here they are: Wednesday, the Non-Public North B Spartans will take on South B champ Ranney out of Tinton Falls, 7 pm at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will have all the action, live and free – click here to listen – with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas calling all the action.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Immaculata coach Kevin Cust about the Spartans’ run to the state finals:

Basilone may be a local hero, but his legend lives throughout the Marines

Sometimes it seems like you can’t go five feet in Raritan Boro without seeing a plaque, sign, monument, or running into someone where the name John Basilone is involved.

Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic efforts at the Battle of Guadalcanal, only to be killed in action after re-upping and joining the fight in the battle of Iwo Jima, at the age of 28.

But his legend isn’t just known to us locals. He is a national hero, with a story Captain Kevin Keyser says “every good Marine should know.”

And that’s why – for the ninth year – they’re playing the Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone Bowl, presented by the United States Marine Corps and the Somerset County Coaches Association over at Bridgewater-Raritan High School.

Central Jersey Sports Radio will be broadcasting the game – involving high school seniors from throughout Somerset and, this year, Hunterdon Counties – and all the pomp and circumstance that goes with it, including a halftime show featuring the Marine Corps Quantico southern Lousiana stlye brass band.

Dom Savino and Mike Pavlichko will call all the action, with pregame starting just after 6:30, with kickoff just after 7:00. Click here to listen live, for free.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko speak with Captain Kevin Keyser of the Marines’ Recruiting Station New Jersey about the Basilone Bowl and the Marines’ involvement in the game for the past decade:

Early love of baseball still fuels Immaculata freshman Capindica

From a very young age, probably before he could even remember, Jayden Capindica was obssessed with baseball. That obssession was further fueled by his summer nights spent at TD Bank Park, watching his beloved Somerset Patriots.

To Young Jayden, he might as well have been watching the Yankees. It was baseball, up close and personal. It didn’t hurt that those were some pretty damn good teams, too. He was there for the regular season, playoffs, and championships, including Travis Anderson’s walk-off homer to win the 2009 Atlantic League Championship.

Which makes it even more of a perfect story line that Capindica’s home run Friday afternoon at Diamond Nation helped his Spartans claw back from a 7-0 deficit, winning it on his bases-clearing double in the seventh, to shock Gill St. Bernard’s and win Immaculata its fifth sectional title in program history.

Now, the Spartans will go for their third state championship Wednesday, when they take on Ranney School out of Tinton Falls. And you’d be a fool to think Capindica won’t have a profound impact on the game; he always does.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with freshman Jayden Capindica as the team prepares to play for a state title:

Central Jersey Sports Radio will broadcast Wednesday’s Non-Public Group B title game between North B champion Immaculata and South B champion Ranney. Game time at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton is 7 pm. Pregame starts at 6:15 with Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas on the call. Click here to listen for free.

Added emphasis on athletics has turned Ranney into a parochial power, with some GMC influence

The move was a no-brainer for then Monroe baseball coach Pat Geroni. With two young children at home, he wanted to be closer to his family as much as he could.

He practically lives around the corner from the Ranney School, a small private school with only 600 or so students enrolled from kindergarten through high school,and a heavy emphasis placed on a ademica.

But it was also a private school that had an opening for a head baseball coach, and a push to emphasize athletics to a higher degree. Geroni was up for the challenge.

And so, after seven seasons in southern Middlesex County, Geroni traded his Falcon purple and gold for Panther blue, leaving Monroe with over 100 victories and a GMC Tournament title on his resume.

Three years later, his move has paid off. Thanks to a dramatic semifinal walkoff win over perennial power Gloucester Catholic, Ranney is a sectional champion for the first time ever, and playing for a state title Wednesday.

The Panthers will play Immaculata for the Non-Public Group B title at Veterans’ Park in Hamilton, and Central Jersey Sports Radio will carry the game live, with first pitch set for 7 pm, and pregame set for 7:15. Mike Pavlichko and Chris Tsakonas will call all the action, with pregame at 6:15. Click here to listen.

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talking with Ranney head coach Pat Geroni:

For Soumeillant, Cruz, Basilone Bowl takes on a little extra meaning

For the 80 players on the two rosters for the 9th annual Basilone Bowl at Bridgewater-Raritan’s Basilone Stadium Tuesday night, the game is one last chance to take the field, and for a good cause – the Basilone Memorial Foundation – which helps support the Robert Wood Johnson Cancer Center and the Fisher House Foundation for military families.

For some of those 80, it’s not their last time on a football field; they’ll be playing in college.

But for defensive end Andre Soumeillant of Montgomery and wide receiver Marvin Cruz of North Plainfield, the game is something even more special. They will be serving in the military before too long.

Soumeillant is joining the Army ROTC down at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Cruz will be joining the Marines.

These are not snap decisions. These are plans that have long been in the works for both of them. A lot of hard work, and a lot of discipline, and they’re 110-percent ready for it.

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko speak with both seniors as they get ready to strap it up one last time before they embark on life in the military:

Montgomery’s Andre Soumeillant
North Plainfield’s Marvin Cruz

Central Jersey Sports Radio will carry the 9th Annual Basilone Bowl live Tuesday night, with kickoff from Basilone Field set for 7 pm. Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the action; click here to listen.