Tag: Jon Simoneau

Bernards erases first half deficit, pulls away from Hillside for 28-12 road win

Until Jonas Gonzalez got Bernards on the board late in the first quarter at Conant Street Park Saturday afternoon, things weren’t going well for the Mountaineers.

But in the end, Bernards took control of the game, picking up a 28-12 victory to start the season 2-0.

Hillside (0-1) opened the scoring with a 19-yard touchdown run by Talibi Kaba, then Bernards fumbled in the red zone on the ensuing possession. Talk about inauspicious starts.

But they hung in there, and after another TD by the Comets – a five-yard run by Chibugo Chigoze-Nwosu early in the second quarter – slowly, but surely, climbed back into the game and eventually took the lead.

There was a four-yard touchdown run by QB Connor Laverty to cut it to 12-9, then a 24-yard field goal by Gonzalez to know the game at 12 heading into the locker room.

Click below for postgame reaction from Marcus Borden with Bernards senior quarterback Connor Laverty and head coach Jon Simoneau, sponsored by Sportsplex at Metuchen:

And Bernards continued in the third quarter. Laverty hit Jack Morra with a ten-yard TD strike to make it 18-12, with the PAT blocked – their second of the day, while Hillside also had one blocked in the first half. Another field goal and touchdown – while holding the Comets scoreless in the second half – made the final 28-12.

Bernards rallies twice to hand Del Val first defeat, take back Mountain Valley trophy, with 17-14 win

It was a tale of two halves for Bernards at Tapp Webb Memorial Field out in Hunterdon County Friday night, in a game heard live on Central Jersey Sports Radio.

The offense just couldn’t put points on the board in the first 24 minutes, managing just a 31-yard field goal by Jonas Gonzalez that left Bernards down 7-3 going into the locker room after Delaware Valley had opened the game with an eleven-play scoring drive to take an early lead.

Typical was a 14-play drive by the Mountaineers that ended the first half without a score.

But with the first possession of the second half, Bernards got a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Connor Laverty to Enzo Britez to take a 10-7 lead, their first TD of the game. The Terriers defense had been settling in to that point, but all of a sudden in looked like Bernards might hold.

Patrick Garlinghouse came out of a pile – almost going down to a knee – and sprinted the remaining 45 yards of a 50-yard touchdown run to give the Terriers a 14-10 advantage with 6:10 to play, but the awakened Mountaineer offense wasn’t done yet.

They put together a seven-play, 71-yard drive, in just 2:40, scoring with 3:24 to go on a two-yard leap into the end zone by Laverty, and after getting the ball back on a four-and-out turnover on downs, picked up a critical first down on fourth down on their next possession to allow Laverty to take a couple of knees to run out the clock.

The defeat was the first of the year for Del Val, which fell to 3-1, while Bernards improved to 4-1, all but giving them the Patriot Gold Division title. They are 3-0 in the division with one game left against winless Bound Brook (0-4), which scored its first points of the year Friday night in a 41-6 loss at Voorhees. The Crusaders have been outscored 110-6 in their first four games.

Click below for postgame reaction with Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko:

Bernards junior quarterback Connor Laverty
Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau

Bernards clicking ahead of “Mountain Valley” rivalry game at Delaware Valley

Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau is well aware of what lies ahead Friday night as his Mountaineers visit division rival Delaware Valley: the 30-mile trip, an elite home field advantage, and an explosive Terriers’ offense. But make no mistake, Bernards is embracing the challenge.

“We kind of like that,” Simoneau said. “It’s fun to be the bad guy sometimes.”

The Mountaineers (3-1, 2-0 Big Central Patriot Gold) are clicking ahead of Friday’s Big Central Game of the Week against Del Val (3-0, 1-0 Big Central Patriot Gold). In back-to-back weeks, Bernards captured 35-0 road wins over South River and Voorhees.

Mike Pavlichko and Justin Sontupe will call all the action, with pregame at 6:45 and kickoff at 7:00. Click here to listen.

Junior quarterback Connor Laverty tossed three touchdown passes at South River, and then bested it with four at Voorhees. The defense hasn’t allowed a score since the fourth quarter against Hillside — three weeks ago.

But undefeated Delaware Valley will provide a stiff challenge. Bernards has beaten Del Val just four times in 15 tries, and all four wins came between 2018 and 2020, the latter of which is their only “W” in Alexandria. Last season, Bernards turned the ball over six times in a two-score loss off Senator Stout Road.

For the Mountaineers, it’s going to take a complete performance. Laverty is off to an outstanding start to the season under center, and he has numerous weapons at his disposal. Running back Nick Kouflie (5 touchdowns) and wide receiver Enzo Britez (3 touchdowns) are threats to score any time they touch the ball.

