The best players from Long Island will soon find out what the New York City starters already know. Keep an eye on John F. Kennedy’s Stephen Obeng Agyapong. If you have the ball and he is running toward you – watch out.
“He looks like a small guy, but when he gets on the field he turns into a totally different person,” Kennedy and NYC teammate Ozzie Garcia said. “When we are out here practicing, you see him coming down to hit the running back and they blow the whistle. You knew it was going to be a big hit.”
It is the thing the Penn State-bound free safety enjoys most about his position.
“That’s one of my favorite things to do,” Obeng said. … “They don’t see you coming and you just knock them out. Sometimes they do and you still knock them out.”
It is one of the many reasons the New York City team’s coaches and players believe he can be a game changer in the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge on Tuesday at Hoftra University’s Shuart Stadium. He has exceptional closing speed, great leaping ability and a nose for the ball.
“He has the ability to turn a game around with either a pick or a big hit, probably more a big hit,” Kennedy and NYC assistant Alex Vega said. “He’s a big hitter. You wouldn’t expect him to be that way. He can’t teach what he has inside of him. That’s one of those things he is born with. He has no regard for his body. He will throw all 180 pounds of himself into the pile, into a 220-pound running back with no problem.”
Obeng has slimmed down a bit since football season since he has been training for track and field and running often, something he said has helped him have excellent conditioning coming into this game. He is one of the top sprinters in the city and the anchor leg of the Knights’ 4 x 100 relay. During football season he also played running back and returned both kicks and punts.
“He is a real free safety,” New York City and Port Richmond head coach Lou Vesce said. “He knows how to play in the middle of the field. He is able to cover a lot of ground.”
Obeng will be back to football and school pretty quickly. He will start classes at Penn State on July 1, a standard practice for the team’s incoming freshmen. He will join former Knights Stephfon Green, Nerraw McCormick and Shaine Thompson in Happy Valley.
“It’s good for me since my brain is fresh and I’m fresh out of school,” he said “I jump right into the classroom.”
He also knows that he will need to jump into the weight room to get some bulk back in order to compete at the Division I level. But even with a slimmer version, some things don’t change.
“He is still the same player,” Vega said. “His aggressiveness is there.”