All-Star QBs Hairston III of Roselle and Oblachinski of Cranford seek to guide Union County squad into end zone often; Snapple Bowl XXIV kicks off July 20 at Kean

Proceeds benefit Edison-based Lakeview School, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities, and the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside

PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Union County All-Star quarterbacks include, from left, Gerald Hairston III of Roselle and Brian Oblachinski of Cranford.
Gerald Hairston III at left and Brian Oblachinski at right.
Gerald Hairston III of Roselle is one of Union County’s two All-Star quarterbacks.
Brian Oblachinski of Cranford is one of Union County’s All-Star quarterbacks.
Union County General Manager Scott Miller addresses the All-Stars following their Monday, July 17 practice at Union High School.

UNION – Gerald Hairston III led the Roselle Rams to a Union County-best 495 points.

Brian Oblachinski guided the Cranford Cougars to the third most points of any Union County squad last year, 358. Repeat North 2, Group 5 champion Westfield was second with 378.

Union County’s All-Star quarterbacks hope to lead their football team into the end zone quite frequently against Middlesex County’s best.

The MyCentral Jersey.com Snapple Bowl XXIV is set to kick off Thursday night (July 20) at 7 at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.

The event has raised more than $600,000 for charity since the first game took place at Union High School in July of 1994.

On Monday (July 17) the Middlesex County All-Stars visited the Edison-based Lakeview School, a program of the New Jersey Institute for Disabilities. The Union County All-Stars visited the Children’s Specialized Hospital in Mountainside.

All proceeds benefit those fine institutions and have since the inaugural game.

Practice for both squads continues Tuesday, with the annual pre-game dinner to be held at the Pines Manor in Edison Wednesday night.

It was quite warm on the practice field at Union High School for Monday’s Union County session and temperatures are forecasted to be in the 90s for Thursday’s game.

Hairston and Oblachinski seek to scorch Middlesex County, with the Union County All-Stars seeking a second straight win and to score more than 13 points, which has been its output the last two games.

Middlesex County leads the series 14-9 and won nine of 10 before losing last year’s game 13-7 at first-time site Woodbridge High School.

Union County last scored 20 points in the 2014 contest and its high of 28 was achieved only twice – once in a loss and another time in a victory.

“The coaching staff has been very welcoming and this is another chance to show what I can do at quarterback,” said Hairston, who guided Roselle to the Central Jersey, Group 2 semifinals his sophomore and senior seasons.

Last year Hairston led Roselle to its first 10-win season – the Rams defeated holiday rival Roselle Park on Thanksgiving to finish 10-1 – and became Roselle’s all-time leading passer in yardage, over 4,000, and touchdowns, 48.

“When I heard that I was chosen to play in this game I was very excited,” Hairston said. “I’m happy to be recognized as one of the best players in the county.”

The three-year starter at quarterback for the Rams will continue playing in college at Division 2 Lincoln University in Chester County, Pa.

“I just want to win the game,” Hairston said about this Thursday’s final high school challenge.

Hairston threw for 2,145 yards, 24 touchdowns and only three interceptions last fall.

He can smoothly drop back and just as easily advance his team by scrambling east and west.

“He has a really good arm,” said Union County coach Lou Grasso, Jr., who will be entering his fifth season at the helm of the Union Farmers after being the head coach at Roselle. “He’s more athletic than people think.”

This will be Oblachinski’s final football game before he moves on to continue his baseball-playing days collegiately at Montclair State.

Last fall Oblachinski, in his only year as Cranford’s starting quarterback, turned in one of the finest performances of any Union County player.

In leading a 3-2 Cranford team to a dominating 37-7 triumph at a 5-0 Summit squad, Oblachinski rushed for 215 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown and completed seven of 10 passes for 115 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

From his position in the secondary on defense, Oblachinski intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and batted away a fourth-down pass right near the goal line during the only time Summit reached Cranford territory in the first half.

“Summit is a big rival and we were ready and knew what to do on both sides of the ball,” Oblachinski said.

His pick-6 of 23 yards in the fourth quarter was the game’s final score. Cranford came into the game averaging 36 points, while Summit was averaging 34. Only the visiting Cougars were able to maintain their average.

“That interception pretty much sealed the deal,” Oblachinski said. “That was huge for our power points and making the playoffs.”

