Tag: Dallas Whitaker

“All in or all out”: With personal and professional life on the rise, Whitaker bids Somerville adieu

He’s getting married soon, and being made a partner at his real estate firm.

Coaching a high school football team just didn’t fit in the equation any more. At least, not the way the job should be done.

“It’s a sad moment for me,” Dallas Whitaker told Central Jersey Sports Radio Wednesday night, just days after stepping down from the helm of the program he led to a 36-6 record over four seasons, with just five on-field losses (one this year was a COVID-related forfeit). Two of those losses came in sectional finals: to Rumson in 2018 and Woodrow Wilson in 2019.

Whitaker was brought on by Jeff Vanderbeek, the former New Jersey Devils owner who resurrected the program in 2016, after splitting time as co-head coach with Chris Cassamento in 2015. Somerville had lost 26 straight games – the second longest active streak in the state at the time – before snapping the skid with a win against North Plainfield, and finished the season 2-8.

The next year, Vanderbeek took the reins solo. And with Whitaker as Offensive Coordinator, they went 10-1, falling to Rumson-Fair Haven in the sectional semifinals in 2016, before beating the Bulldogs in 2017 to win the Central Jersey Group 3 title.

Somerville players celebrate their 2017 Central Jersey Group 3 championship – the school’s first since 1994 – at midfield at Rutgers’ High Point Solutions Stadium.

Just this Monday, the 29-year-old Whitaker had been named one of the American Football Coaches’ Association’s “35 Under 35,” which is “a prestigious program aimed at identifying and developing premier, future leaders in the football coaching profession.”

Whitaker announced his resignation via the @VilleFootball twitter account on Tuesday.

Click below to hear Dallas Whitaker talk with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

MacNair to return for Somerville as Pioneers face unbeaten Cedar Creek in sectional semis

If Somerville is going to win its second state title of the Vanderbeek/Whitaker era – and head coach Dallas Whitaker’s first – it will have to get through one of the top teams in the state, then beat a team that will have an unplanned week off.

More on that second point in a moment; first things first for the Pioneers.

First comes this week’s South Jersey Group 3 semifinal game for The ‘Ville (8-2, one loss by forfeit) against top-seed Cedar Creek (10-0).

The Pirates are the 13th-ranked team in the state, and the fourth-highest ranked public school behind Millville, Northern Highlands and Rumson-Fair Haven. They average nearly 35 points per game scoring, and have only allowed one team – Winslow – to score double-figures against them. They won their first four games by shutout.

So, it will be a tall order for Somerville, but they good news is, Ethan MacNair – who was injured in the regular season finale against Summit, then sat out last week against Rahway – will be back in the lineup.

It will be the first ever meeting between Somerville and Cedar Creek, which is led by first-year head coach James Melody.

Should the Pioneers beat the Pirates, they would play at third-seed Delsea next week for the South Jersey Group 3 title, most likely Friday night at 7 pm.

Delsea gets a bye this week, advancing automatically to the title game after second-seed Wall pulled out of the state tournament, in response to a hazing scandal being investigated by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office. The cancellation of the game was reported by multiple media outlets

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker about the Pioneers’ sectional semifinal game against Cedar Creek:

Top-ranked Somerville battles through driving rain, MacNair injury, to win slugfest against Summit

We don’t know yet who Somerville will face in the playoffs, and head coach Dallas Whitaker doesn’t really care until the NJSIAA comes out with its official brackets sometime Sunday.

But he was certainly happy with how his team came through at a very wet and windy Brooks Field Friday night, as the No. 1 Pioneers improved to 7-2beat Summit 45-22 in the Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Mark Montenero and his team, at the world-famous Autoland, heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

Ethan MacNair came out of the game late in the first quarter with an apparent ankle injury after rushing for 49 yards and a touchdown on five carries, but Hashym Hobbs stepped up big-time. He scored on Somerville’s next two offensive plays, on touchdown runs of 63 and 72 yards, staking the Pioneers to a 19-3 that would turn into a 19-9 advantage going into the locker room.

