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Saturday, September 8, 2012
Recap: Andover 50, North Andover 35

By Andy Smith

ANDOVER, Mass. -- It all slipped away so quickly for North Andover.

For a half, it felt like the Scarlet Knights were going to have a pleasant introduction to the Merrimack Valley Conference. Then Andover outscored them 36-7 in the second half, on its way to a 50-35 come-from-behind victory.

North Andover opened up the scoring with a 17-play, 7:09 drive that set the tone for the quarter.

On the first play of Andover’s next possession, C.J. Scarpa was intercepted at his own 32-yard line, swinging the momentum back to the other team.

The Scarlet Knights (0-1) took control on the first play of their drive when quarterback Casey Walsh threw a bubble screen to the right to Robert Shkliew, who then threw it down the sideline to Tyler Whitley for the touchdown.

It had the makings of a long night for Andover (1-0), until Cam Farnham used his 4.5 40-yard dash speed to take the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown. In the blink of an eye, the entire complexion of the game shifted.

“On the opening kickoff, the hole was wide open, I just kind of hesitated a little bit,” Farnham said. “On the second kickoff, my blockers were phenomenal. I just saw a hole, and I wasn’t going to get caught there.”

That marked the third touchdown scored by both teams in just 26 game seconds. The action was fast and furious, and that was just the first quarter.

North Andover came back with a 5:23 touchdown drive, but again, Andover answered back, this time in less than a minute when Scarpa (14-of-23, 248 yards, five touchdowns, two interceptions) hit Andrew Deloury for a 47-yard touchdown.

Down by two touchdowns and kicking off after half, the game could have gotten away from the Golden Warriors. However, it was able to stall Walsh and the Scarlet Knight offense, forcing a punt.

That marked the beginning of the Andover onslaught, showing a much more put-together team than the one that was shown in the first half.

“I think the whole team was almost too confident in what we had done,” Scarpa said. “We, the five captains, did a great job of getting everyone together.”

The coaches staff knew the two touchdown differential was not insurmountable, and told its’ team as much at halftime.

“Going in at half, none of us really sulked, none of us really got down,” said Farnham (4 catches, 82 yards, 2 TD receptions, 3 overall). “Coach [E.J.] Perry brought us all in together, shut off the lights, said, ‘Hold each other’s hands, visualize winning this game.’ And we came out flying. Our defense was phenomenal and our offense made some big plays. We’re very happy with the outcome of this game.”

Many associate the start of September with the start of a new school year, as well as the unofficial start of fall. With that, it is assumed the temperature will drop, but that was not the case Friday.

The humid air lead to fatigue and cramping for players on both teams. It was evident in the second half when things began to unravel for North Andover.

In the first half, Walsh had time in the pocket to survey the defense and make a throw he needed to. In the second half, he was constantly under pressure from the Andover defense and forced into making throws he didn’t want to make.

Defensively, it seemed like the Andover receivers could get behind the defense at will by outrunning the defensive backs and make catches for long gains. Four of Scarpa’s five touchdown passes came in the second half. He also completed eight passes of 10 yards or more in the second half.

“I didn’t anticipate fatigue being a factor until around 5:00 p.m.,” Perry said. “It was still hot and muggy, so I knew that was bad.”

Farnham caught a bomb from Scarpa after giving a defensive back a stop-and-go double move down the right sideline that he was never able to recover from.

“All I had to do was run straight,” he said. “C.J. [Scarpa] made an unbelievable throw, literally right in my hands, and that’s all she wrote.”

Friday marked North Andover’s first game back as a member of the Merrimack Valley Conference. It was previously a member of the CAL/NEC conference. Even though it was their first league game against each other in quite some time, the two teams are more than familiar with each other.

It was the first game of the season for both teams, so there was already anxiety on both sides. Still, this game carried a little something extra.

“It carried a little more for us,” Scarpa said. “But that was a great team, they gave a great effort.”

“Absolutely it meant a little more,” Farnham added. “I mean, it’s North Andover, they’re five minutes down the street. It’s one of our biggest games besides the Turkey Bowl against Central Catholic. Just playing your rival the first game, it really means a lot more to you.

“Our practices were a little longer, and we really just had to get down to business. It’s just such a big game for us, and we’re all emotionally and physically drained, but coming out with a 'W' opening week, is awesome.”

One of the biggest questions, if not the biggest, entering this season for North Andover, was how would Casey Walsh be replacing his brother Brandon as full-time quarterback. He had experienced game action last season, but was never the starter for a full season.

He was 21-of-31 for 206 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. He also added eight carries for 44 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.

He threw 13 completed passes to start the game; his first incompletion did not come until the third quarter.

Perry came away impressed with the junior.

“Casey did a tremendous job in the first half,” he said. “I told him at the end of the game that I thought he was better than his brother, and I love Brandon, and I love Casey. But he was poised, and he did a nice job.”

The Andover defense had to make schematic adjustments from the first half to the second, which helped the team make its second half comeback.

“They were getting to the edge, and we just had to make sure the linebackers were getting in the right positions,” he said. “So we had them go to the outside more, and we just had to contain Casey.”


AND - 7 7 14 22 -- 50
NA - 14 14 7 0 -- 35

1st quarter
NA - Casey Walsh 1 yard run (Ryan Quinn kick good)
NA - Tyler Whitley 32 yard pass from Robert Shkliew (Quinn kick good)
AND - Cam Farnham 80 yard kick return (Mark Zavrl kick good)

2nd quarter
NA - Walsh 1 yard run (Quinn kick good)
AND - Andrew Deloury 41 yard pass from CJ Scarpa (Zavrl kick good)
NA - Glen Hartford 2 yard run (Quinn kick good)

3rd Quarter
AND - Cam Farnham 65 yard pass from Scarpa (Zavrl kick good)
NA - Matt Iannone 30 yard pass fromm Walsh (Quinn kick good)
AND - Farnham 10 yard pass from Scarpa (Zavrl kick good)

4th Quarter
AND - Deloury 4 yard pass from Scarpa (Zavrl kick good)
AND - Casey Walsh Safety
AND - Jack Sylvester 30 yard pass from Scarpa (Zavrl kick good)
AND - Zavrl 72 yard run (Extra point no good)