ANDOVER, Mass. -- C.J. Scarpa isn’t the biggest, fastest or even your most prototypical quarterback when you first take a look at him.
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.
MISSED CHANCES FOR RAIDERS
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.”
ANDOVER 22, CENTRAL CATHOLIC 19
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)