Boston High School: E.J. Perry

D1 North: Masconomet 52, Andover 47

March, 1, 2014
Mar 1
TOPSFIELD, Mass. -– For almost the entire first half and most of the second half of this MIAA Division 1 North quarterfinal, No. 3 seed Masconomet outplayed No. 6 seed Andover, but they couldn’t pull away because of the fearlessness from the visiting Warriors.

That is, until Masco junior Meghan Collins took things into her own hands.

She hit a clutch jumper to put her team up 46-42 with 35 seconds left. Then on the ensuing Andover possession, she forced a steal that led to a layup putting the Cheiftains up 48-42 with 23 ticks remaining, all but sealing Masco’s 52-47 win before a standing room only crowd at Masconomet High.

“That was a great shot Meghan made. That little kick out that put us up four because we were teetering a little bit there, we were teetering,” said Masco coach Bob Romeo.

The Chieftains led 36-28 going into the final quarter, but Andover wouldn’t go away, scoring the first five points of the quarter making it a one-possession game at 36-33. Andover freshman Alyssa Casey scored seven straight points for the Warriors, making it a 42-40 game with just over a minute left, but that was as close as the Warriors would come.

“We got it up to 12 at one time, but we never let it get to a tie. We never let them get a tie and that’s so big,” Romeo said.

The first half was dominated by Masco, as they limited Andover to just 13 points, including just four in the second quarter to lead 18-13 at the break.

“It was just a tremendous game and a tremendous effort by both teams,” Andover coach E.J. Perry said. “My hats off to Romeo. He did such a nice job especially in the first half holding us to 13 points. I had two freshman that played significant time in the first half. It’s their first experience in a packed house and that type of intensity, but by the second half they did such an unbelievable job.”

It was Masco’s tenacious, in-your-face defense, which didn’t allow Andover to get an easy basket virtually the entire game. The Chieftains held a 27-15 lead midway through the third quarter; but to Masco’s credit, even when Andover made a game of it late, they stepped up and made the big play.

“They made a couple big plays and that’s what good teams do, they make big plays down the stretch,” Perry said. “My team did everything they could to get it to 44-42, but they responded. You just tip your cap and learn from it for next year and come back a better team.”

The Warriors were led by Casey, who had 14 points, followed by junior Colleen Caveney and senior Jessica Witten who each had nine.

It was a balanced attack for Masco with junior Kate Kitsakos leading all scorers with 18 points, and Collins adding nine. Senior Hannah Kiernan, freshman Stephanie Mini and senior Nicole Femino all contributed seven points.

With the win Masco advances to play Central Catholic in the Division 1 North semi finals. For good reason it won’t be easy, but Saturday’s win over Andover, also a Merrimack Valley power, will give them some momentum going into the game.

“We played Andover tonight and then Central Catholic whenever they schedule it. They’ve won the last five Division 1 state championships between them. So we got the first one and I can’t wait to see what happens with the next one,” said Romeo.

Recap: Central Catholic 44, Andover 18

November, 28, 2013
LAWRENCE, Mass. – Central Catholic’s Cody Demers earned his turkey, all of the sides, and two slices of pie.

The senior scored a pair of touchdowns, racked up 266 total yards, including an 86-yard interception return that salted the game away, as Central Catholic rolled past Andover 44-18 in front 2,500 people at Lawrence Stadium.

“A lot of the newspapers thought we were going to look past Andover so we wanted to come out early and definitely win this game,” Demers said. “We didn't want to look past this team. Nothing would satisfy them more than to beat us on our field on Thanksgiving.”

Demers' interception came after he read a screen pass perfectly out of E.J. Perry's hands, scooped it off the ground and sprinted down the sideline. Perry forced Demers out of bounds at the two.

“I saw someone coming out in the flat, he overthrew him and I picked it off,” Demers said. “I got into the footrace with the quarterback. Huge momentum change for our team especially when they're driving like that. I'm not going to lie, I started cramping towards the end.”

Andover put together a 98-yard drive for a touchdown to score first, but after that it was all Raiders. Central scored three touchdowns and controlled the line of scrimmage to take a 24-6 lead into the half.

Demers stole the show, reeling in a 36-yard touchdown pass from Mike Milano and running 80 yards on a sweep for another score.

“He's a big-play guy,” Central head coach Chuck Adamopoulos said of Demers. “When we needed a little giddy up on offense he came through with a big play. The kid's love him. He's a scraper; he's a tough little bugger.”

Milano was economical with his passes, but each one played a key role in Central's win. Milano only completed six balls but two of those were for touchdowns and three others went for first downs.

Milano also added a winding 30-yard touchdown run.

“He's just a gutsy, clutch kid,” Adamopoulos said of Milano. “He's just a junior. I'm happy we've got him back next year.”

After Andover's touchdown in the first quarter the Raider defense locked down. The running attack of Oliver Eberth and Jack Sylvester could not get through Central's front seven until late in the game when Adamopoulos had benched his starters.

Adamopoulos said that holding contain was the key and that his team did that.

“Discipline on defense on your backside pursuit has to stay along the line of scrimmage,” Adamopoulos said. “The wind was a factor; when you were against it it was hard to throw the ball.

“The key was control the third quarter and we did that. The kids did a good job. Our defense has continued to play well.”

Even in the postgame celebrations the word “Xaverian” was rarely heard as the Raiders wanted to savor beating their archrival.

“It's the seniors last time on this field,” Demers said. “We wanted to leave our mark.”

Recap: No. 14 Central Catholic 26, Andover 7

September, 28, 2013
ANDOVER, Mass. – “Nice bounce back win,” Central Catholic head coach Chuck Adamopoulos told his team after the game.

After dropping a 40-21 contest to St. John’s Prep last week, No. 14 Central Catholic (3-1) rebounded on Friday night with a 26-7 win over Merrimack Valley Conference rival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Andover (1-2).

“Last week we ran into a great running back,” Adamopoulos said after the game. “He did not make us look good but we have played pretty good defense all season.”

St. John’s Prep running back Johnny Thomas ran for 228 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Central. Adamopoulos praised his defense’s effort in focusing all week in practice and holding Andover’s offense in check on Friday.

“We pride ourselves in our defense,” Adamopoulos said. “We have played three very good teams so far this season.”

Central held Andover to just 56 yards of total offense in the first half and shut the Golden Warriors out until the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter.

