Tag: Dallas Whitaker

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: