Tag: Pioneers

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:

No. 2 Somerville upends No. 1 Woodbridge to remain unbeaten, hand Barrons first loss

Everyone said Ali Lee Jr. of Woodbridge needed a lot of carries and a lot of yards to beat Somerville.

They forgot about Cookie Desiderio.

The pair rushed 32 times each, but Desiderio’s 270 yards were the difference for the Pioneers, who finished the game with 19 unanswered points, as No. 2 Somerville remained undefeated (7-0) with a 39-26 win over No. 1 Woodbridge, handing the Barrons (5-1) their first loss of the season, in the “Big Central Game of the Week” powered by Bellamy & Son Paving.

Desiderio ran for the first score of the game – a 50-yard touchdown dash – and added a 66-yard run, 1-run yard, and a 40-yard ramble – the latter two of which came on a three-TD run by the Pioneers to tie the game with 11:13 to play, take the lead with 9:28 to go, and put it away 1:52 remaining.

Somerville QB Mike Miller was 13-of-28 passing for 141 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Jaimen Bryant had 9 catches for 128 yards as the Pioneers displayed a balanced attack.

Lee Jr. finished the game with 139 yards on 32 carries, and three touchdowns.

Click below to listen to the entire game:

1st Half

2nd Half