Fall Sports, Football, Sports

Football PGs Provide Leadership On Inexperienced Line

On the third down with fifteen yards to go in Andover’s game against Kent, Andover mounted a long drive deep into its opponent’s territory. Scot Gladstone ’16, catching sight of an oncoming Kent defensive lineman, signaled to alert Joe Scibelli ’16 of the approaching threat. Scibelli intercepted the blitzing defender, buying extra time for quarterback Robert Jones ’16 to fire a critical touchdown pass to Hallvard Lundevall ’16 to give Andover a 14-7 lead.

Gladstone and Scibelli are Post-Graduates (PGs) hailing from Helena, MT., and Los Angeles, CA., respectively. Both are physically imposing, with Gladstone standing at 6’4”, 245 lbs and Scibelli at 6’0”, 280 lbs.

The two PGs have been asked to step up as veteran leaders on Andover’s offensive line this season, pairing with the talented but largely inexperienced trio of Johnny Rex ’17, Keegan Cummings ’17 and Justin Williamson ’16.

A seasoned offensive line has proved crucial thus far. Head Coach Leon Modeste said, “[Scibelli and Gladstone] have fit right in because of their experience. They get our scheme, they know what we want, understand the bigger picture and have excelled in their leadership roles on the line in our two games. Under their leadership, the line keeps improving and getting better. It’s hard to take five new guys and get them all on the same page, but they’ve brought them together from all different levels of experience.”

According to Modeste, Gladstone and Scibelli’s adjustment has been seamless, slotting in wherever he asked them to, and eventually growing accustomed to the tackle positions. Scibelli said, “We have a great line this year, but we don’t have a lot of experience outside of [Gladstone] and I. [Gladstone] anchors [Jones’s] blindside, [and] I’ve got his strong side. [Gladstone] and I make sure the calls are correct and making sure everyone is knowing what they need to do.”

Reading the opposing defense is integral in the line’s success. This communication is something the offensive group practices and perfects during practice throughout the week. Gladstone said, “[Scibelli] and I get the line together in practice to work out signals for different situations, and find different calls to get us all on the same page. Every week we try to change it up, and [our group] does a good job at keeping up with new calls.”

Andover’s dominance in both the running and passing games thus far has been largely supported by the continued presence of Gladstone and Scibelli, who have played nearly every down for Andover this season. “[Scibelli] and [Gladstone] stay in the game for almost every play and are always 100 percent focused. Both are doing a great job in leading this year’s line, which consists mostly of younger players,” said Cummings.

The offense has gained an average of 171 rushing yards in its first two games, at an impressive average of over six yards per carry.

Part of the group’s transition to Andover’s offense is accounted by Gladstone’s familiarity with the offense, having run a similar scheme in Montana. “All my experience on the offensive side of the ball gives me a good understanding of my position. I ran a similar offense at my old high school, so I feel I’m understanding and executing our scheme pretty well,” added Gladstone.

Success has also been bountiful in the passing game as a result of the extended periods of time the PG-led line provides for Jones in the pocket.

Through two games, Jones has had an exceptional Passer Rating of 133.9 and has thrown for an average of 172 yards per game, an average exceeding that of defending NEPSAC Champion Choate’s quarterback, Steven Genova ’16. Behind his line, Jones has also thrown more touchdowns than Genova.

Protecting the quarterback is important to Scibelli. “I’ve grown up playing football. The whole line is responsible for protecting the whole team. [The line] is an unglamorous job, but it’s key to the team’s success. It is crucial to protect the quarterback and give our backs and receivers the best chance to gain yardage,” he said.

Without the leadership of Gladstone and Scibelli, Andover’s continued offensive success would not be possible. Should their success continue, one of Andover’s backs should surpass Ryder Stone’s ’14 total of 1224 yards from the 2013 championship season.

Thanks to the PGs’ dominance, Andover looks to remain successful throughout the rest of the season.

Oct 9, 2015