UNION COUNTY, NJ — It was a quick 2023 high school football campaign in Union County, as none of the 17 football playing schools in the county reached a sectional state championship game.
The final two consolation games were played on Thursday, Nov. 9, with Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth, winning at Hackensack High School, 29-9 and Plainfield High School falling at home to Middletown High School South, 28-18.
The final two games of the season will be played on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 23, with Abraham Clark High School, Roselle, at Roselle Park High School and Westfield High School at Plainfield.
Despite a second straight season without a state champion — that’s the first time that’s happened concerning Union County since 2007 and 2008 — there were plenty of talented players doing their thing and performing quite well.
David McCarthy, co-founder and publisher of The McCarthy Report, a college scouting service of many of the top players around the state, said he sees a plethora of talent in Union County.
“This is a very strong year in Union,” McCarthy said. “This is the best I can remember for college prospects, if you consider all the
His No. 1-ranked player in Union County is Plainfield two-way senior lineman Josue Cordoba. The gifted offensive and defensive lineman helped the Cardinals produce their first winning season since 2005, first playoff season since 2010 and first home playoff game since 2001.
Plainfield (6-4) will host Westfield (5-5) on Thanksgiving at 11 a.m. at Plainfield’s Hub Stine Field.
Cordooda leads Plainfield’s defense in tackles with 55, sacks with 12 and interceptions with four. He also leads the offense in receiving yardage with 1,099 on 54 catches, eight of them touchdowns.
“It’s deep,” McCarthy said of Union County’s top talent. “There are about 10 of these kids, the 25 I listed, that are legit Football Bowl Subdivision prospects.
At No. 2 is Union High School’s Renick Dorilas, who ended his junior season by leading the Farmer offense in receptions with 35, receiving yards with 552 and receiving touchdowns with five.
Union senior running back Kordal Hinton, NO. 5, rushed for 773 yards on 104 carries and scored eight touchdowns.
Union junior quarterback O’Malley King, No. 8, threw for 1,283 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Those players helped the Farmers capture the Big Central Conference’s American Gold Division championship with a 3-1 division mark. Union reached the playoffs out of North, Group 5 for the fifth straight season and finished 5-6.
McNaully Erminal, No. 24, led Hillside High School in tackles with 80, while teammate Darren Ikinnagbon, No. 6, was first in sacks with five.
Rahway High School’s Andrew Avent, No. 15, paced the Indians in rushing with 733 yards on 163 carries and touchdowns with 11.
Tyler Kessel of Summit High School, No. 20, led his team in tackles with 133. So did linebacker Justin Hoeffler of Cranford High School, No. 23, with 77, including four sacks.
Although eventual champion West Essex High School overcame a 14-0 deficit to stun Summit, 27-17, in the North 2, Group 3 semifinal played at Summit’s Tatlock Field, Kessel was all over the gridiron for the Hilltoppers making several big tackles.
Perhaps the top defense player in all of Union County this year was Linden High School senior linebacker Myles Hamilton, who Morris Knolls had a tough time blocking in the North 1, Group 4 playoffs. Hamilton, No. 7 in this ranking, paced the Tigers with 155 tackles, 10 of them sacks.
Union County top college prospects
1-Josue Cordoba, OL/DL, (6-4, 265), senior, Plainfield High School
2-Renick Dorilas, WR/DB, (6-0, 175), junior, Union High School
3-Diego Rodriguez, OL, (6-6, 270), senior, Hillside High School
4-Marcus White, WR/DB, (6-0, 190), senior, Hillside High School
5-Kordal Hinton, RB/LB, (6-0, 220), senior, Union High School
6-Darren Ikinnagbon, EDGE, (6-6, 215), junior, Hillside High School
7-Myles Hamilton, HB/OLB, (6-3, 210), senior, Linden High SChool
8-O’Malley King, QB, (6-5, 195), junior, Union High School
9-Marquis Diggs, DB, (6-0, 180), senior, Rahway High School
10-Chris Rossetti, LB, (6-1, 205), senior, Westfield High School
11-Joel Cordoba, WR/DB, (6-1, 175), junior, Plainfield High School
12-Zach Menon, OL/DL, (6-3, 255), senior, Union High School
13-Kinte Warnock, OL/DE, (6-5, 250), senior, Union High School
14-Talibi Kaba, RB, (6-3, 205), junior, Hillside High School
15-Andrew Avent, RB/OLB, (6-2, 200), sophomore, Rahway High School
16-Tequan Thomas, RB, (6-0, 165), senior, Linden High School
17-Roneil Romain, RB/OLB, (6-1, 195), junior, Union High School
18-Kervin Desir, OL/DL, (6-4, 260), junior, Union High School
19-Julian Montez, OL, (6-6, 285), senior, Westfield High School
20-Tyler Kessel, LB, (6-1, 215), senior, Summit High School
21-Ibn McDaniels, WR/DB, (6-3, 185), senior, Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth
22-Arique Flemming, QB, (6-2, 175), freshman, Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth
23-Justin Hoeffler, LB, (6-1, 225), junior, Cranford High School
24-McNaully Erminal, DB, (5-10, 170), senior, Hillside High School
25-Callum Fynes, DB, (6-0, 175), sophomore, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School
Photo by JR Parachini