On the opening kickoff, Matt Whalen ’16 received the ball and promptly took it 44 yards down the sideline. This promising start pushed Andover Football to its first win of the season, a 20-6 victory over Cushing Academy on Saturday.
After struggling to move the ball offensively in the first quarter, Jack Belluche ’16, in his first game back from a broken wrist, took control of the game in the second quarter. He scored an offensive and defensive touchdown to put Andover ahead 13-6 at halftime.
In addition to returning an interception for a touchdown, Belluche scored on a touchdown pass from Travis Lane ’18. Belluche added 54 yards receiving, three tackles and another interception late in the game.
“Belluche played great [on] both sides of the ball — he caught a touchdown [on offense], he scored a touchdown [on defense] and he almost got one on a kick [return]. It would have been great if he scored on offense, defense and special teams, but he did a good job covering his assignments [on defense] and being a threat on offense,” said Head Coach Leon Modeste.
With Andover only leading by one score late in the game, Max Anthony ’15 busted into the endzone on a two-yard rush in the fourth quarter to make the score 20-6.
“The big thing was that we forced turnovers. Their team had five turnovers, and we just had one, and of course one of those turnovers was an interception for a touchdown. Whenever you are able score on defense, that’s just awesome,” said Modeste.
On the defensive end, Andover had several players step up, including Dane Wagner ’15, Captain Rob Needham ’15 and Cameron Fryer ’15. The trio combined for 35 tackles, with Wagner and Needham adding an interception apiece. Wagner also had one sack.
“We stopped the run really well on defense and forced them to pass, which then turned into the interceptions from a lot of balls in the air,” said Whalen.
Needham said, “It wasn’t a single person who stepped up — we really played well as a team.”
The team got Belluche back from injury but still had a number of starters watching on from the sidelines.
“It’s really tough being injured from my experience. We’ve had a lot of key players injured, but we are not letting that be an excuse or a distraction. It’s just that the next guy needs to step up,” wrote Taylor Beckett ’17 in an email to The Phillipian.
The team hopes to make some minor adjustments and continue to work hard at holding assignments, perfecting plays and working together in practice throughout the week.
“People realized they had to step up and take positions as leaders on the team, which I think will help us carry on and win more games,” said Belluche.
Andover has had a promising season, and their hard work finally payed off as a win against Cushing on Saturday. As players get healthier, the team looks to continue improving away at Suffield on Saturday.
“Suffield is big. They are huge. They are bigger than we are up front, but our big guys are quick, so we’re going to try and [outrun] them. We are hoping that our quickness can neutralize their size. We hope to be the matador rather than the bull,” Modeste said.