Central was led by running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who gained 57 yards on 13 carries and did the majority of his work in the first half. Drummond-Mayrie also added a rushing touchdown and was a force on defense from his safety position. The Univ. of New Hampshire-bound senior had a fumble recovery and interception to go with a strong game playing against the run.

“He played well,” Adamopulus said. “I liked his run support today. He was coming up well against the run.”

Central also received a strong two-way effort from junior running back Markus Edmunds (8 rushes for 46 yards), who scored the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard off tackle run, to start the second quarter.

“It was nice to get started early,” Edmunds said. “We worked hard all week and came in ready to play from the start.”

Complementing his work on the ground Edmunds stood tall from his linebacker position, leading a Central unit that did not budge on the line of scrimmage all night.

In a game of field position, Central Catholic took advantage of the short fields to help them mount four successful finishing drives.

“I thought our punt coverage was awesome,” Adamopoulos noted. “We played on their side of the field all game, which is a good thing. Our punter Danny Wilson also came up with big punts for us when we needed them.”

Mike Balsamo also played well for Central as he controlled a big fourth-quarter drive with his work on the ground, capped off with a 21-yard touchdown run.

Senior linebackers Will Eikenberry and John Oteri had strong games leading the Andover defense on the night, while freshman quarterback E.J. Perry hit Christopher Nicholas from three yards out for the only Andover score.

Milano bounces back strong: Junior quarterback Mike Milano dusted off some early-game rust and an early injury as he came back in to settled down and lead the Central offense.

“He is a tough competitor,” Adamopoulos said of his veteran signal-caller.

Milano would hit wide receiver Cam Manning for a 42-yard strike in the second quarter that set up a Drummond-Mayrie 5-yard touchdown run that gave Central a 14-0 lead.

Milano also hooked up with senior Cody Demers on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, as Demers would catch a sideline route and outrun the Andover defense to the end-zone.

Loss of Sylvester: Andover running back and return-man Jack Sylvester led the Golden Warriors offense on the night, despite being ejected in the third quarter after receiving his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game.

The controversial ejection, which occurred after a discussion with the official, took place at a tough time for the Golden Warriors as they were beginning to mount a drive against the stingy Central defense.

Sylvester gained 44 yards from scrimmage for Andover on the night and did a nice job in the return game.
Andover wide receiver and defensive back Will Heikkinen has committed to Brown Univeristy. And while the Ivy League does not recognize National Letters of Intent, the Golden Warriors held a ceremony on Wednesday for Heikkinen and quarterback C.J. Scarpa, who has a preferred walk-on spot at Elon University.

Heikkinen, a 6-foot-1, 196-pound wideout, joins a long list of former Andover greats to suit up for the Bears, most recently including former teammate and current Brown freshman Andrew Coke.

“Obviously, there’s a great connection there, going all the way back with Coach [E.J.] Perry’s brother, the Farnhams, and Andy [Coke],” Heikkinen said Wednesday. “It’s a just a great fit.

Heikkinen teamed with Scarpa to tally 72 receptions for more than 1,200 yards and nine touchdowns while being named to the ESPN Boston All-State First Team. On defense, he also pocketed six interceptions.

He will play wide receiver at Brown and received interest from Harvard and Princeton in addition to several Northeast-10 schools.

Heikkinen emphasized the importance of his quarterback in his accomplishments and hinted at a possible future connection.

“He really made me the player I am and vice versa,” he said of Scarpa. “Our chemistry’s been great the last couple year and especially this year once he took over [at quarterback]. I hope everything works out for him, but I told him that I’m still going to try to convince him to transfer to Brown.”

Recap: St. John's Prep 21, Andover 0

November, 28, 2012
LOWELL – His football team was held to 66 yards of total offense and failed to score in the first half of Tuesday night's Eastern Massachusetts Division I semifinal against Andover, so St. John's Prep coach Jim O'Leary exited the locker room at halftime with a simple plan: Give the ball to Jonathan Thomas.

Thomas, a junior running back, ran for three second-half touchdowns to propel St. John's Prep to a 21-0 victory at Cawley Stadium.

Thomas finished the game with 208 yards rushing on 28 carries.

“They take chances [on defense],” O'Leary said. “So at halftime the coaches made some adjustments in our blocking scheme. We came out and knew what we were going to do. We were going to pound it at them.

“He can play. There's a reason he's a Division I scholarship player, and it showed tonight. We're gonna put the ball in the hands of people who can make plays.”

Thomas scored on runs of 1, 19 and 47 yards. His 1-yard touchdown run opened the scoring with 3:31 left in the third quarter. His two other touchdowns came in the fourth.

Thomas gained 184 of his 208 yards after halftime.

“We're a second-half team, and we knew what we had to do,” Thomas said. “We came out and executed.”

The game's turning point seemed to come late in the third quarter, after a 22-yard completion from Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa to Will Heikkinen brought the ball to the St. John's Prep 12-yard line. Before Heikkinen was brought to the turf, however, Alex Moore forced a fumble and scooped up the loose ball.

The Eagles then drove 90 yards in nine plays and took a 14-0 lead when Thomas scored from 19 yards away and Stephen Camaro added the second of his three point-after kicks. Thomas accounted for all 90 yards in the drive. He gained 71 yards on the ground, and caught a 19-yard pass.

It was victory No. 200 for O'Leary. It also earned St. John's Prep (10-1) a berth in Saturday's Division I Super Bowl. St. John's Prep will face Brockton (9-3) at Bentley University at either 2 p.m. or 6 p.m.

Brockton advanced by beating Weymouth, 33-7, in Tuesday's other semifinal. St. John's Prep defeated Brockton 27-12 during the regular season.

“Coach O [O'Leary] is a great coach,” Thomas said. “I'm happy for him.

“We still have a lot of work to do. We have one more game, and I'm ready for it.

Andover moved the ball inside the St. John's Prep 15-yard line four times in the loss. Two of those drives ended with a missed field goal.

“I take responsibility,” Andover coach E.J. Perry said. “We should have been able to punch it in, and that's my fault.”

It was the third time St. John's Prep has shut out an opponent this season. Andover scored at least 40 points in six of its 11 regular-season games and entered the contest averaging 40.8 points per game

“Against this team here you can't let them have the home run,” O'Leary said. “You just can't give up the big play. When they get down close, our athletes are very, very good. From the 30 in, we started running man to man because we can run with them there. Then we can put extra people in the box and bring pressure.”

