A 1-on-1 with Union standout senior defensive end-tight end Mike Tverdov; The Rutgers commit sparked the Farmers to a dominating 35-0 shutout win at Plainfield

PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Union senior Mike Tverdov (No. 42), is considered one of the top defensive ends in all of New Jersey. He will continue playing in college at Rutgers.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Union senior Mike Tverdov (No. 42), is considered one of the top defensive ends in all of New Jersey. He will continue playing in college at Rutgers.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI - Union is led by the presence of three-year varsity starter Mike Tverdov, No. 42 in middle.
PHOTO BY JR PARACHINI – Union is led by the presence of three-year varsity starter Mike Tverdov, No. 42 in middle.

PLAINFIELD – The Plainfield quarterback didn’t know what hit him.
It was the classic blind side smack.
The defensive end comes unblocked and then unleashes a hit that not only knocks down the signal-caller who dropped back, but also jars the ball loose from him, eliciting an immediate, thunderous response from the crowd.
That was Union’s Mike Tverdov this past Saturday against Plainfield.
Two years from now – on ABC or ESPN – there’s a good chance you may see Tverdov chasing down the Ohio State quarterback in similar fashion.
“Never leave meat on the bone,” Tverdov said after Saturday’s 35-0 Union victory over Plainfield at Hub Stine Field.
One of seven team captains, Tverdov (6-4, 242) sparked a shutout defensive effort that prevented Plainfield from reaching Union territory and allowed just two Cardinal first downs, both in the first half.
“He has great intensity, is very quick and is very well-skilled with the use of his hands,” said Dennis McCarthy of his annual Dennis McCarthy Report, who ranked Tverdov as Union County’s No. 1 college-bound senior prospect.
Tverdov has been a fixture now for Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr. since the beginning of his sophomore season.
“Mike is one of those rare kids, a dominant player,” Grasso Jr. said. “He works his butt off. A player of his caliber doesn’t come around every year.”
The following is a 1-on-1 with the defensive end-tight end, who in the middle of July made it official by giving Rutgers his verbal commitment. Tverdov’s older brother Peter – Union Class of 2005 – was a standout player for the Scarlet Knights from 2005-2008 and before that a starter on Union’s 2003 team that reached the North 2, Group 4 final.
I know you want to win a state championship (Union has not captured one since 1993), but describe team goals? “Obviously, we want to be as perfect as we can be. Every week our goal is just to go 1-0.”
Union was called for 10 penalties in the first half against Plainfield, including five on one offensive possession alone.
“We can’t let that happen,” Tverdov said. “We have to correct that.”
Coming off last year’s success (Union reached the N2, G5 semifinals) what is the No. 1 thing this team needs to do in order to elevate itself? “Finish games. We had way too many penalties. We all have to give 110 percent and finish plays.”
Can you build off last year’s exciting come-from-behind playoff win at Piscataway and learn from the ensuing double-digit playoff loss at Westfield and season-ending setback to Linden? “We got way too caught up with the Piscataway victory. We have to have the same intensity and execution in every game.”
What about this year’s team? Is there the potential to go even further than last year’s squad did? “This year we know we have the team. We know we have the ferociousness. We just have to stay focused.”
Tverdov is a three-year starter who in 2013, as a freshman, watched the varsity from afar reach the North 2, Group 5 championship game. Four years ago Elizabeth won the first N2, G5 crown. Two years ago Linden won it. Last year Westfield captured the title.
More than anything, Tverdov wants to lead Union to the 2016 N2, G5 championship.
As a senior now your teammates continue to look up to you for guidance. How do you approach that? “It feels great to be in that position. We all have a lot of confidence coming off last year and there are leaders in the locker room.
“For me I went from the bottom to the top. In life nothing comes easy.
“We’re 2-0 now and the only thing on our minds is that we now have to shift all of our attention to Elizabeth and get ready for another big game.”

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