Cranford qualified in Central Jersey, Group 3 for the first time, but fell at eventual champion Rumson-Fair Haven in the first round.

“It feels great to have the opportunity to play in another game, especially since we lost our last game last year,” Oblachinski said. “I really looked forward to playing Friday night in front of a home crowd after a hard week of practice.”

Oblachinski was a back in Cranford’s spread offense in 2015 when the Cougars went 12-0 for the first time and for the second time captured North 2, Group 3. That year culminated with a very convincing 50-23 win over Chatham for the program’s second state championship in five seasons.

That game was played on a Friday night at Kean. That was the only other time Oblachinski played at Alumni Stadium.

“That was the best championship I ever won,” Oblachinski said. “Now to be out here with all this great talent is a lot of fun. Once you get to know the players it becomes easier and easier.”

“Oblachinski is a tough kid, comes from a winning program and is very versatile,” Grasso said.

A three-year starter in baseball and one of the top shortstops in Union County, Oblachinski helped lead Cranford to consecutive North 2, Group 3 championships his junior and senior years and as a sophomore the Cougars won their last UCT championship in 2015.

This year’s squad also advanced to another UCT final and to another Group 3 state championship game in Toms River where it fell to Allentown 5-1 in eight innings.

“It’s tough to give up football, but baseball is definitely my passion, I’ve been playing it since I was little,” Oblachinski said. “Playing at Cranford for Coach (Dennis) McCaffery was a great experience where a lot of life lessons were learned.

“When I visited Montclair State I loved it. It was the right decision for me.”

Both Hairston and Oblachinski have familiar targets to throw to. Drew Stephens of Roselle and Ryan Bakie of Cranford are Union County wide receivers.

Stephens had 1,000 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2016.

Bakie, who will continue playing at Bryant University in Smithfield, RI, was one of Union County’s top offensive threats the past two seasons. He finished his career with 72 catches for 1,321 yards and 15 touchdowns.

 

 

MIDDLESEX COUNTY ALL-STARS:

Sean Aston, (5-11, 200), Iselin Kennedy, OT

Andrew Brazicki, (5-11, 210), Bishop Ahr, RB

Quartius Byrd, (6-1, 190), Carteret, RB

Alex Cameron, (5-8, 155), East Brunswick, WR

Roderic Carson (6-2, 235), St. Joseph’s, Met., DL

Marcus Cerminaro, (6-0, 205), South Brunswick, LB

Carlton Coleman, (5-9, 230), Monroe, FB

Alain Diaz, (5-10, 260), Dunellen, OL

Brevin Donerson, (5-10, 170), Piscataway, DB

Da’Avian Ellington, (5-10, 190), Woodbridge, DB

Paul Ferralil, (5-10, 175), Old Bridge, DB

Jahsim Floyd, (6-8, 205), Sayreville, TE

Deonte Freeman, (5-10, 205), Perth Amboy, LB

Terrell Hagans, (6-0, 315), Piscataway, OL

Jalen Harris, (6-0, 175), Carteret, DB

Dillon Harris, (5-11, 210), South Plainfield, LB

Keshaun Henry, (5-8, 175), Spotswood, WR

Nasir James, (6-0, 175), Piscataway, DB

Jack Keenan, (5-10, 170), Spotswood, WR

Michael Lampasona, (5-11, 175), South Plainfield, OL

Tyler Layton, (5-10, 185), Colonia, QB

Dylan Leone, (6-0, 210), Woodbridge, OL

Michael Liberti, (5-8, 165), Sayreville, RB

Mike Matusz, (6-0, 195), Iselin Kennedy, LB

Naeem Morgan, (6-2, 220), Middlesex, LB

Ryan O’Shea, (6-0, 180), Highland Park, DB

German Pimentel, (6-5, 210), New Brunswick, DL

Michael Porcaro, (6-3, 270), Sayreville, OL

Bryce Priester, (6-2, 195), North Brunswick, LB

Keanu Reed, (5-9, 150), Edison, WR

Lance Rice, (6-0, 220), Edison, DL

Ibn Robinson, (6-3, 215), Piscataway, DL

Willi Rojas, (5-8, 175), Metuchen, DB

Jean Sapini, (6-0, 230), South Plainfield, DL

Louis Sasso, (6-0, 220), South River, OL

DeShai Smith, (6-3, 195), South Plainfield, WR

Ryan Szatkowski, (5-10, 165), Spotswood, PK-P

TJ Townsend, (5-11, 285), Old Bridge, DL

Justin Turner, (5-11, 160), Edison, QB

Anthony Villavicencio, (5-11, 275), Bishop Ahr, OL

Tristan Weathers, (6-0, 175), Colonia, WR

Kyle Wiggins, (5-11, 180), East Brunswick, DB

Luke Yakely, (5-8, 220), St. Joseph’s, Met., LB

Nick Yanik, (5-10, 175), Edison, WR

Tyler Zawacki, (6-3, 285), Colonia, OL

 

 

UNION COUNTY ALL-STARS:

Terrance Anderson, (5-8, 180), Rahway, RB

Nick Arcieri, (6-1, 215), Brearley, FB/TE

Justin Arnold, (5-11, 225), Roselle Park, DL

Ryan Bakie, (6-2, 200), Cranford, WR

Michael Barletta, (6-5, 210), New Providence, DB

Hudson Barth, (6-5, 250), New Providence, OL

Justin Beckett, (5-8, 175), Union, WR

Brian Biskaduros, (6-3, 250), Gov. Livingston, OL

Chris Bournes, (6-0, 235), Union, DL

Ben Collins, (6-1, 220), Gov. Livingston, LB

Sekou Diaby, (6-3, 250), Hillside, OL

Nick Fischetti, (6-0, 185), Johnson, RB

Christian Fusco, (5-8, 160), Summit, DB

Jeff Gagum, (6-1, 250), Westfield, DL

Robert Gaudenzi, (6-4, 235), Linden, OL

Adens Georges, (5-9, 170), Linden, DB

Matt Grange, (6-2, 240), Summit, OL

Gerald Hairston, (6-3, 220), Roselle, QB

Jordan Harris, (6-3, 240), Plainfield, DL

Tashaun Hutchins, (5-11, 265), Roselle, OL

Junior Jean, (6-1, 230), Roselle, DB

Jay’quan Johnson, (6-2, 245), Rahway, DL

Al-Tariq Jones, (6-0, 185), Union, RB

Steven Karas, (5-11, 175), Roselle Park, DB

Azir Lawson, (6-2, 205), Elizabeth, LB

Malalchi Mathis, (6-2, 205), Elizabeth, LB

Chris McCrary, (5-10, 170), Elizabeth, DB

Brian McGovern, (5-7, 180), Cranford, LB

Max Michel, (6-2, 205), Elizabeth, LB

Kevin Miller, (5-11, 175), Hillside, WR

Robert Moscicki, (6-1, 250), Brearley, DL

Izuchukwu Mozie, (6-0, 230), Scotch Plains, OL

Matt Murdock, (5-6, 155), Summit, RB

Brian Oblachinski, (5-11, 175), Cranford, QB

Brett Roessle, (6-1, 250) Johnson, DL

Kyree Rogers, (6-4, 165), Linden, WR

Vincent Rogers, (6-0, 295), Rahway, OL

Max Schwetje, (6-3, 265), Westfield, OL

AJ Smith, (6-1, 215), Rahway, FB-TE

Drew Stephens, (5-9, 170), Roselle, WR

Jerameel Taylor, (6-1, 215), Elizabeth, DL

Dan Tomlinson, (6-2, 285), Gov. Livingston, OL

Bryce Wilson (5-10, 205), Union, LB

Nasheem Woodard, (5-8, 170), Plainfield, DB

Kameron Yeldell, (6-1, 215), Linden, DL

 

 

SNAPPLE BOWL SCORES/MVPS:

 

2016: Union 13, Middlesex 7

MVP – Osaheni Okomaro,

Hillside, linebacker

At Woodbridge

 

2015: Middlesex 33, Union 13

MVP – Chase Fee,

Spotswood, running back

At Kean University

 

2014: Middlesex 34, Union 20

MVP – Matt Olivo,

St. Joseph’s, Metuchen, RB

At Sayreville

 

2013: Middlesex 30, Union 28

MVP – Abdel Ragab,

Edison, defensive end

At Kean University

 