Thomas has played sparingly on defense this season, but was used there Tuesday night. He made a big hit on Scarpa on a fourth-and-five play in the fourth quarter. Scarpa was held to a 1-yard and Andover turned the ball over on downs. Two plays later Thomas powered his way through the line for his 47-yard TD run.

“We let up a lot of yards, but when other teams get into the red zone we don't let them score,” St. John's Prep defensive back Lucas Bavaro said. “We knew we had to step it up because they were knocking on the door a couple times in the first half.”

Scarpa completed 16 of 28 passes for 162 yards. He was intercepted twice. Scarpa entered the contest with 32 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. … Andover running back Jack Sylvester gained 146 yards on 15 carries. … St. John's Prep has won eight games in a row since dropping a 19-7 decision to Everett. … The Eagles will be making their first Super Bowl appearance since 2010.

St. John's Prep 0 0 7 14 – 21
Andover 0 0 0 0 –0

Third Quarter
SJP—Thomas 1 run (Stephen Camaro kick), 3:31.

Fourth Quarter
SJP—Thomas 19 run (Camaro kick), 7:12.
SJP—Thomas 47 run (Camaro kick), 4:48.

Recap: Andover 22, Central Catholic 19

November, 22, 2012
ANDOVER, Mass. -- C.J. Scarpa isn’t the biggest, fastest or even your most prototypical quarterback when you first take a look at him.

[+] EnlargeAndover football
Ryan Kilian for ESPNBoston.comAndover's CJ Scarpa threw his first pick in over a month and half, but led the Golden Warriors to victory.
But if you make a short list of the best quarterbacks in Eastern Mass., you would be hard-pressed not to find his name at the top or right near it.

Scarpa was brilliant in the second half of Andover’s 22-19 victory over Central Catholic (9-2) on Thanksgiving Day at Lovely Stadium. The 5-foot-9-inch, 162-pound senior quarterback finished the day 16-of-29 for 233 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

In the second half alone, Scarpa was 12-of-17 for 128 yards and he was near picture-perfect on the first drive of the second half that basically sealed the victory, and the Merrimack Valley Conference tiebreaker, for the Golden Warriors when he picked up his lone rushing touchdown of the day.

The quarterback-head coach relationship has grown over the past couple of years between E.J. Perry and Scarpa, and this game was a perfect example of that.

“Early in his career we used to have discussions,” Perry, whose team will take on St. John’s Prep in the first round of the Div. 1 playoffs, said of his quarteback, “and now I have trust.”

Scarpa showed the ability to connect on the long ball — like when he struck with Cam Farnham for a 77-yard touchdown in the first half — and the medium to short distance throws. The dink-and-dunk nature of taking what the defense gave him was on display on the Golden Warriors 15-play, 80-yard drive on their first possession of the second half.

Scarpa came out and divvied the ball to Will Heikkinen, Andrew Deloury, and Jack Sylvester out of the backfield. He connected with Heikkinen for an 8-yard connection on a crucial fourth-and-2, and five plays later he used his legs to get in the end zone for the 21-13 lead.

Perry went to a little bit of trickery on the extra point attempt as Scarpa pulled the hold back and fired it to a wide open Jake Flaherty for the two-point conversion pass and the 22-13 lead.

“Just getting the balls to the guys out quick,” Scarpa said of the second-half tempo. “Our tempo was obviously spectacular (on that drive). It was awesome to get the tempo up, because we knew if we did they would get a little bit tired.

“[The coaching staff] probably called 100 percent of the plays [on that drive]. I just improvised.”

When he needed to make connections late in the fourth quarter he did, connecting on two third-and-longs to keep the drive going and keep the Raiders from getting the ball back.

This game came down to two chances for the Raiders’ offense inside of red zone that never surfaced into touchdowns.

Ryan Doherty blocked a Golden Warriors punt and set up the Raiders inside the 20-yard line. The offense couldn’t generate a first down and had to settle for a 39-yard field goal off the foot of Thomas Jenoski.

The Raiders took the opening kickoff inside of Golden Warriors territory, and again, the offense couldn’t get across the goal-line and had to settle for a 30-yard field goal from Jenoski.

Two opportunities inside the red zone and the Raiders settled for six points instead of potentially 14. In a 3-point game, those situations need to be capitalized on.

“It’s a weird game,” said Raiders coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “I thought we played well defensively and I thought offensively we did some good things at times. We just didn’t do enough to win a game like this.”

Central Catholic (9-2) 3 – 7 – 3 – 6 - 19
Andover (10-1) 7 – 7 – 8 – 0 – 22

CC — Thomas Jenoski 39 FG
AN — Cole Organisciak 9 pass from C.J. Scarpa (Oliver Eberth kick)
CC — Ryan Doherty 14 pass from Michael Milano (Jenoski kick)
AN — Cam Farnham 77 pass from Scarpa (Eberth kick)
CC — Jenoski 30-yard FG
AN — Scarpa 9 run (Jake Flaherty pass from Scarpa)
CC — Michael Barry 25 pass from Milano (kick failed)

Small stature, big returns for Andover QB Scarpa

November, 6, 2012
ANDOVER, Mass. -- Last Wednesday, a good hour before the start of practice, Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa was huddled inside the team meeting room along with his coaches, discussing and strategizing various offensive schemes on a large white board.

While the rest of his teammates began filtering into the stadium locker room next door a short time later to dress, Scarpa, already suited up, was using this extra time to work on the intricacies of his trade.

This routine is nothing new for Scarpa. A noted student of the game, the senior is constantly looking for ways to make himself better than he already is.

[+] EnlargeScarpa
Tracy Layne/Andover Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa is just 5-foot-8 but has thrown for 2,088 yards, 27 touchdowns and just four interceptions through nine games this season.
Now in his second season guiding the Golden Warrior offense, Scarpa is regarded by many as one of the best in the state at his position. His development over these past two years has been nothing short of remarkable.

“C.J.’s sophomore year was his development year,” said Andover head coach E.J. Perry, now in his third season. “He did a tremendous job at the junior varsity level but he broke his finger in the 10th game that year. If that had not happened, he might’ve gotten a few snaps at varsity in our Thanksgiving Day game and playoff game that season because he was coming on so rapidly."

Although the broken finger served as a mere setback for him, Scarpa spent the following off-season attending various quarterback camps as well as putting in his own individual work. As a result, it allowed his skills to flourish immensely.

Last season, Andover finished 7-4 with Scarpa tossing 21 touchdowns. This year, he has already thrown 27 with only four picks and 2,088 yards as the Golden Warriors stand at 8-1 and possess a shot of earning a berth in the Division 1 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl.

