Competing in the rigorous Merrimack Valley Conference is always a struggle; however, when you have a young team it becomes that much more difficult. This fact became quickly evident to the Andover High football team after a rough 2-3 start to the season.
After starting out the season with a triumphant overtime defeat of conference rival North Andover the team dropped the next three games. The first defeat came at the hands of non-conference opponent B.C. High. The following two losses came against Central Catholic and Chelmsford. Following those routs, the team responded resiliently with a 36-7 win over Billerica.
Although the team has been over-matched in conference play thus far, there are several positive things that Coach EJ Perry was able to point out. He explained, “For being such a young team both offensively and defensively we have [played] these teams hard. The expectations throughout the league for Andover football are high after having won the conference championship in three out of the last four seasons.”
Perry also noted that this year’s group of seniors have done a great job of modeling what it means to be an Andover High Football player. He explained, “Matt Sutliff and Ben Hartford have done a great job with building a collective team atmosphere that other players are willing to buy into.” He also noted that the other two captains, Pat Shea and Jack Sylvester, have done a great job during the off-season.
Senior John Nevin explained, “There were workout sessions for strength and conditioning run by the captains. They really seemed to help a lot as we all came into the season in good shape. Obviously for the seniors you want to make the most of your last season on the team.”
Senior Xavier Briggs noted, “Although there have been obvious setbacks, I think we have responded well and played resilient football.” The team displayed this resiliency by fighting back after two straight lopsided defeats and beating Billerica on the road last Friday night. Nevin noted, “That one was big for us, in terms of getting us on the right track, but we still have a long way to go.”
Although the season has started out roughly, the team is optimistic and will be looking for win number three on Friday night as they take on out-of-state foe LaSalle Academy. The game will be preceded by a large tailgate sponsored by AYS. In addition, the game will serve as the first event for the student fan group The Jungle.
Perry explained, “The fan base has been great thus far. I know our first three home games were disappointing but this coming Friday is going to be a special one. I ask that the students continue to come out and support the team.”
By Steven Kimball