2012: Middlesex 39, Union 15

MVP – Cody Zalasar,

Woodbridge, running back

At East Brunswick

 

2011: Union 28, Middlesex 6

MVP – Darius Mayers,

Roselle, running back

At Kean University

 

2010: Middlesex 28, Union 14

MVP – Mike Muha,

South Brunswick, quarterback

At East Brunswick

 

2009: Middlesex 24, Union 6

MVP – Michael Burton,

South Plainfield, cornerback

At Kean University

 

2008: Middlesex 14, Union 7

MVP – James White,

Piscataway, linebacker

At East Brunswick

 

2007: Middlesex 17, Union 10

MVP – Aireil Adams,

New Brunswick, wide receiver

At Kean University

 

2006: Middlesex 13, Union 7

MVP – Herbert Nieves,

Sayreville, defensive end

At South Brunswick

 

2005: Union 21, Middlesex 14

MVP – Chris Drechsel,

Cranford, quarterback

At Kean University

 

2004: Union 19, Middlesex 7

MVP – Jan Cocozziello,

Westfield, quarterback

At East Brunswick

 

2003: Union 13, Middlesex 0

MVP – Mike Vicci,

Johnson, quarterback

At East Brunswick

 

2002: Middlesex 28, Union 20

MVP – Zack Earvin,

South River, running back

At Kean University

 

2001: Union 17, Middlesex 16

MVP – Brandon Bracey,

Linden, defensive back

At East Brunswick

 

2000: Union 27, Middlesex 21

MVP – Billy Gilbert,

Elizabeth, running back

At Union

 

1999: Middlesex 28, Union 7

MVP – Jeff LeSeur,

Perth Amboy, wide receiver

At East Brunswick

 

1998: Middlesex 33, Union 7

MVP – Luke Cianello,

Dunellen, quarterback

At Union

 

1997: Union 28, Middlesex 7

MVP – Louis Campbell,

Rahway, quarterback

At East Brunswick

 

1996: Middlesex 21, Union 6

MVP – Kenny Rogers,

South Brunswick, running back

At Union

 

1995: Union 17, Middlesex 15

MVP – Jamie Allen,

Summit, wide receiver

At Sayreville

 

1994: Middlesex 35, Union 14

MVP – Khamisi Jackson,

Monroe, running back

At Union

 

 

SNAPPLE BOWL FACTS:

Series lead: Middlesex 14-9

Home team: 9-14

Road team: 14-9

Most points: Middlesex, 470

Least points: Union, 356

Shutouts: 1 – Union (2003)

5-game winning streak:

1- Middlesex (2006-2010)

4-game winning streak:

1-Middlesex (2012-2015)

3-game winning streak:

1-Union (2003-2005)

 

MIDDLESEX MVPs (14):

Monroe: Khamisi Jackson, 1994

South Brunswick: Kenny Rogers, 1996

Dunellen: Luke Cianello, 1998

Perth Amboy: Jeff LeSeur, 1999

South River: Zack Earvin, 2002

Sayreville: Herbert Nieves, 2006

New Brunswick: Aireil Adams, 2007

Piscataway: James White, 2008

South Plainfield: Michael Burton, 2009

South Brunswick: Mike Muha, 2010

Woodbridge: Cody Zalasar, 2012

Edison: Abdel Ragab, 2013

St. Joseph’s, Metuchen: Matt Olivo, 2014

Spotswood: Chase Fee, 2015

 

UNION MVPs (9):

Summit: Jamie Allen, 1995

Rahway: Louis Campbell, 1997

Elizabeth: Billy Gilbert, 2000

Linden: Brandon Bracey, 2001

Johnson: Mike Vicci, 2003

Westfield: Jan Cocozziello, 2004

Cranford: Chris Drechsel, 2005

Roselle: Darius Mayers, 2011

Hillside: Osaheni Omokaro, 2016

 

WHERE SNAPPLE BOWL

HAS BEEN PLAYED AT:

Union: Middlesex is 3-1

Sayreville: tied at 1-1

East Brunswick: tied at 4-4

Kean University: Middlesex is 5-2

South Brunswick: Middlesex is 1-0

Woodbridge: Union is 1-0

In Union County: Middlesex is 8-3

In Middlesex County: tied at 6-6

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