This season, Andover Football will look to rebuild its team after losing its pass rusher, receiver and rusher among the 16 players from last year’s undefeated squad. To help fill the holes of the 9-0 Jack Etter Bowl Championship team, eight new Post-Graduates will join a core returning team.
“As always, the goal is to win every game, win the championships and have fun doing it,” wrote Captain Rob Needham ’15 in an email to The Phillipian. As one of the few four-year players, he will lead the team as both an offensive lineman and defensive end.
Despite the loss of a slew of key players, the team is studded with fresh energy. “We have a lot of wonderful talent out there, especially the Uppers who have been on the team since last year, who are stepping up and have good chemistry,” said Benny Ogando ’15.
Uppers on the team include Jumaane Ford ’16, DeWitt Burnham ’16 and John Simourian ’16, who will assume leadership roles as they transition from bench players to key starters. Ford, Burnham and Simourian will likely see time at the skill positions on offense and at defensive back on defense, as Andover graduated 100 percent of its starting defensive backfield from 2013. Other Uppers who will likely see increased playing time are Jack Belluche ’16, Matt Whalen ’16 and Will Humphrey ’16.
This talented group of Uppers, along with the Seniors, will look to continue the success that last year’s second-ranked team (among prep schools, according to MaxPreps) enjoyed in all facets of the game. Last season, Andover had the top rusher in the league and ranked well above the national average in nearly every major statistical category. On average, last year’s championship team outscored its opponents by 28 points, tallying 298 points and allowing only 106.
A new face to look for on the field is Arthur Gildehaus ’15, who last played football his Lower year on the Junior Varsity team.
“[Gildehaus] is a great lacrosse player who will bring great athleticism—he’s not necessarily a great football player just yet, but he is a great athlete,” said Head Coach Leon Modeste.
This year’s team hopes to see success from its strong lineup of Post-Graduates in Dane Wagner ’15, Nick Forti ’15, AJ McFarlane ’15, Cameron Fryer ’15, Brendon Misterman ’15, Max Anthony ’15, Mike Panepinto ’15 and John McLaughlin ’15.
Other returning Seniors include Nicholas DiAdamo ’15, Alex Humphreys ’15, Achindra Krishna ’15 and Kurtis Weber ’15.
“We’re trying to set a good example [for the younger players]. Getting along with each other is really important because teamwork is obviously very important in football. Last year, that’s what worked really well for us—everyone meshed really well together. I think, [two years ago], the reason we had some difficulty was that a lot of us had natural talent but we didn’t necessarily work together. Right now, everyone’s getting along and it’s a good time,” said Humphreys.
Underclassmen will also be important to the team this year: the majority of starters will be upperclassmen, but the team will look to Lowers to provide depth in case of injury. Last season, players from the Class of 2016 combined for over 60 tackles on defense and amassed over 300 yards and a touchdown on the offensive side of the ball.
“We want to stay healthy, play hard, be good sports and get ready for the second Saturday in November… Our biggest goal, same as every year, is to beat Exeter,” said Modeste.
Andover Football will begin its 2014 season with a scrimmage against BB&N today at 5:00 p.m.