After finishing its 2017 season with a record of 6-2 — including a hard-fought 17-14 victory over Phillips Exeter Academy during Andover/Exeter Weekend — Andover Football enters its 2018 season with high hopes for its combination of both new and old talent.
After graduating over half its roster — 28 out of 42 players —last year, the team welcomes plenty of new faces, including five Post-Graduates.
“We have five very talented Post-Graduates and new tenth and 11th graders. The [Post-Graduates] bring their talent but also their leadership and spirit. They’ve all bought into the school and the team,” Defensive Coordinator Lou Bernieri wrote in an email to The Phillipian.
New players to watch include Post-Graduates Sal Lupoli ’19, Magnus Vöge ’19, and Jake Bedell ’19, according to Head Coach Leon Modeste.
“Sal Lupoli and Mangus Vöge are our linebackers and our running backs, and they are very, very good players. They bring a lot of toughness, leadership, as well as really high football IQs to the team. Also, Jake Bedell is one of our receivers; [he is] a very dynamic player,” said Coach Modeste.
Co-Captain Andrew Mazonne ’19 wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “Our PGs definitely are a big key to our core this year. Sal [Lupoli] and Magnus Vöge are both extremely gritty [players], leading the middle linebackers and running backs, Jake Bedell is a very fast wide receiver/outside linebacker, Timmer Verhaegh ’19 will be playing tackle and defensive end, and Lucca Blasi ’19 will be healthy and back on the line very soon.”
The team’s standout returning players include Co-Captains Will Litton ’19, Mazzone, and Michael Thompson ’20, who will bring both leadership and skill to the field this fall, according to Coach Bernieri.
“The team has a number of talented skill players and a gifted quarterback in Michael Thompson. Our captains, Michael, Andrew Mazzone and Will Litton are outstanding leaders and people,” wrote Bernieri.
The team’s 2018 roster will also introduce a multitude of underclassmen with its addition of two new Uppers, 14 Lowers, and two Juniors. While this influx of young players will bring new talent and skill to the field, it also presents new obstacles for Andover in the significant shifts to the team structure. Andover will need to focus on learning how to best integrate its new assets and its strong core of returning players so that the team functions as one unit, according to Coaches Bernieri and Modeste.
“We have a lot of young, inexperienced players starting. Their improvement will very much determine our season. Because we have so many new players this year we’ve been working on adapting our offensive and defensive schemes to our talent,” wrote Coach Bernieri.
“I would say the biggest thing we could improve upon is we need to bring our offensive line together so they’re a good solid unit. Right now, they’re five guys, and we need to make them one solid unit,” said Coach Modeste.
At the conclusion of preseason, Andover played a 40-minute scrimmage against Brooks last Saturday, coming out on top 7-0.
“Overall, the team played well on Saturday. The scrimmage gave us the ability to see what we need to work on, as we were by no means perfect on Saturday. With this new idea of our strengths and weaknesses, I think we’ll be able to move into the coming [season] with a better approach and [as] a stronger team as a whole,” wrote Erik Fota ’20.
The scrimmage featured many great plays, including standout performances from Lupoli and newcomer Thomas McAndrews ’22, according to Mazzone.
“Sal Lupoli’s touchdown was easily the best highlight of the game, the line made a huge gap for him to burst through and burn past Brooks’ secondary. Also, [Junior] Thomas McAndrews really showed up by making some nice tackles on defense,” wrote Mazzone in an email to The Phillipian.
Andover will play its first game against BB&N at home this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.