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker didn’t have an update on MacNair after the game, pending a further medical evaluation.

Hobbs’ performance came at a critical point of the game, with Summit – after a trio of three-and-outs – starting to find its groove a bit on offense. The timing of his big plays earned him Autoland Player of the Game honors.

The loss for Summit (5-4) leaves its playoff hopes in question; they’re likely in the bottom four of the North 3 standings, but may need some help to stay there.

Click below for postgame reaction from Somerville’s 45-22 win over Summit Friday night:

Junior quarterback Mike Miller

Head coach Dallas Whitaker

No. 1 Somerville in for a fight when Summit comes to town

In a series once dominated by Summit, the arrival of the Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era in Somerville has brought more intense matchups, albeit mostly won by the Pioneers.

But Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker admits the Hilltoppers have given his team fits over the years, and he expects tonight to be no different when the two teams square off at Brooks Field for the first time since 2016.

No. 1 Somerville (6-2) and Summit (5-3) will play in the final game of the regular season tonight at 7 pm, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland. Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action, beginning with the pregame show at 6:45.

Click here to listen live to all the play-by-play on cjsportsradio.com.

Summit leads the all-time series 7-4, but Somerville was won four of the last five, including a 55-42 decision last season, the most combined points (97) scored in the all-time series between the schools.

MORE CUTOFF WEEKEND COVERAGE: A team-by-team breakdown of every Big Central team’s postseason standing and chances heading into Week 9

Summit also is one of just three teams to beat Somerville in the regular season in the Jeff Vanderbeek/Dallas Whitaker era. The others are Rahway, and Northern Highlands.

While Somerville is likely to be a top eight team in the South 3 supersection – meaning at least a first-round home game – there’s much at stake for he Hilltoppers. A loss could bounce them from the North Group 3 playoffs if things don’t break right with the teams below them. But if they win, they’re in.

Click below to hear both coaches talk about tonight’s matchup:

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker

Summit head coach Kevin Kostibos

No. 1 Somerville keeps on rolling, wins 5th straight, 43-13 over Warren Hills, to clinch share of Big Central’s Division 3

The top-ranked Pioneers got another big effort from tight end-turned-runningback Ethan MacNair, who rushed 22 times for 248 yards and three touchdowns, pacing Somerville to a 43-13 win over Warren Hills Friday night in Washington Township.

Quarterback Matt Miller did not play for the Pioneers (5-1), but Dylan Knapp ran the offense efficiently. He completed his only pass attempt, for 42 yards, and carried 12 times for 65 yards, scoring two touchdowns.

Hashym Hobbs carried four times for 28 yards and had a touchdown.

Somerville can clinch the division title outright with a home win at Brooks Field next Friday night against Summit. That game is the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, and can be heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio at 7 pm, with the pregame show at 6:45.

Click below to hear postgame reaction from the field with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Justin Sontupe:

Somerville runningback Ethan MacNair

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker

No. 1 Somerville and St. Joseph to meet for the first time Saturday afternoon in Metuchen

St. Joseph head coach Rich Hilliard his team isn’t afraid to play anyone. They don’t shy away from a challenge.

That’s a good mindset for his Falcons to have when they entertain top-ranked Somerville Saturday afternoon at Brenner Family Field in the Saturday “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

The Pioneers come in with a 4-1 record, but have been dominant. Three of their four wins have been by shutout, and they have only allowed more than seven points once this season, that in a 32-20 loss to state-ranked Northern Highlands.

St. Joseph, meanwhile, is 2-3, but they’ve won two straight since losing three in a row to start the season, winning 31-7 at Piscataway, then beating New Brunswick at home last week 38-14.

Somerville is fast, and not just on foot. They run a tempo offense that puts teams back on its heels, and preparation on defense will be the key for St. Joe’s if they intend to win the game.

In fact, their best defense may be a slow, methodical offense, one that puts up some points.

Mike Pavlichko and Dom Savino will call all the action this afternoon, with the game kicking off at 2 pm. Pregame is at 1:45. You can listen live by clicking here.