“No doubt his personal accomplishments have been truly amazing," Perry said. “But what I tell C J all the time is the only stat that matters are wins. I tell him that is how you are truly measured as a quarterback."

What makes these feats all the more amazing is Scarpa is 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds. While he has heard his fare share of naysayers who say he is to small to play the position, Scarpa refuses to listen to any of it.

“Yeah, I’ve heard it from a bunch of people,” Scarpa said. “But I’ve never doubted myself. My thinking is don’t let anyone say you cannot do it. The difference between 5-8 and 6-4 is obviously the height. But if you are 5-8, like me, then you need to get into the film room, study and get into the weight room and be as strong as you can. I’ve leaned to never let anyone doubt you.”

Scarpa says ongoing conversations he has had with former Brockton standout quarterback Tom Colombo has helped him a tremendously. Colombo, himself small in stature standing 5-foot-7, had heard the same criticisms while lining up behind center in the late 1980's for the Boxers. All Colombo did was become the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes thrown (85), before the mark was eclipsed a year ago by Everett’s Jonathan DiBiaso. Upon leaving Brockton, Colombo went on to have a sensational career at Villanova University.

“Just talking with him and hearing about what he did at the high school and college level, and his height being simlar to mine, he just told me to ignore the criticisms and that I could do it too just like he did,” said Scarpa, who will play at Elon College next season. “That really meant a lot to me."

Because of Scarpa’s ability to read defenses so quickly and make adjustments on the fly, the Golden Warriors have effectively been able to run it’s up-tempo-style offense to almost near-perfection.

“The biggest thing C.J. has is the mental aspect to the quarterback position,” said Perry. “The offense we run here is quick and fast and you need to pick up blitzes and understand the routes our receivers are going. In this type of offense a lot of kids may have difficulty picking these things up. But C J understands the entire game and runs it well. What we tell C J in this offense is that it’s not about the last play but the next play. If we lose two yards or the coaches or him make a bad read who cares. We just move on to the next play.”

Perry’s devotion to Andover’s no-huddle, spread offense should come as no surprise to anyone. His brother John, head coach at Merrimack College, runs a similar style. So too does his other brother James, a former Brown University exceptional quarterback who still holds most of the Ivy League passing records, and is now the offensive coordinator at Princeton University.

“C.J. understands this offense and knows what everyone is doing on every play, including our offensive line,” said Perry. “As a coach, that is the biggest concern you have with a quarterback because in our offense sometimes we have five guys speard out running various routes and you want to be sure the quarterback knows where everyone is going. Fortunately for us, C J does.”

Adds Scarpa, “I know I can read defenses better than other kids. You understand a lot more with each game and each play. I think it is sometimes better that there really isn’t a lot of time to think in-between plays. You just go out there and whatever you see you throw the ball in that direction. Fortunately I have some great players around me and some great coaches who have helped me along the way.”

Andover has a plethora of receivers for Scarpa to choose from. Cam Farnham, Will Heikkinen, Andrew Deloury, Cam Davey and running back Jack Sylvester have all proven their worth catching the football many times over this season.

“I am definitely confident in my abilities,” Scarpa said. “I know this is such a great team. With everyone here putting in the needed time and getting to know everyone and what they can do has been truly special this year. I feel everyone here believes (a Super Bowl) can happen and for me, that’s the most important thing. Here, everyone believes we can do it and understands to never get complacent. As a senior you only get one shot at this so I believe you might as well do it the right way. As a team that’s what we have been doing.”

Recap: No. 13 Andover 42, Chelmsford 22

October, 27, 2012
CHELMSFORD, Mass.- Conventional football wisdom will tell you that if a team loses its placekicker to an injury, many aspects of the team’s performance will change: field goals and extra points get exponentially tougher, and kickoffs are no sure thing, which could give a team quality field position to start drives.

That wasn’t the case Friday for Andover. It scored two quick touchdowns in the first, and successfully converted the ensuing two-point plays, which put Chelmsford back on its heels and forced it to play catch-up the rest of the game.

The Lions could not catch up, eventually falling 42-22 to its Merrimack Valley Conference foe.

Andover’s (8-0) Mark Zavril, the team’s usual kicker, watched from the sideline in street clothes while his team rolled in its first league game of the season.

“We might have gone for the two, even if our kicking game was there, because we’ve been working on that,” Andover head coach E.J. Perry said. “We’re about 65-70 percent with the two-point and when you do the numbers, it’s almost better to go for the two. We also like to flip the numbers so we get a two-score advantage. They came toe-to-toe in the first quarter, but then we opened it up and made the twos and did a nice job.”

Chelmsford (4-4) was caught off-guard on the kickoff after the first Andover touchdown when the Golden Warriors sent a squib up the middle and recovered the loose ball. It scored a minute and a half later to put the Lions behind by 16.

Chelmsford quarterback John Campsmith (11-of-22, 138 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT) answered on the next drive when he hit Greg Johnson on a 34-yard bomb down the right sideline. Johnson, a speedy wide receiver, split bracket coverage and outran both defenders to get the ball and get in the endzone.

In the end, the Andover no-huddle, spread offense proved to be too much for the home team to handle. C.J. Scarpa finished the game 14-of-23 for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns, each to a different receiver. He also had a two-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter.

--- While the Andover offense, and many other offenses in the Merrimack Valley for that matter, are known for their propensity to put up points, its defense also made a mark on the game Friday.

After allowing Campsmith to run for a first down on a third and 12 in the first quarter, it seemed like momentum had swung into Chelmsford’s favor and the game could’ve been well on its way to a shootout. Then on the next play, Campsmith tossed a bubble screen out to his wide receiver, but the ball bounced in the dirt. The receiver thought it was an incomplete pass, but because it was a sideways pass, the ball was live. Seeing this, the Andover defense jumped on the ball, killing the drive and Chelmsford momentum.

Andover scored on its opening driving after halftime, creating a 20-point deficit. On the first play of the ensuing Chelmsford drive, Chas Haseltine picked off Campsmith. The offense scored on its next possession, which turned what was a two-possession game at halftime into a four-possession game in two and a half minutes of game time.

“The defense doesn’t really get talked about a lot because our offense is so good,” Scarpa said. “Our defense is one heck of a defense. They kept us in that Xaverian game (a 15-13 victory), and we just knew our defense was pretty good. We practice as hard as we can against them, and they give us great looks and we give them great looks.”

