The Union and Plainfield football teams will clash Nov. 2 at Hub Stine Field after both will have played six games.
Although they are in different sections (Union in North 2, Group 5 and Plainfield in North 2, Group 4) and different divisions in the Mid-State 38 Conference (Union in the Delaware and Plainfield in the Watchung), it could be a pivotal game as far as both seeking to get back to the state playoffs: Union for the second straight season in N2, G5 and Plainfield for the first time since 2010 when it qualified for the only time in North 2, Group 3.
Longtime talent evaluator Dennis McCarthy has five seniors for you to take a look at that afternoon. These performers – he feels – could also excel at the next level.
Those standout players include offensive lineman Uchenna Egwuonwu, running back Jamauri Bogan and defensive back Agbai Iroha of Union and cornerbacks Steven Jones and Khaliq Harris of Plainfield.
They made McCarthy’s list of the top college-bound seniors in Union County for 2013. The McCarthy Report, edited by McCarthy, ranks the top players in all of New Jersey for all four classes – freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. McCarthy supplies those player ratings to more than 50 major colleges across the country.
Here’s a look at McCarthy’s Union County Top 11 for 2013:
1-Steven Jones, (6-0, 190), Plainfield, RB-CB: “Jones is a rugged, NFL-style running back,” McCarthy said. “He has speed and elusiveness and is a punishing runner. He’s also an outstanding cornerback and could also be a safety in college.”
2-Uchenna Egwuonwu, (6-4, 265), Union, OL: “He’s so athletic for a guy that size,” McCarthy said. “He’s Union’s left guard and pulls and leads the plays down field. He’s clearly a Division 1-A player.”
3-Jamauri Bogan, (5-7, 170), Union, RB-KR: “A game-breaker who can put points on the board and is also an outstanding kick returner,” McCarthy said. “The only negative on him are his injuries.” Bogan suffered an ankle injury in last year’s second game at Elizabeth that kept him out for a brief time.
4-Vin Banek, (6-2, 220), Johnson, LB: “A headhunter with a 4.0 grade-point average, he had 128 tackles last year, including 19 for losses, which is fabulous,” McCarthy said of the three-sport athlete who also excels in basketball and lacrosse. “He’s strong and also a pretty good tight end.”
5-Khaliq Harris, (5-11, 170), Plainfield, CB: “He’s not a big guy, but a complete cornerback-receiver,” McCarthy said. “He teams with Jones as one of the best cornerback combos in the state. He’s a very aggressive kid, kind of in your face, and he can run.”
6-Brian Matthews, (5-8, 175), Roselle Park, RB: “A great all-around athlete, Matthews has speed and quickness as a running back,” McCarthy said. “He’s a very competitive kid.”
7-Dante Raymond, (6-1, 195), Rahway, LB: “He typifies what a modern college-like linebacker looks like facing the spread offenses of today,” McCarthy said. “He has the foot speed to do that. He has the speed to cover a slot receiver.”
8-Kenneth Bass, (5-10, 225), Hillside, LB: “A tackling-machine at Hillside, don’t let his 5-10 size fool you,” McCarthy said. “He’s an instinctive linebacker and pretty good in pass coverage too. He’s all over the place.”
9-Dazzmen Johnson, (6-0, 185), Linden, Athlete: “I can see him playing receiver or safety in college,” McCarthy said of Linden’s returning quarterback. “As a quarterback I can see him going to a college that likes to use the read-option offense.”
10-Agbai Iroha, (5-10, 185), Union, DB: “Iroha’s a playmaker, a very active defensive back all over the field,” McCarthy said. “He’s a hard-nosed player who provides excellent coverage.” Iroha, who started at safety last year, and Bogan were two of Union’s four captains in 2012.
11-Rob O’Shaughnessy, (6-0, 290), Cranford, OL-DL: “He’s a sound lineman on both sides of the ball and moves very well,” McCarthy said. “He’s hard to move on defense.”