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Lifeless Redzone Offense Leads to Shutout Loss

Bursting past linemen on fourth and short with ten minutes left in the game, Post-Graduate (PG) James Antoine ’16 carried a shovel pass deep into Suffield’s territory. Despite Antoine’s gain late in the fourth quarter, Andover Football was stopped on the goalline by a suffocating Suffield defense on Saturday. Andover struggled to convert in the redzone throughout the 7-0 loss to an undefeated Suffield. Andover’s inability to score resulted in its second loss of the season, bringing its season record to 3-2.

Saturday’s game was a defensive battle, with the two teams struggling to put points on the scoreboard. While both teams’ defensive strategies were well-executed, Andover’s offense found it difficult to kickstart its typically potent run game behind an injury-weakened offensive line.

Missing typical stalwarts Keegan Cummings ’17 and Jack Legler ’17, Andover relied on young lineman such as Michael Codrington ’18 and Arthur Paleologos ’17.

Head Coach Leon Modeste said, “We didn’t have very many offensive highlights, because we didn’t score. However, I would say that Antoine’s shovel pass that took us down into Suffield territory late in the game was a highlight.”

Despite success on third down, Andover simply could not finish its drives upon entering Suffield territory. Newcomer Codrington said, “Our quarterback, Robert Jones [’16], was able to get off quality short passes that converted some third downs. However, it ultimately was just not enough.”

Two close calls nearly put Andover ahead late in the game, when Jack Belluche ’16 nearly secured a pass from Jones in the back corner of the end zone, and Ben Anthony ’16 came close to scoring off a screen. Anthony had seemingly secured a pass, but the officials determined that he had bobbled the ball and didn’t maintain control of it.

Coach Modeste said, “We thought that [Anthony] scored a touchdown, but the official said that it wasn’t a touchdown because he had apparently bobbled it.”
Although the team struggled to produce effectively on its offensive side, Andover’s defense excelled, forcing two fumbles and accruing two sacks. Thanks to a stout defensive effort, the teams entered halftime in a scoreless game, until Suffield scored the first touchdown of the game with seven minutes left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Coach Modeste said, “The defensive highlights were all over the place. [Co-Captain] John Simourian ’16 played a great game in the middle, as did [Antoine]. Our defensive secondary was just about perfect. Our line play was great and our tackles did a really good job playing up front. They only scored seven points, so that’s a great defensive performance, especially against an undefeated team, which was pretty awesome.”

Simourian said, “Everyone on our defensive line played great, and we were able to shut down some of the leading rushers on our opponent’s end.”
Cummings, who plays on both the offensive and defensive lines, said, “Our defense did a really good job at bending, but not breaking. We gave up some big plays, but we really locked down Suffield’s offense when they got close to our end zone.”

Despite the team’s loss, Andover looks to improve certain areas of its offensive and defensive game. Specifically, the team is hoping to work on protecting its quarterback and allowing more room for bigger plays to be made.

Coach Modeste said, “There are a lot of things we need to work on. Against Suffield, we should’ve been able to throw better. We should’ve been able to protect our quarterback more. [Jones] got sacked six times, which is just not acceptable. He’s a really good quarterback, but no quarterback can throw when he’s on his back. So, we needed to give him a little more time, which is what we’re working on this week.”

Cummings said, “Our offensive line has to improve on staying on blocks and opening up lanes for our running backs to go through, and that should be the emphasis in practice this week. We cannot be a one-dimensional offense and still expect to win games.”

With a 3-2 record, Andover hopes to end its regular season on a high note. In preparation for the team’s game on Saturday against Deerfield, an undersized Andover team looks to focus on speed and agility to top its opponents.

Coach Modeste said, “Well, Deerfield is a big and strong team. We’re always undersized up front – we’re always smaller than everybody that we play. So, hopefully our guys can be a bit quicker and our line’s going to have to do a better job of protecting [Jones]. Our receivers are also going to have to get out in space a little more quickly, so that the quarterback can deliver the ball without waiting for them to break. We’re going to try and do some quick stuff and spread our players out a little bit because our opponents are just so big in size. We’ve also had some injuries, so we’ll have to make some changes to our lineup.”

Antoine said, “For Deerfield, we’re going to have to treat our opponents like every other game. Every week is a big game, and we have to go out hitting hard and playing with intensity to shut them out early.