--- Friday marked the first game in a four-week stretch when Andover plays league opponents. While it came into the latter part of the season undefeated, the team and the coaching staff know now is put-up or shut-up time for them.

“We told them coming in, ‘We’re starting 0-0, congratulations on being 7-0, but it’s time to go to work,” Perry said. “If you were in the huddle, one of the kids jumped in and said, ’1-0,’ and I like to hear that from our players.”

The team does feel confident, with the season steadily moving towards Thanksgiving and the playoffs.

“Eight-and-oh is great, but as everyone knows now, we’re 1-0 in the MVC, so we’re basically 1-0,” said Cam Farnham (3 catches, 22 yards, 1 TD). “We know if we win out, we’re going to the playoffs. We’ve got Lowell, Billerica, Central, and honestly, I think our conference is very tough but I think if we keep coming together as a team and keep battling hard, I think we’ll be in good shape.”

--- Andover’s quarterback C.J. Scarpa is anything but conventional. At 5-foot-8, he looks more like a scat back than a quarterback. Stand next to him, and you can not help but wonder how he can read the field beyond his offensive linemen. However, after Friday, he has tossed over 20 touchdown passes and is a senior captain of a team considered very much capable of winning the Merrimack Valley Large.

“Being 5-8 makes me me, so I just take it as it is,” he said. “I’m not going to try and be anyone I’m not. I’m 5-8, so be it. My parents aren’t tall, so I just take it how it comes.”

AND --- 16 6 20 0 --- 42
CHE --- 8 0 7 7 --- 22

1st quarter
A - Andrew Deloury 37-yard pass from CJ Scarpa (Deloury 2-point pass from Scarpa good)
A - Will Heikkinen 21-yard pass from Scarpa (Heikkinen 2-point pass from Scarpa good)
C - Greg Johnson 34-yard pass from John Campsmith (Johnson 2-point pass from Campsmith good)

2nd quarter
A - Scarpa 2-yard run (Scarpa 2-point pass to Deloury no good)

3rd quarter
A - Jack Sylvester 12-yard run (Deloury 2-point pass from Scarpa good)
A - Cam Farnham 10-yard pass from Scarpa (Nolan Leblanc kick no good)
A - Brandon Marti 8-yard run (Leblanc kick no good)
C - Connor Brimley 4-yard run (Charles Calenda kick good)

4th quarter
C - Johnson 8-yard pass from Campsmith (Calenda kick good)

Recap: Andover 50, North Andover 35

September, 8, 2012
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)

Andover's Coke commits to Brown

November, 22, 2011
Andover running back/defensive back Andy Coke confirmed to tonight that he has verbally committed to Brown University for the fall of 2012.

Coke, a member of ESPN Boston's inaugural MIAA All-State Team as a junior in 2010, was also considering a scholarship offer from Villanova as a safety.

"I've always been a running back, always been better at running back since I was a little kid," Coke said. "I wasn't used on defense until this year. Offense is just something I've always had my heart into, driven to the point that I'd like to play running back in college. I really love Brown, I love everything about it -- the campus, everything."

The past two seasons, Coke has been a catalyst for a Golden Warriors offense known for its unorthodox schemes and spread principles under new coach E.J. Perry. The Warriors qualified for postseason for the first time in school history last season, losing to eventual Super Bowl champ Everett in the Division 1 playoffs.

"They want a guy who's gonna get them yards," Coke said. "That’s the system Coach [Phil] Estes runs up there. If you notice last year, the I-formation is when I did my damage best. They do run the spread, but they 'I' it up, too, they've got big linemen up there. That’s what I like."

Headed into the Warriors' Thanksgiving matchup with rival Central Catholic, Coke has over 2,000 yards of total offense (including more than 1,200 on the ground and 400 receiving), with 15 touchdowns, and also has five interceptions on defense.

Recap: Andover 44, No. 20 Billerica 28

November, 5, 2011
ANDOVER, Mass. -- It has been a season of ups and downs for the Andover Golden Warriors.

Come into the season ranked on the ESPN Boston Top 25, then lose to Tewksbury in the third game of the season. Win two after that, then lose to Chelmsford by 20 points. Get a 39-point victory over Methuen, then lose to Dracut by 16 points after giving up six turnovers.

They were able to send things back in a positive direction Friday with a 44-28 victory over No. 20 Billerica.

Andover did not actually come out of the gate well. The defense gave up a 31-yard Nick LaSpada touchdown pass to Matt Clifford on Billerica’s opening drive. On the ensuing offensive possession, Andy Coke lost a fumble at midfield, giving the Indians the ball back with great field possession.

After forcing a 3-and-out, the Golden Warriors (6-3) drove 72 yards down the field for the first of Andy Coke’s two rushing touchdowns of the night to tie the game at 7. He finished with 24 carries for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns.

On the second play of the second quarter, Freddie Scribner intercepted LaSpada and took it back 35 yards to put his team ahead. Billerica (7-2) answered on its next possession when LaSpada connected with Clifford for his second touchdown pass of the game.

C.J. Scarpa made his presence felt in the middle of the second when he finally came in to play quarterback. On 4th-and-8 from the Billerica 46, he dropped back to pass and looked right, but no receivers were open. Under pressure, he rolled back to the left, still searching for an open receiver. He saw Ken Miyachi was behind a defensive back and made a hand motion for Miyachi to take off towards the endzone. Scarpa hit him in stride for a 46-yard touchdown pass.

LaSpada had an interesting play of his own in the third quarter when he hit Mark Duncan on a short curl route next to the right sideline. After making the catch, Duncan kept his legs moving and eventually broke away from the defensive back and sprinted down the right sideline. He got into the endzone for a 92-yard touchdown reception, which kept it a one-score game.

It would not be enough however, as Andover broke away in the second half for the decisive victory.

-- Andover was able to get consistent pressure on LaSpada and slow down the Billerica rushing attack as a whole. LaSpada finished with just eight carries for 19 yards while running back Byron Ramirez had 11 carries for 42 yards and a touchdown. This was about three-quarters the production the two had the previous week in Billerica’s victory over Lowell. In that game, Lowell chose to put an extra defender in the box to take away the run. Friday, Andover chose to play its base defense with two safeties high, but send a varying package of linebackers so that even though LaSpada couldn’t run, he still would not have a lot of time to throw. “We match up well against them,” Coke said. “We have a really good secondary and our linebackers are more athletic, coverage-type guys, so I think we matched up well against them. They were able to run the ball well at first but, then our big boys stepped up.” LaSpada was 14-of-21 for 306 yards, but was forced into throwing 3 costly interceptions.

