Brearley football preview – Bears expect to be in thick of things again

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Brearley is on defense here, at left, vs. Dayton.
Brearley is offense here, at right, vs. New Providence.

KENILWORTH – Brearley knocked on the door last year, the Bears were a solid team that finished 6-3, with all three losses by six points or less.
A battle of undefeated teams at New Providence went to the host Pioneers in overtime. After a win at home over South Hunterdon the Bears then fell at Dunellen 24-20 and narrowly missed qualifying in North 2, Group 1.
The season ended at home with a 19-13 consolation loss to Wood-Ridge.
A 5-0 start was highlighted by a big 17-14 win at Bound Brook, with Nino Principato kicking a field goal on the game’s final play.
With a team that returns eight starters on offense and five on defense – Brearley is bolstered by a strong junior class – longtime head coach Scott Miller expects his Bears to be in the thick of things once again.
“We have an opportunity to do some really good things here,” said Miller, now in his 18th season at the helm of the Bears.
Among the players returning on offense are juniors Dan Ramos at quarterback and Derek Graichen (over 600 yards rushing last year) at running back and senior Pete Siragusa at tight end.
“This year our offense should be more of a split,” Miller said. “Last year we ran about 75 percent of the time.
“After a year at quarterback Dan sees things in the passing game better. We’ll use a lot of formations based on our experience.”
Middle linebacker Michael Dotro has been a force since his freshman campaign. Now a junior, he continues to be a defender not many opposing ball-carriers can get by.
“Last year he missed three games and still led the team in tackles after also leading the team as a freshman,” Miller said. “We’re counting on him to excel and help us shut down the run game.”
Miller said that Siragusa and fellow senior Shawn Boyars – the ends – do a good job at keeping things in between the tackles.
“Our secondary is inexperienced,” Miller said. “We have a solid front seven, so we’ll expect teams to throw.”
Principato is a proven commodity at kicker.
“There’s no doubt he’s a viable weapon for us,” Miller said. “He’s been pretty consistent so far from a range of 35-40 yards.”
After Bound Brook tied the game late, Brearley came right back down the field on the road and Principato won it with his field goal. The New Providence game, obviously, could have gone either way, with the Bears hurt by a couple of interceptions.
“Pulling out the Bound Brook game was a credit to our kids for how they battled to the very end,” Miller said. “We had some young kids that made some sophomore mistakes against New Providence and hopefully we have learned from that.”
Miller, who turned 50 in April, has been a mainstay at a Group 1 program he grew up with. He has been the head coach at Brearley since 2002 and continues to be the longest-tenured head coach in Union County. He is also the Supervisor of Athletics at the Kenilworth school.
“My body is breaking down,” Miller said, a bit tongue-in-cheek. “I’ve never put a time frame into how many years I would coach. I’ve always said that I will coach as long as they will let me.
“I have a good group of coaches and a good group of kids and it continues to be fun for me. The passion is still there to see these kids develop into young men.”
NOTES: Brearley opens at home against Essex County Group 1 school Cedar Grove.
The Panthers, guided by fourth-year head coach Rob Gogerty, have gone 16-14 the past three seasons, including 6-4 and reaching the N2G1 semifinals last year.
“We were looking for a Week Zero game and I gave Rob a call and we set it up,” Miller said. “They graduated a lot of kids, but we know they have a solid program.
“It’s a good caliber opponent. It will be a good measuring stick for us to see where we are at.”

T Aiden Samila, junior, (6-6, 270)
G Michael Dotro, junior, (6-0, 225)
C Jonathan Braun, senior, (5-10, 185)
G Michael Padula, junior, (5-10, 230)
T Jake Krawczyk, junior, (5-10, 185)
T Bruce Harms, freshman, (5-9, 175)
TE Pete Siragusa, senior, (6-1, 225)
WR Shawn Boyars, senior, (6-5, 205)
WR Nino Principato, senior (5-7, 140)
QB Dan Ramos, junior (5-8, 155)
RB Derek Graichen, junior, (5-10, 170)
PK Nino Principato, senior, (5-7, 140)
Returning starters (8): Samila, Dotro,
Padula, Siragusa, Boyars, Principato,
Ramos, Graichen.

E Shawn Boyars, senior, (6-5, 205)
E Pete Siragusa, senior, (6-1, 225)
T Aiden Samila, junior, (6-6, 270)
T 5 kids rotating
LB Jonathan Braun, senior, (5-10, 185)
LB Michael Dotro, junior, (6-0, 225)
LB Derek Graichen, junior, (5-10, 170)
CB Matt Borges, senior, (5-9, 150)
CB John Gilligan, senior, (5-11, 150)
S Dan Ramos, junior (5-8, 155)
S Nino Principato, senior, (5-7, 140)
S Rigoberto Salado, senior, (5-11, 155)
P Nino Principato, senior, (5-7, 140)
Returning starters (5): Siragusa, Braun,
Dotro, Graichen, Principato.

Sept. 6 Cedar Grove, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Belvidere, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Dayton, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 Manville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Roselle Park, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Bound Brook, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 South Hunterdon, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 at Dunellen, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1 New Providence, 7 p.m.
Head coach: Scott Miller,
18th season

(H) Brearley forfeit vs. Highland Park
(H) Brearley 40, Dayton 0
(A) Brearley 42, Manville 12
(A) Brearley 17, Bound Brook 14
(H) Brearley 30, Belvidere 6
(A) New Providence 27, Brearley 21 (OT)
(H) Brearley 28, South Hunterdon 14
(A) Dunellen 24, Brearley 20
(H) Wood-Ridge 19, Brearley 13
Head coach: Scott Miller,
17th season
Section: North, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 36
Division: Union, 5-1
Record: 6-3
Home: 4-1
Away: 2-2
Points for: 211
Points against: 116
Shutouts: 1
Overtime: 0-1

Head Coach: Scott Miller, since 2002.
A 1987 Brearley Regional graduate.
18th season: 117-59-1 (.665)
Conference: Mid-State 36
Division: Union
Section: North, Group 1
Brearley’s last sectional title: 2006
2018: (6-3 and 5-1, second in Union Division)
Ward Field in Kenilworth: Grass
Miller has guided Brearley to the playoffs 12 times
in his first 17 seasons at the helm. His playoff record is
9-11, including an appearance in the Central Jersey,
Group 1 final in 2005, the North 2, Group 1
championship in 2006 and the N2, G1 final in 2015.
Last year’s team narrowly missed qualifying in N2G1.