BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - The Gov. Livingston Highlander football team, fresh off their stunning 16-14 victory over three time reigning state sectional champion Hillside, will travel to Olcott Stadium in Bernardsville Saturday night to take on a veteran Bernards Mountaineer squad. The signature win over Hillside has now made Saturday's matchup with Bernards a crucial one, and in all likelihood a game that will define the team's season.  

Beating Bernards (1-1), an experienced senior laden team that has posted back to back 8-2 seasons will not be an easy task. However, if Gov. Livingston can come away with a win, it would not only mark the school's first 3-0 start since 2008, but would validate some of the accolades the Highlanders have garnered this past week.

The Courier News has moved Gov. Livingston in the Area’s Top Ten in the 6th slot and NJ.Com has the Highlanders ranked 10th in their statewide Group 3 rankings. With that recognition the Highlanders won’t be sneaking up on anyone the rest of the way, and be assured Bernards will be eager to take down their rival for potentially the Division 2B title in the newly formed Big Central Football Conference.

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GAME PREVIEW

Gov. Livingston (2-0) vs. Bernards (1-1)

Olcott Stadium, Bernards HS

October 17th, 7 p.m. Kickoff

Gov. Livingston’s win over Hillside was truly a total team effort, but it is no secret to opposing teams that Jayson Schmidt is the Highlander they need to stop. Schmidt, a 3-year starter on both sides of the ball has again proven how valuable a player he is. After rushing for over 2000 yards and 25 touchdowns the past two years, he has not missed a beat in the Highlanders two wins. On offense Schmidt has rushed for 196 yards and scored four touchdowns. As a defender from his linebacking position he is the team's leading tackler and against Hillside he registered a career high 15 takedowns. However, it was the first play of the Hillside game that this quintessential
team leader set the tone for the upset. On the opening kickoff Schmidt fielded the ball at the 10, and cut hard to his right through a pack of blockers and defenders. As he turned the corner hugging the sideline Schmidt took a direct hit at the 33-yard line, and without breaking stride, shrugged off the blow, sprinting the rest of the way for the 90-yard score. After Gov. Livingston surrendered the lead late in the game, Schmidt would lift his team once again. After being battered all day by Hillside's 8 man front, Schmidt answered the bell with two minutes left in the game when he put Gov. Livingston back in front with a 38-yard TD run.

Bernards, like Hillside, will stack the line of scrimmage and key on Schmidt. Victor Chait (15-69 yd. , 3 rec.-68 ,TD) last year's QB has shown he is a capable runner and receiver after moving to the backfield. Expect Chait to get more touches this week, with junior back Joe Riggi out of action due to injury. Gov. Livingston has settled on junior Connor Tracy (8-18, 85,TD) at quarterback. Tracy who attempted only 8 passes last week was under intense pressure on every one.  He most likely will need to put it in the air a bit more this week and will need his O-Line to hold off a stingy Bernards defense that returns 10 defensive starters. Tight ends Nick Richel and Matt Quinn, along with Chait will be Tracy’s primary receivers, possibly on quick hitters to free up Schmidt. Gov. Livingston's big boys up front, Luke Stallone, Peter Iossa and Zachary Glenn go both ways, and they took a pounding against the larger physical Hillside line. However, they gutted their way through, and when the game was on the line they were able spring Schmidt free for the winning score. They match up a bit better size wise this week, but Bernards coach John Simoneau will have his quick junior ends Nick Paterno and John Perling along with senior Brandon Krug primed to control the line of scrimmage.

Place kickers may be the difference makers in this one, with Liam Quigley handling the duties for the Highlanders. Quigley has connected on a 23-yard field goal 5PAT’s. Bernards kicker Steven Lopez has a big leg with a career long 43 yarder. Last season he hit 5 of 6 field goals and 33 of 35 PAT’s. This season he has drilled field goals from 34 and 28 yards.

Defensively, Gov. Livingston will have to deal with Bernards prolific QB Teddy Gouldin. A do it all field general, Gouldin has thrown for an incredible 3800 yards and 43 touchdowns in 22 games. This potential Ivy League recruit can pick apart opposing defenses with his arm but his running ability is equally as dangerous. Highlander cover men Tracy, Andrew Ciraco, Steve Manfreda will need to deal with speedster AJ Mino and Pat Caldwell who are Gouldin's down field targets this year. Colby College bound  Mino is a 4-year starter and has recorded the second fastest 100 time in school history. Gov. Livingston has tallied 5 picks this season with Chait leading the team with 3.  Gov. Livingston head coach Dan Guyton may assign a defender, possibly Chait, to spy Gouldin who can keep drives alive with designed runs or scrambles. Mike Leanza who led the team in rushing last year will get the bulk of the carries for the Mountaineers.

For Gov. Livingston to come out on top it has to hold onto the ball with long sustained drives and eat clock. Schmidt will be tracked by the state's second leading tackler last year Luke Burns along with his fellow senior linebackers Gavin Chieff, Jack Chisholm, and Paul Chironna. The experienced Mountaineer linebacking corp is quick to the ball and aggressive in pursuit. It will be interesting if there are any new wrinkles in the Highlanders Wing-T offense to slow down those backers. The Highlanders will need to play turnover free and minimize penalties. Against Hillside, they won the turnover battle 4-2 and capitalized on numerous Comet penalties.

Over the past two years the Bernards Mountaineers have lost four games, incredibly, three of them have been to Hillside. This season opened with Bernards dropping yet another heartbreaking 14-9 decision to their nemesis Hillside. The Mountaineers knew well before they took the field against Johnson Monday night that Gov. Livingston handed Hillside their first regular season loss in two years, something they desperately wanted to do.This Bernards senior class wants to win out. They certainly didn’t look past Johnson on Monday night as they built a 39-0 halftime lead en route to an easy win, but you know they were chomping at the bit to get a hold of Gov. Livingston. 

Gov. Livingston’s unlikely win over Hillside has put these two teams on a collision course. In this unpredictable season the 2-0 Highlanders have found themselves in some unfamiliar football territory, ranked and hunted. Be sure that Bernards will be ready.This one has the makings of a great game. 

Limited capacity is mandated . Unfortunately tickets will not be sold at the game. Please contact the Bernards athletic department at 908-630-3002 or email amalzone@shsd.org for ticket reservation.