On defense, linebackers Charlie Gonnella and Kai Dallimore lead a unit that has allowed more than 6 points just once this season.

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau:

Bernards finally takes down a South Jersey team, stifles Overbrook 21-6

It’s not often Bernards plays a team from South Jersey, but it’s been a trend in recent years with the new playoff format since 2018.

In 2019, they lost in the opening round 50-10 at Cedar Creek. Last year, the Mountaineers dropped their opener in the Battle of the Beach in Ocean City to Penns Grove 40-20, then got knocked out at home in the second round of the the playoffs, 24-14, by Haddonfield.

So head coach Jon Simoneau challenged his team by bringing in Overbrook, a team that went 8-2 last year and brought back a junior quarterback in DeAngello Conquest who threw for over 1,400 yards last season as a tenth-grader.

Challenge accepted. Mission accomplished.

Bernards topped Overbrook 21-6 with stifling defense – including a couple of interceptions by Daniel Ferguson, and another each from Nicholas Kouflie and Max Austin – and got enough offense for the win. Three different players scored, including a two-yard keeper by Connor Laverty and a three-yard score by Terrance Hanratty – both in the first quarter to stake the Mountaineers to a 14-0 lead – and a five-yard run by Jake Caldwell to give Bernards breathing room at 21-6 after the Rams got it to within eight points.

Click below for postgame reaction from Bernards’ 21-6 season-opening defeat of Overbrook:

Juniors Connor Laverty and Jake Caldwell
Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau

Turnovers plague Bernards in semifinal loss to Haddonfield

No turnover is good. Some come at less disastrous times than others.

The four Bernards committed Friday night all came at the worst possible times.

And they wound up costing the Mountaineers dearly, as the second-seeded home team lost 24-14 Friday night to third-seed Haddonfield at Olcott Field, as heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Big Central Game of the Week, driven by Autoland.

The first came on a well-executed opening drive of the game, as Bernards was marching downfield at will. Junioor Nick Kouflie fumbled as he ran down the left sideline, and the ball bounced right into the hands of Haddonfield’s Charlie Klaus, who returned it into Mountaineer territory/ They would quickly score to go up 7-0.

Bernards tied it up, Haddonfield went ahead again, but Bernards tied it again, and into the locker room they went tied at 14 apiece.

In the second half, Bernards defense was “bend but don’t break,” allowing a field goal that put the Bulldawgs up 17-14. But then on back-to-back possessions, the ‘Neers’ two quarterbacks each threw picks. And one more came on the final possession after Haddonfield couldn’t get one last first down to run out the clock.

Bernards finishes 8-3 on the season.

They also played the game without feature back Michael Leanza, who missed the last three full games of the season after suffering a fractured tibia against South River. Friday’s game was Bernards’ first loss with Leanza out of the lineup.

Click below for postgame reaction from Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau:

Bernards hoping Leanza is back for sectional semis, but still confident

Bernards senior runningback Michael Leanza was leading the state with well over a thousand rushing yards when he went down with a leg injury.

He hasn’t been back since.

The Mountaineers haven’t lost since, either.

But while junior Nicholas Kouflie has filled in quite ably – scoring in all three games Leanza has missed – head coach Jon Simoneau still wants him back when the second-seeded Mountaineers (8-2) take on third-seed Haddonfield (7-2) in the Central Jersey Group 2 semifinals at home Friday night, in the Big Central Game of the Week driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Game time is at 7:00. Mike Pavlichko and Max Scheiner will call all the action live from Olcott Field in Bernardsville, with pregame set for 6:45. Click here to listen.

Simoneau says Leanza hopes to learn soon if he’ll be cleared to play.

Click below to hear head coach Jon Simoneau talk about his team and their matchup with Haddonfield:

Bernards escapes Bound Brook upset bid, holding on for slim 28-27 win

The visiting 7th-seeded Crusaders nearly became the second 7th-seed in the Big Central to score an upset in the opening round of the state playoffs Friday night.

Bound Brook jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, but Bernards climbed back into it, and hung on for a 28-27 win over their visitors at the bottom of the Watchung Mountains.

But it wasn’t without a little good fortune and good defense that the Mountaineers (8-2) advanced to the second round in the Central, Group 2 playoffs.

Connor Laverty put Bernards ahead 28-21 with his second touchdown of the game, but after Bound Brook quarterback Patrick LePoidevin got the Crusaders within a point, their extra point missed, leaving the score 28-27.

And, still, the Crusaders had one more chance with under a minute left, but an interception by Enzo Britez sealed the deal.