-- While it is not at all surprising to see Andy Coke get a majority of the carries in a game for the Golden Warriors, it is surprising to see him under center for a whole quarter. That is how Andover started the game Friday. Quarterback C.J. Scarpa spent the whole first quarter on the sidelines trying to stay loose in the bitter cold while Coke had 11 carris for 83 yards and a touchdown in the opening frame. “They threw down the stakes last year when they said it was going to be LaSpada vs. Coke,” Andover head coach E.J. Perry said. “Andy showed the cream always rises to the top and he just did a phenomenal job. It was his overall play, he connected on passes, played defense and got an interception.”

It was part of the gameplan to get Coke that integrated into the game that early. “I think our offense runs a little smoother if we score quickly with me at QB and then let CJ get his confidence up and get going and let him do what he does best and that’s torch a D.”

-- Andover was like many of the other schools in the state whose practice week was cut short due to school cancellations from the power outages from the weekend storm. However, it did not seem to effect the Golden Warriors on either side of the ball. In fact, Coke credited the team’s familiarity with Billerica and the confidence the team gained from its victory over the Indians last year for his team’s success Friday. “We had a lot of confidence coming into this game,” he said. “Last year we had a real convincing win over them that was one of our building blocks to winning the MVC title. I think football is a sport where its whoever comes out harder on Fridays. A good Monday through Thursday definitely helps but if you can just get two days in and get everything down and come out mentally ready, and come out ready to hit, I think that’s the most important part of this game.”

ANDOVER (6-3, 1-1) - 7 15 7 15 -- 44
BILLERICA (7-2, 1-1) - 7 7 14 0 -- 28

1st quarter
B - Matt Clifford 31-yard pass from Nick LaSpada (Steve Trask kick good)
A - Andy Coke 12-yard run (Mark Zavrl kick good)

2nd quarter
A - Freddie Scribner 35-yard interception return (Zavrl kick good)
B - Clifford 21-yard pass from LaSpada (Trask kick good)
A - Ken Miyachi 45-yard pass from CJ Scarpa (2-point conversion good)

3rd quarter
B - Mark Duncan 92-yard pass from LaSpada (2-point conversion failed)
B - Byron Ramirez 2-yard run (2-point conversion good)
A - Cam Farnham 80-yard kickoff return (Zavrl kick good)

4th quarter
A - Coke 6-yard run (Zavrl kick good)
A - Will Heikkinen 25-yard pass from Scarpa (2-point conversion good)

Recap: No. 11 Andover 30, No. 21 N. Andover 20

September, 10, 2011
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass.- The season started about as bad as it could have for the Andover Golden Warriors Friday against North Andover. On the initial hit after catching the opening kickoff, Jack Sylvester fumbled the football away at the Scarlet Knights' 32 yard line.

Seven plays later, North Andover quarterback Brandon Walsh scored on a 1-yard touchdown run and Andover quickly found itself playing from behind. But Andover was able to forge ahead and overcome two more first-quarter turnovers however, and came away with a 30-20 victory at Walsh Stadium.

“I think at this point in the season, they weren’t as good as us, and that’s why we beat them,” said Andover running back Andy Coke (20 carries, 123 yards). “We still respect them as a team, but we came into this thinking we were the better team and we played like it. We had a few fumbles that could have cost us, but didn’t. We did our best and they did theirs.”

Three plays into the ensuing drive of Andover (1-0), the center sent a low shotgun snap at Coke’s feet, and it was recovered by a North Andover defensive lineman. Later in the quarter, Andover quarterback C.J. Scarpa threw his only interception of the game.

North Andover (0-1) was unable to capitalize on the two turnovers, and the Warriors were able to get one of their own in the second. Walsh threw his first of three interceptions into the chest of defensive lineman T.J. Leeman. Three plays later, Coke ran off left tackle from two yards away to tie the game at 7.

From there, the teams traded touchdowns in the second. Because of a missed North Andover extra point, Andover took a 14-13 lead into the half.

“I said to the kids at halftime we actually gave them 13 points,” said Andover head coach E.J. Perry. “They came out and gave us their best shot, we had to come out and just play.”

The Warriors came out of the locker room with a renewed energy and focus having overcome those early turnovers.

“Coach has been stressing all week to us to keep the ball,” said Scarpa, who was 9-of-19 for 136 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game. “Once we kept the ball after the first three turnovers, we knew we had the game. Our offense struggled a little bit but we knew if the defense kept us in the game, eventually we were eventually going to get a push, and that’s what we did.”

Walsh was noticeably limping in the third quarter. On the sideline between series, he was working with a trainer to loosen up his right leg. His mobility was hindered for the remainder of the game, but he already had 110 yards and two touchdowns by halftime.

“I was sad to see Brandon cramping because I just respect him so much,” said Perry. “I’ve seen him at camps, so I like to beat him when he’s healthy.”

Walsh ended the game 17-of-30 for 218 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions through the air.

While he could not run effectively, he still lead his team on a 4:11 drive to start the third quarter. It appeared the team was on its way to another score when senior wide receiver Dan Laorenza lost a fumble on the Andover 16-yard-line, ending the drive.

Walsh briefly gave his team the lead in the fourth quarter when he connected with his brother Casey for a 61-yard touchdown down the left sideline.

Andover answered back quickly when Scarpa hit Cam Farnham down the seam for a 60-yard touchdown, making it 23-20 Andover with seven minutes left. On that particular play, Scarpa lined up as a wide receiver with Coke taking the direct snap. Running to the left, Coke flipped the ball to Scarpa, who was running right, opposite his linemen. He caught the toss and threw it deep to Farnham, hitting him in stride for the touchdown.

“You never keep that play in your pocket,” said Perry. “I was on the headphones with the coaching saying I was going to run the trick play. They argued with me, so I turned off my phone and sent CJ out and said, ‘We’re running the trick play,’ and then it was a touchdown.”

Coke intercepted Walsh on the first North Andover play after the ensuing kickoff. Minutes later, Scarpa hit Will Heikkinen with a pass from 10-yards out to give Andover the 30-20 lead and ultimately, the victory.

