Andover Football Scrimmages Cushing and Deerfield, Tunes Up Offensive Rhythm Before Season Opener

New additions and old faces all starred as the Andover Football team held a preseason scrimmage with Cushing and Deerfield. Although the scrimmage felt more like practice than a real game, Andover played with a ferocious intensity on every play. Andover first played Cushing and then Deerfield in two separate contests. In each mini-scrimmage, each offense ran ten plays with stoppages after each play for the coaches to help the players, and then they switched teams. After the twenty total plays, the teams played one quarter, simulating a real game. Against each team, Andover clearly looked superior. In the “quarter” against Cushing, the Andover defense forced three turnovers, winning14-0. Captain Matt Ward ’06 forced a fumble on Cushing’s second play. Matt Fernandez ’06 intercepted a deep Cushing throw, and Brendan Gallagher ’06 forced another Cushing fumble. Andover gave up no big plays to Cushing during the entire quarter and gave the offense great field position. The interior line stuffed up the middle and sacked the Cushing quarterback twice. Andover’s offense took advantage of Cushing’s turnovers and drove down the field with precision and ease. Quarterback Joey Lokitis ’06 played very well in his first action of the season, throwing a touchdown pass to wide receiver Andrew Badger ’06 and two passes to Jason Soulle ’06. Running backs Charlie Houghton ’06 and Fernandez dominated Cushing’s defense with Fernandez scoring on a six yard run. Against Deerfield, Andover kept some of its starters out of the action, but still controlled the game. Andover’s defense was impenetrable against Deerfield. Peter Casey ’07, Tom Tassinari ’06 and Chris Bramwell ’07 each made countless plays to stuff the Deerfield running game. The younger kids and substitutes also brought the heat, with Chad Hollis ’08 and Matt Gaske ’08 leading the way. Hollis, in his Andover debut, hit as hard as anyone on the field. Will Sherrill ’07 came in for Lokitis at quarterback and performed well, completing two passes to Badger to set up a five-yard touchdown run by Captain Ward. The Andover defense played exceptionally. Coach Modeste said, “Defensively, we were very strong and really shined. Everyone attacked the ball, and on every play we had six or seven blue shirts in on the play, gang tackling the opponent. We had great intensity, something we haven’t seen in recent years.” The young kids performed especially well and made a huge impression on the coaches. Andover’s defensive depth provides the coaches with more options than they’ve had in past years. Offensively, Andover was strong but made small mistakes that, while expected in a scrimmage, will cost the team during the season. The play at the skill positions was incredible, sometimes making up for a missed block or confused assignment. Coach Modeste said, “The offense was not in synch on some plays but that’s expected in a scrimmage. Refining and perfecting the offense takes longer than preparing the defense to play. We had a few missed assignments, but we also had a lot of good plays on top of those.” Andover heads into its home opener against Loomis Chaffee on Saturday.