Click below to hear both head coaches preview the game:

Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker

St. Joseph coach Rich Hilliard

No. 1 Somerville makes it three straight heading into big road game at Phillipsburg

The top-ranked Pioneers kept on being the Pioneers Friday night, blanking South Plainfield 43-0 at Brooks Field in Somerville, giving them a 4-1 mark heading into a big road matchup in Week Six.

Ethan MacNair had two touchdown runs, while Jaimen Bryant had a touchdown catch and a punt return for a score, while Tristan Garcia and Dylan Knapp also reached the end zone.

And then there was the defense, blanking its third opponent this season. In their four wins this season, the Pioneers have only allowed one touchdown – to Rahway – and have outscored their opponents 160-7.

Their line hiccup was a non-conference loss in the Rumble on the Raritan to Northern Highlands, 32-20. The Highlanders are ranked 11th in the state by nj.com and are their third highest-ranked public school in the state, behind Rumson-Fair Haven (No. 7) and Millville (No. 8).

Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker about the Pioneers’ win over South Plainfield, the season so far, and next Friday night’s trip to Phillipsburg:

No. 1 Somerville drops first game of season to Northern Highlands

The Somerville Pioneers, under the new regime that began with Jeff Vanderbeek as head coach, and now Dallas Whitaker, have always liked to challenge themselves.

For their first game, they came out on top, cruising past Olney Charter 25-0 down in the Germantown section of Philly last Friday night in a Week Zero game.

In Week One, they would square off against defending North Jersey, Section 1 Group 4 Champion (2019) Northern Highlands, but the Pioneers would not come out on top.

In the second game of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s “Big Central Game of the Week” doubleheader driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland, the top-ranked Pioneers fell to the Highlanders 32-20.

It was a back and forth affair until midway through the third quarter, when Northern Highlands scored the first of what would be three unanswered touchdowns and 19 unanswered points.

Dynamic senior receiver Jaimen Bryant caught eight passes for 97 yards and an 11-yard touchdown run, but it was Mike Miller who was named the Big Central Player of the Game, completing 21 of 39 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, though he did throw one interception. Miller will receive a custom game ball courtesy of Autoland at the end of the season.

Click below to hear Tim Catalfamo talk to Somerville head coach Dallas Whitaker after the game:

Somerville’s dynamic duo – Cookie and AJ – taking divergent paths after H.S., with big hopes for the future

One is taking a prep year more than 200 miles from the field where he wreaked havoc on opposing quarterbacks.

Not to be outdone, the other will travel about a thousand miles from the Gus Vanderbeek Athletic Complex to train with some of the best future college stars in the nation.

But both are looking toward big college futures beyond that.

The coronavirus pandemic left a lot of uncertainty in college football recruiting circles, unless you were being recruited by a big FCS school that played in the fall. Sure, schools like Rutgers had their share of question marks with the transfer portal, but an extra year of NCAA eligibility left a lot of FBS schools that played this spring with more questions than answers, and that trickled down all the way to high school, affecting guys like Somerville’s star running back Cookie Desiderio, and disruptive defensive end A.J. Pena.

Desiderio was named Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2020, averaging a touchdown every 5.8 carries, the best such ratio in the state. He’s going to the IMG Academy in Florida.

LOOK BACK: Cookie Monster! Somerville’s Desiderio named Big Central Offensive Player of the Year

Pena was named CJSR’s Defensive Player of the Year, with 44 tackles and 12 sacks in just seven games. He’ll be prepping at the Milford Academy in upstate New York.

LOOK BACK: A disruptive force, Somerville’s Pena named Defensive Player of the Year

We caught up with the pair recently, as we presented them with commemorative footballs marking their honors, as well as head coach Dallas Whitaker, who accepted the CJSR Team of the Year ball. The Pioneers finished 7-0, the only undefeated team in the Big Central Conference.

STELLAR SEASON: Somerville is Central Jersey Sports Radio’s first “Team of the Year”

Click below to hear Mike Pavlichko talking with Somerville’s Cookie Desiderio, A.J. Pena, and head coach Dallas Whitaker: