UNION FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Farmers bring new cast anxious to take off

POSTER GRAPHIC COURTESY OF LOU GRASSO, JR. – The Union Farmers, with a rich history of talented players and a former legendary head coach in Lou Rettino – opens their 2017 season at Watchung Hills on Sept. 8. Union’s home-opener is Sept. 15 vs. Plainfield.
PHOTOS BY JR PARACHINI – Andrew Sanborn, a sophomore, is Union’s new quarterback.
Union quarterback Andrew Sanborn discusses strategy with head coach Lou Grasso, Jr. – at right.
Union’s offense (in white at right) lines up vs. Summit.
Union senior Chuck Ifewekwune (No. 1) is lined up at left end vs. the Summit cornerback he will try to beat.
Union head coach Lou Grasso, Jr. is in his fifth season at the helm of the Farmers.
Union has home dates vs. Plainfield, Westfield, Ridge and Hunterdon Central.

UNION – The Farmers played their game-scrimmage at Summit with the utmost confidence.

They scored on offense – guided by the passing combination of sophomore quarterback Andrew Sanborn to senior wide receiver Andy Martin – and they ran to the ball carrier on defense – led by senior linebacker Temilou Adanlawo’s athletic solo sack of the Summit QB.

A brand new Union cast – with a returning starter sprinkled in here and there – is riding high into its season-opener at Watchung Hills.

“We’re real experienced up front, which helps,” fifth-year head coach Lou Grasso, Jr. said. “We have some really good athletes who after getting some games under their belts will be dangerous.”

Sanborn made the varsity baseball team last year as a freshman and also played junior varsity basketball.

“He has a tremendous arm,” Grasso said. “He has the potential to really be fantastic. We have high expectations for him.

“He’s more of a drop back, but he also had the ability to run.”

One of Union’s few returning starters is Martin, who is looking to play collegiately.

“He has explosive speed and good ball skills,” Grasso said. “We think he’s going to be a real versatile threat. He’s a two-year starter who didn’t start playing football until his sophomore year.”

One of Union’s top players on defense with experience is senior linebacker Arthur Pinckney, who is one of four returning starters on that side of the ball.

Union switched from a 5-2 to a 3-4.

“He was All-Conference and our leading tackler last year,” Grasso said of Pinckney, who is getting looks from Division 1-AA and 2 schools. “He’s our record-breaking weight lifter in the weight room and he also has really good grades.”

Another returning starter on defense is senior tackle Madiama Ndiaye.

“He came up late last year and gained experience and has looked really good in the off-season,” Grasso said. “He has a real presence.”

Adanlawo has been in the program for four years and this is his first year as a starter.

“He’s really worked hard to get to where he’s at,” Grasso said. “We’re hoping that he takes his talent to the next step as a consistent performer.”

Westfield prevented Union from reaching the North 2, Group 5 final the past two seasons, with both games – in addition to last year’s regular season game – taking place at Westfield.

This year Union hosts Westfield for the first time since 2012, with the game scheduled for Oct. 6 at Cooke Memorial Field at 7 p.m.

Union last defeated Westfield in 2013 and last downed the Blue Devils at home in 2012.

The teams did not play each other in the regular season in 2014 and 2015 because they were in different divisions in the Mid-State 38 Conference.

Union and Westfield are once again two of the seven teams situated in the conference’s Watchung Division.

 

UNION’S MULTIPLE OFFENSE:

LT Chauncey Caffey, senior, (6-4, 235)

LG Excellent Asare, junior, (6-0, 285)

C Jose Rivera, senior, (5-9, 265)

RG Alex Acevedo, senior, (5-11, 255)

RT Bobby Emmanuel, senior, (5-10, 225)

QB Andrew Sanborn, sophomore, (5-11, 170)

RB Justin Peterman, junior, (6-0, 190)

RB Christian Murrell, sophomore, (5-10, 165)

FB Michel Lucien, junior, (6-0, 210)

FB Arthur Pinckney, senior, (5-10, 220)

WR Andy Martin, senior, (5-11, 170)

WR Chuck Ifewekwune, senior, (5-11, 165)

WR Aaron Myrick, sophomore, (5-9, 170)

WR Ahmirr Robinson, sophomore, (6-3, 170)

PK Max Cuenca, senior, (5-8, 155)

Returning starters (5): Caffey, Rivera,

Acevedo, Pinckney, Martin.

 

UNION’S 3-4 DEFENSE:

E Alex Acevedo, senior, (5-11, 255)

T Madiama Ndiaye, senior, (6-0, 270)

E JaQuan Robinson, sophomore, (5-11, 250)

ILB Arthur Pinckney, senior, (5-11, 170)

ILB Michel Lucien, junior, (6-0, 210)

OLB Justin Peterman, junior, (6-0, 190)

OLB Temilou Adanlawo, senior, (6-3, 210)

LB Isaiah Martinez, junior, (5-11, 210)

CB Chuck Ifewekwune, senior, (5-11, 165)

CB Camil Lewis, junior, (5-10, 175)

CB Aaron Myrick, sophomore, (5-9, 175)

S Andy Martin, senior, (5-11, 170)

S Elijah Rosendary, senior, (5-6, 175)

S Lonell King, junior, (5-10, 205)

P Andrew Sanborn, sophomore, (5-11, 170)

Returning starters (4): Acevedo, Ndiaye,

Pinckney, Martin.

 

UNION FARMERS

Head Coach: Lou Grasso Jr., since 2013.

A 1993 Colonia graduate.

Fifth season: 23-21 (.523)

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Watchung

Section: North 2, Group 5

Union’s last sectional title: 1993

2016: (6-5 and 4-2, third in Watchung Division)

Cooke Memorial Field: Field Turf.

Grasso has guided Union to the North 2, Group 5

semifinals three times in his first four seasons at the helm

of the Farmers. Grasso was previously an assistant coach

at Union before becoming the head coach at Roselle,

where he was also previously an assistant. Grasso was

the head coach at Roselle for three seasons in

2010 (7-3, playoffs), 2011 (6-4, playoffs) and 2012 (2-8).

 

UNION FARMERS 2017

Sept. 8 at Watchung Hills, 7 p.m.

Sept. 15 Plainfield, 7 p.m.

Sept. 22 at Elizabeth, 7 p.m.

Oct. 6 Westfield, 7 p.m

Oct. 13 at Franklin, 7 p.m.

Oct. 20 Ridge, 7 p.m.

Oct. 27 at Bridgewater-Raritan, 7 p.m.

Nov. 3 Hunterdon Central, 7 p.m.

Nov. 22 at Linden, 7 p.m.

 

2016 UNION FARMERS (6-5)

(H) Union 40, Watchung Hills 13

(A) Union 35, Plainfield 0

(H) Union 21, Elizabeth 7

(A) Westfield 28, Union 13

(H) Union 27, Franklin 10

(A) Ridge 34, Union 21

(H) Bridgewater-Raritan 24, Union 14

(A) Hunterdon Central 35, Union 7

(A) Union 41, Ridge 34 (2OT)

(A) Westfield 21, Union 7

(H) Union 34, Linden 12

Head coach: Lou Grasso, Jr.,

fourth season

Section: North 2, Group 5

Conference: Mid-State 38

Division: Watchung 4-2, third

Record: 6-5

Home: 4-1

Away: 2-4

Points for: 260

Points against: 218

Shutouts: 1

Overtime: 1-0

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