By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Newburgh’s Uh’Charion Hanson returned the opening kickoff of the season against Kingston for a touchdown and no team dared to kick to him again for the rest of the year.
When opponents saw Hanson prowling in the secondary, they didn’t even think about throwing the ball near him. On the other side of the ball, coaches cringed when Newburgh quarterback Terry Anderson looked for a sprinting Hanson on a pattern down the field.
Hanson, athletic, speedy and creative, was a force in every facet of the game for the Goldbacks. He created mismatches all over the field, helping Newburgh to its fourth consecutive Class AA title, and is the Section 9 Football Insider Player of the Year.
“Hanson is one of the most athletic kids I’ve seen across the board,” Monroe-Woodbury coach Ryan Baldock said. “He was arguably the best player on the field in every game. You wanted to know where Uh’Charion was at all times. He is a freak athlete. You see kids like him in North Carolina. You don’t see them around here.”
Hanson earned a reputation as a playmaker last season. He made 54 tackles and had four interceptions, returning two for touchdowns. However, Hanson gained even more attention by returning kickoffs for touchdowns against Pine Bush in the Class AA semifinals and Monroe-Woodbury in the championship. Kingston dared him on the opening kickoff of 2017 and Hanson returned it 85 yards for a touchdown.
Hanson, who is 6-foot-, 170-pounds , said he didn’t even start returning kicks until last fall. Playing safety, Hanson finished this season with 61 tackles, 11 pass deflections and three interceptions. Hanson also caught 15 passes for 415 yards and seven touchdowns.
“He killed us,” Minisink Valley coach Kevin Gallagher said. Hanson caught touchdown passes of 33, 66 and 72 yards in a 28-14 win over the Warriors on Sept. 8. “He has speed, he has size, he has everything. He caught the touchdowns against us, but we also had to keep moving our wide receiver away from him because we didn’t want him to lock him up. You had to watch Hanson at all times during the game. He is just a game changer.”
Hanson’s game is big and electric, but the senior remains modest and prefers to fly under the radar. Newburgh coach Bill Bianco describes Hanson as happy-go-lucky. He is a jokester, keeping the team loose, but is extremely competitive and works hard.
“Uh’Charion has never been a kid who is like look at me,” Bianco said. “He is humble and that’s why everyone likes him.”
Added Hanson: “I’ve never been cocky, that’s just not me. I’m just thankful for everything that I have and that will never change. I’m just trying to do my job and do it my best every time I take the field.”