By Tom Szieber
Posted: Wednesday, October 3, 2018 7:15 pm
Lou Grasso knew as soon as he saw Andrew Sanborn throw a football that the youngster had the tools to be a great quarterback.
Sanborn was, after all, slinging 40-45 yard bombs while play in Union’s middle school program. People in town talked about Sanborn’s potential; Grasso concluded the talk was justified.
That potential is being realized week after week this year for Union, as Sanborn -- now a junior -- has emerged as a top-tier signal-caller in New Jersey. So far this season he has passed for 1,103 yards, throwing 10 touchdowns to just two picks. His presence -- as well as that of several talented skill players -- has transformed the Farmers into a pass-first squad that can light up the scoreboard.
He is the face of Union football, which is showing signs that it can make a run at a sectional championship this fall.
“A lot comes easy to him,” said Grasso. “But he has also grown and matured. He has worked and gotten better and better. He’s very athletic, very team-oriented and has a rocket arm.”
Sanborn finished 2017 with 3,015 yards through the air (a program record), with a 13-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He is a big-game player, as well, as shown by the three-touchdown first half he achieved against South Brunswick last week.
He is, of course, one of the primary reasons Union appears destined to escape the relative mediocrity in which the proud program has been mired over the past four seasons. Between 2014 and 2017, the Farmers have gone 19-23, not quite good enough for a program that has won 14 state sectional titles (10 during the playoff era).
However, he isn’t carrying Union on his own. He is fortunate to have prime targets in wide receivers Isaiah Stewart and Ahmirr Robinson, both big-play threats every time they touch the ball. Stewart, a senior, has already tallied 24 catches for 395 yards and 5 touchdowns, while the junior Robinson has 23 for 374 and 4.
Defensively, seniors strong safety Jacqu’e Cook and linebackers Michel Lucien and Isaiah Martinez have led a 4-3 unit that has allowed just 15 points per game in its three big wins over Linden, Phillipsburg and the Vikings.
In the end, Sanborn is the engine. But the rest of the car looks pretty good, too, and appears poised for one heck of a ride as November inches closer.
“We had a really good offseason and this senior class has really matured into a great group,” Grasso said. “I like how things are going. Our guys are just maturing at the right time.”
Tom Szieber can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.