Pioneers Look for Share of BCC’s American Gold Division with Win
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – On Saturday afternoon, Big Central Gridiron will take a drive up to Kehler Stadium in Westfield to see the hometown Blue Devils in action against the Somerville Pioneers in a Big Central Conference American Gold Division clash. Somerville looks to get a share of the division title with a victory over Westfield.
The reason for Somerville’s opportunity for a share of the BCC American Gold crown was due to Elizabeth’s 28-26 upset win over division-leading Union at Williams Stadium in Elizabeth on Friday night. A win by Somerville would tie them with Union at 3-1 in the division. Union does hold a tiebreaker thanks to a 13-10 victory over the Pioneers at Brooks Field two weeks ago.
Last year was the first time in quite a while that these teams played each other. Somerville moved up from the Division 3 slate it had the first two years of the BCC, and lost to Westfield at Brooks Field (37-0). The Pioneers were in the midst of losing 4 of its first 5 games when the two schools met a year ago. Somerville enters today’s match-up at 4-2 under head coach Matt Bloom while Westfield has been up and down at 2-3 under head coach Jim DeSarno.
Both teams have defeated a common opponent in Elizabeth by slim margins. The Pioneers edged the Minutemen (17-14) at Brooks Field a week ago while Westfield nipped Elizabeth (23-21) at Kehler Stadium three weeks ago. However, the Pioneers defeated another common opponent in St. Joseph’s on the road (28-20) while Westfield lost to the Falcons (17-14) at Brenner Family Field last week. Somerville also only lost to Union by three while the Blue Devils were routed by Union (37-7) in Week 1.
Westfield lost its first two contests to the likes of 6th-ranked Watchung Hills (34-20) and 9th-ranked Union. The Blue Devils actually led the Warriors in Week 0 by a 20-0 score in the first half before Watchung Hills rallied. The Pioneers enter Saturday’s contest with a scoring total of 150 points or an average of 25 points per game. Westfield comes in with 95 total points or an average of 19 points per contest.
Meanwhile, Somerville yielded fewer points with only 95 points allowed through its first 6 games. Westfield has given up a total of 109. The Pioneers have given up an average of 15.8 points per game while the Blue Devils have yielded 21.8 points per contest. Both teams have played a tough schedule.
Thanks to its first two games against ranked opponents, Westfield has played a stronger schedule. Somerville opened its season with victories over Voorhees (41-7) and Old Bridge (33-14). Both the Vikings (4-3) and the Knights (2-5) have a combined record of 6-8. The Pioneers also played 2nd-ranked Montgomery recently and lost 27-21 at Brooks Field. Somerville will finish its schedule with fourth-ranked Hillsborough (6-1) and the BCC National Gold Division champ, South Brunswick (4-3).
Key players on offense for Somerville are junior QB Brenden Pacheco, RB Terrell Mitchell and WR Quinn Carran. So far this season, Pacheco has completed 74 of 132 passes for 1,235 yards and 12 TDs versus only one interception. Pacheco has also rushed another 27 times for 72 yards and another two TDs.
Mitchell has rushed 70 times for 333 yards, or about 4.8 yards per carry along with 5 TDs. Mitchell has also completed a pass for 18 yards, caught 24 receptions for another 260 yards and two scores, and returned 4 kickoffs for an average of 40 yards per return and a TD. Mitchell’s longest kickoff return was against Voorhees in Week 0 for 95 yards and a TD.
Carran, who has a brother Spencer Carran who does the placekicking duties, has caught 13 passes for 400 yards and 3 TDs. He has also been a contributor on defense with 26 total tackles and 2 interceptions. Spencer Carran has made 2 of 3 field goal attempts including a long of 47 yards, and also connected on 15 of 16 extra point attempts.
Meanwhile, on defense, the Pioneers are led by junior linebacker, Max Nuzzi and junior defensive end Jayden Loftin. Nuzzi leads Somerville with 29 total tackles including 19 solo tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. Lofting leads the Pioneers in tackles for loss with 6 and sacks with 4.5. Senior Dagan Jack has 25 total tackles including 16 solos, 3 for loss, and 2 sacks.
Westfield’s squad is led on offense by QB Max Cho, RB Josh Caramagno, and WR Enzo Ferreo. Cho, who scored a TD late in Westfield’s Thanksgiving Day win over arch-rival Plainfield last season, is replacing recent graduate Trey Brown at QB this year. So far in 2023, Cho has completed 54 of 80 passes for 599 yards and 4 TDs versus no interceptions. The Blue Devils finished 8-3 in 2022.
Cho has also rushed 9 times for 58 more yards and 2 TDs. Caramagno has rushed 79 times for 422 yards, or an average of 5.3 yards per carry along with 4 touchdowns. Caramagno has also caught 12 passes for another 58 yards and a score. Ferreo has tallied 14 receptions for 290 yards, or an average of 20.7 yards per catch along with 3 TDs.
Sebastian Magherini is another target for Cho in the passing game with 10 catches for 114 yards. On defense, the Blue Devils are led by senior defensive lineman Maxwell Romano with 2 sacks, and senior DB Steven Csorba, who has two interceptions. Nikolas Lukis does the placekicking duties for Westfield and has made his only attempt from 18 yards while making 2 of 3 extra points this season.
Many of the games in the BCC’s American Division have been close this season. Only Union’s 30-point win over Westfield was a game that was decided by more than a single score. The average margin of victory in division play has been 6.7 points per contest. Westfield is always tough at home, but the Pioneers have played better this year.
Prediction: Somerville wins, 21-10.