No. 11 ANDOVER 30, No. 21 NORTH ANDOVER 20

AND --- 0 14 3 13 --- 30
NA --- 7 6 0 7 --- 20

1st quarter
N - Brandon Walsh 2 run (Glen Hartford kick good)

2nd quarter
A - Andy Coke 2 run (Mark Zavri kick)
N - Walsh 1 run (Kick failed)
A - Will Heikkinen 35 pass from C.J. Scarpa (Zavri kick)

3rd quarter
A - Zavri 28-yard field goal

4th quarter
N - Casey Walsh 61 pass from Brandon Walsh (Hartford kick)
A - Cam Farnham 60 pass from Scarpa (Zavri kick)
A - Heikkinen 10 pass from Scarpa (Zavri kick)

Coke powers No. 11 Andover to new heights

August, 31, 2011
ANDOVER, Mass. -- The 2010 season was a wild ride for Andover's Andrew Coke.

Coke transferred back to his hometown high school from Brooks School to join his Golden Warrior teammates. It was also the first season for head coach E.J. Perry, who took over the program from John Rex. Adapting to his new surroundings, Coke self-admittedly got off to a slow start in his new surroundings.

"The first scrimmage last year, I probably had about 20 carries for five yards," the 6-foot-1 running back said.

Those meager beginnings were no indication of where Coke would end up. The ESPN Boston All-Stater grinded out 1,841 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns. As a hybrid running back and quarterback in the Golden Warriors' Wildcat-like offensive scheme, Coke also threw for over 200 yards and two touchdowns. He had over 2,000 all-purpose yards.

All of Coke's contributions helped Andover to its first Merrimack Valley Conference title in 35 years and had them within an earshot of the Division 1 Super Bowl. The Golden Warriors had a season that started off a bit like that of their offensive leader.

"You have to remember, at one point last season we were 4-3," Perry said. "That's when we started to gel and come together as a team. We got smacked in the face by Chelmsford and then we woke up."

From there, Andover went on a run leading up to their Thanksgiving Day win over Central Catholic to clinch the MVC title.

Now, the 11th-ranked Golden Warriors have higher expectations than ever.

"We're willing to take that extra step to play in Foxborough," Coke said of their Super Bowl aspirations.

Coke's role will be slightly different this season. He's going to play defense as well, so with his time at safety mixed in, you might not see Coke rack up the 35-carry performances that become customary last year. Perry is also looking for junior C.J. Scarpa to hold down the quarterbacking duties. It would come as no surprise to see Coke under center again -- as became a necessity last season after Tom Dempsey was lost to injury -- however, Perry's looking to exploit Coke's athleticism more, meaning he'll be lined up more in the backfield, or even split out wide.

No matter what the circumstance, the Andover boss is happy to have the ball in No. 2's hands.

"He has a unique blend of power, speed and the ability to cut," Perry said. "I think his production made him the best back in the state last year. With his speed, and when you consider that he's bigger and faster this year, it's going to cause trouble for other teams."

Coke, who has received a lot of interest from Ivy League schools including Brown, Harvard and Princeton, is looking to take his game to another level. And, in the process, he'd like nothing better than to finish his short but fruitful Andover career with a win at Gillette Stadium.

But he won't soon forget how it all started.

"Things are a lot different this year," Coke said.

2010 record: 8-4 (Lost to Everett in Division 1 playoffs)
Coach: E.J. Perry (2nd year, 8-4)
Players to watch: Andrew Coke, Sr. RB/S, 6-1, 200; T.J. Leeman, Sr. OL, 6-2, 270; Freddie Scribner, Sr. RB/DB, 6-0, 175; Matt Crush, Sr. OL/DL, 6-2, 225; Giovanni Rosano, Sr. LB; 6-0, 175; Brendan Paquette, Sr. TE/LB, 6-1, 175; Cam Farnham, Jr. SE, 5-8, 150; Will Heikkenen, Jr. SE, 6-2, 185; Ben Hartford, Soph. OL, 6-2, 250.
Strengths: Mental toughness, physical style of play.
Weakness: Experience at quarterback.
Outlook: As giddy as the Golden Warriors are about having another year with Coke, added cause for optimism lies in the offensive line. Andover returns "two and a half" (Perry's words) starters from the line last year, including Leeman and Crush. James Kelley also started during the second half of the year following a rash of injuries on the line. Sophomore tackle Ben Hartford is a name fans will be hearing in the coming years and associated with D1 college programs. Junior Andreas Christopulos takes over at center. On defense, Perry thinks he's found a replacement for the talented Ned Deane, who was very much the quarterback of the unit last year, in Rosano. "He's a tremendous linebacker and people are going to get to know him," Perry said. Paquette adds experience and skill to the linebacking corps while nose tackle Greg Brown will hold down lineman up front with his two-gapping ability.

Perry guiding hand to Andover's MVC Large title

November, 25, 2010
ANDOVER, Mass. -- When E.J. Perry arrived as Andover’s third football coach in the last three seasons, he asked his seniors to find it within themselves to faith in the journey they were about to undertake.

They did, and that faith has been rewarded. Thanks in part to a stifling defense led by Mike McGovern and an Andrew Coke-led offense that hung tough and persevered through some tough stretches, the Golden Warriors defeated Central Catholic, 19-7, at Lovely Field and are going to the postseason for the first time since 1975.

“This is for the kids. I had to come in here and ask them to believe in me and they responded,” Perry said. “For a group of seniors to respond and believe in a new coach for the third time is remarkable. I’ll never forget this senior class. 35 years they haven’t been to the playoffs, 35 years they haven’t won an MVC title. Year one, we got it done.”

Andover’s (8-3) last game saw its defense allow 82 points to Lowell in an 8-overtime classic, and defensive coordinator Shawn Theriault and the rest of the staff knew they had to change that in order to topple the Raiders and capture the Merrimack Valley Conference Large title.

McGovern had an interception in his own end zone, deflected another pass, and made tackles all over the field to lead a unit that held Central Catholic (7-4) to 158 yards of offense and just one drive that traveled further than 27 yards.

“The defense was awesome,” praised Perry. “Shawn (Theriault) came off that last game and he was upset about the 82 points. I told him, when they go to that overtime, it’s like playing 3-on-3 basketball. It’s not real. I just told him to stick in there and this defense was unbelievable.”

Added Andover captain/lineman Connor Clancy, “The defense was awesome. Coach (Tim) Briggs, Coach Theriault, Coach (Joe) Iarrobino and Coach (Steve) Silva, they all had us prepared for this game. We knew everything they were going to do from the screens to the draws. We were perfectly prepared.”