Bernards (8-2) moves on to play third-seed Haddonfield next Friday night at 7, on the road. The Bulldagws beat third-seed Middle Township Friday night 34-7.

Click below to hear Bernards High School student sports reporter Matthew Lesnik talk with Mountaineers’ head coach Jon Simoneau after the game:

Leanza, Bernards ground and pound Hillside en route to 14-7 win

Bernards came out of the box playing ball control offense Sunday afternoon, and though it wouldn’t pay off until after halftime, the result was a 14-7 victory over the Comets in the first part of a doubleheader “Big Central Game of the Week” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

In a game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio, the victory by the Mountaineers in the “Rumble on the Raritan” was their first against Hillside since September 23, 2016, almost five years. That was a string of five losses over the four previous seasons, including twice in 2018, in the regular season and the playoffs.

Bernards controlled the ball for nearly the first ten minutes of the game, and had a major advantage in time of possession the entire game, holding the ball for almost 34 of the 48 minutes, though they trailed 7-0 at halftime after a Caleb Salters 81-yard touchdown pass to Justin Mays.

But Bernards would score a pair of unanswered touchdowns in the second half. Quarterback Connor Laverty threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brady Walsh just past t he midway point of the third quarter, while Chris Dietrich broke the tie and put the Mountaineers ahead for good with 8:36 remaining on a one-yard touchdown run, capping a nine play, 47-yard drive in 3:09 of game time.

Bernards moves to 1-1, while Hillside drops to 0-1.

Though he never reached the end zone, Michael Leanza was the workhorse all day for Bernards, grinding out 150 yards on 37 carries an average of 4.1 yards per touch. Leanza was named the Big Central Player of the Game, and will receive a custom game ball at the end of the season, courtesy of Autoland. He was also named the Rumble on the Raritan game MVP.

Click below to hear Bernards HS student Matt Lesnik with postgame reaction from Leanza and head coach Jon Simoneau:

Senior runningback Mike Leanza

Head coach Jon Simoneau

Bernards looks to get off schneid against No. 10 Hillside in “Rumble on the Raritan” Rivalry Game

Bernards High School football has lost just six games over the last three-plus seasons, tallying 24 wins over that same timeframe. But four of those losses have come at the hands of one foe: Hillside, who Bernards prepares to battle Sunday afternoon in the Rumble on the Raritan at SHI Stadium.

It’s Game One of Central Jersey Sports Radio’s season-opening “Big Central Game of the Week” doubleheader, driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

Coverage begins approximately 1:45 pm on Central Jersey Sports Radio, with Mike Pavlichko hosting the pregame show. Justin Sontupe and Tim Catalfamo will call the action, with Bernards sports broadcasting student Matt Lesnik joining the broadcast as well. Kickoff is scheduled for 2p. Click here to listen to the game live.

“They’re just a very good football program,” said Bernards Head Coach Jon Simoneau. “They just happen to be in our league, so we have to play a very difficult team. They’ve all been close games.”

Bernards will have a golden opportunity to change that narrative Sunday afternoon in front of the Rumble on the Raritan crowd. But it won’t be easy. The Mountaineers are replacing a senior starter at quarterback in Teddy Gouldin and 2020’s leading receiver, Pat Caldwell. In Bernards’ season opener last week at Penns Grove, the Mountaineers struggled following a mid-game weather delay, falling 40-20.

Mike Leanza will be the focal point of Bernards’ attack. The senior running back led the team in rushing last season and ran for 146 yards and a score in the season opener.

At stake Sunday is the chance to snap the skid against No. 10 Hillside and avoid opening the season 0-2 for the first time since 2017. But if the last few years are any indication, one can expect Bernards to be prepared for the challenge.

“We’re past this as a program, saying we are in a rebuilding year,” Simoneau said. “Everything at this point is a reloading year. Seven wins is the goal.”

Click below to hear Justin Sontupe talk with Bernards head coach Jon Simoneau about his team and the Rumble on the Raritan contest against Hillside:

This Week in the Big Central – Episode 2: The Sitkowskis

Week Zero is in the books, and the bulk of the Big Central opens up this weekend on Week One, unless Ida’s aftermath has anything to say about it.

Either way, it’s time for Episode 2 of “This Week in the Big Central,” driven by Mark Montenero and his team at the world-famous Autoland.

This Week on TWiBC, Mike Pavlichko talks to former Rutgers and Old Bridge quarterback Art Sitkowski, who came off the bench to rally Illinois to a season-opening win over Nebraska.

Then, he’s joined by NJSIAA Executive Director Colleen Maguire to talk about her first year at the helm as we head into 2021-22.

Finally, it’s a look at the official NJSIAA football classifications, released Wednesday, and a peek ahead at the weekend’s games.