When Andover had the ball, it spent most of its time in the hands of junior quarterback Andrew Coke. Coke finished with 129 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, a good chunk of which came on two fourth-quarter possessions where Coke shifted to tailback and Tom Dempsey took the snaps, including the game’s final TD with 1:54 left to play.

“They were really shutting us down in the second half,” Coke said. “That fourth quarter drive was really what did it. I went to running back, Tommy Dempsey went to quarterback and we just decided we were going to pound it down their throats and do what we always did this whole season.”

Freddie Scribner (9 carries, 78 rushing yards) broke loose for a 60-yard run on the game’s first play from scrimmage, which eventually led to a 37-yard field goal by Mark Zavrl. After trading turnovers, Andover forced Central to punt, and Coke led his team on a 10-play, 55-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard TD run by McGovern. Zavrl would add another field goal late in the half, this one a 42-yarder.

Meanwhile, the Andover defense was taking control of the game. The Raiders first five possessions went 6, 9, 2, 23 and 2 yards respectively. Central’s best chance came on the final drive of the half, as big runs by Matt McDermott and Cam Walsh moved the Raiders to the Andover 11. However, McGovern stepped in front of a McDermott pass in the end zone, and the Golden Warriors were able to take a 12-0 lead into the break.

Central had trouble getting out of its own way at times, with a combination of penalties and miscues on snaps leading to big losses. They did make things interesting in the fourth quarter on a drive that started at the Andover 27, went all the way back to the CC 45, and then back into the red zone (aided greatly by three Andover penalties) before Trae Musumarra barreled in from the one with 7:58 left to make it a 12-7 game.

“I tip my hat to Andover because their defense hung in there and we felt like we were treading water all day,” admitted Raiders coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “We got penalties at the wrong times and it felt like we were always first and 25. We didn’t play well enough to win, and they deserved it because they played better than we did.”

Central Catholic 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Andover 9 3 0 7 -- 19

A - Mark Zavrl 37 field goal
A - Mike McGovern 2 run (pass failed)
A - Zavrl 42 field goal
CC - Trae Musumarra 1 run (Cam Walsh kick)
A - Andrew Coke 6 run (Zavrl kick)

Andover rides lunch-pail crew into Turkey Day

November, 24, 2010

ANDOVER, Mass. -- There's a renewed buzz in the hallways at Andover High this week.

"It's really crazy," said senior linebacker/tight end Ned Deane. "They're already selling tickets at school. All the kids plan on going. Usually, we kinda make fun of a lot of the kids in our school, because they don't really come out to the football games, and this week they're asking when they can buy tickets."

He adds, laughing, "We've (jokingly) been calling them fair-weather fans...but we're really excited about this, everywhere I go around town people are wishing me good luck. It's really awesome to see this hype in Andover, everyone in the town is excited for this. It's a whole different level this year."

Don't blame Deane for asking how many of his peers skinned themselves jumping onto the Golden Warriors' bandwagon. Heck, with all of the relative unknown (new coach, new faces) outside of its one sure thing (Boston College-bound wide receiver Brian Miller), and all of the hype in other places in the Merrimack Valley Large (see: LaSpada, Nick; Joy, Tim), not many knew how much weight to put into Andover's chances. Yet here they are, two days before a winner-take-all showdown with Thanksgiving rival Central Catholic, sitting at 7-3 and potentially grabbing their first MVC title of any kind since 1975.

They'll be doing it without Miller, the team's most versatile athlete, who went down with a broken tibia in the Warriors' jaw-dropping 88-82 eight-overtime win over Lowell two weeks ago. But this season hasn't been about guys like Miller and wildcat junior quarterback Andrew Coke (1,600-plus rushing yards, 28 touchdowns), as much as it's been about the gritty, undersized guys who play with their heads -- in some cases literally.

Deane, at 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, has pedigree -- his father, Ned, starred at linebacker at Minnechaug Regional and UMass -- but not the most imposing of size. But with the experience from getting thrown into the fire so young as a sophomore, along with above-average speed and ball instincts, Deane prides himself not only on the ability to read the play and find a clear lane to the point of attack, but also on the amount of abandon in his pursuit.

"I think if you're a linebacker, it doesn't matter how big you are," Deane said. "If you're tough, and you're fast, and you can read, then you can get anywhere. You can make a play. It's all about toughness, really. If someone runs an Iso right at you, I know people that would worry 'You need a big guy in the middle'. That helps, but it's not entirely true. You need a tough kid in there, a kid who's going to stick his nose in there and blow up the play."

A torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee cost Deane all but four games of his junior season, but the heady play has been evident since his first varsity start as a sophomore in 2008, when the Warriors faced physically-imposing Gatorade Player of the Year Matt Grimard and Dracut High. Deane, then a 5-foot-11, 160-pounder, remembers his sack of the 230-pound Grimard, chasing him as he flushed out of the pocket to his side and taking him out at the legs for a stop on fourth down. "We were jacked up at that point," Dean smiled (Andover eventually lost to the Middies, who won the Division 1A Super Bowl that season).

Teammate and captain Connor Clancy remembers the play vididly: "Tackling a big kid like that, it was awesome," said the 6-foot, 230-pound center/nose guard. And as for Deane's production, who leads the Warriors with over 100 tackles, there is little shock.

"To me, it's been absolutely no surprise, to be quite honest," Clancy said. "He's been one of my best friends since sixth grade, and sophomore year he came in when he had a few injuries and played awesome. Last year, he was playing awesome and then we got hit with the injury bug. That happens in football. But he's done an unbelievable job, he's going big places."

Clancy, like Deane and Miller, was another youngster thrown onto the varsity as a sophomore. And like Deane, he takes similar pride in his toughness.

Not to mention the beaten-up, falling-apart look of his navy blue helmet. Long, white scrape marks litter the crown of it; the golden "A" logo is partially chipped off; the bars on his facemask are a mixture of navy blue and rust-brown. Clancy says it's not from leading with his head, but from his legs, then his arms, and inevitably the facemask.

But it's the exact aesthetic this team feeds off of, and following Tuesday's practice the team was served another reminder. First-year head coach E.J. Perry screamed at his players, reminding them of where they were five weeks ago and where they are now. Nobody believed in us, he repeated.

And for Clancy, that's OK.

"I think from day one, since last year, all the way up day one this year, everyone's been telling us we can't win," he smiled. "We don't have enough stars. We lost too many people. We don't have a playmaker. But we just kinda told them you're wrong, and we're going to shove it up yours."