On Saturday, Andover Football competed against a strong BB&N team in an unscored scrimmage in preparation for its first game of the season against Loomis Chaffee this Saturday.
Head Coach Leon Modeste said, “BB&N is a tremendous team that will probably win their conference championship, and we have a lot of younger kids. The youngest group I’ve ever had, so I like how our kids competed. They never quit, they kept playing hard, and I’m proud of their performance, especially after one of our star players can’t go. But, that is football, that happens, and I think we did some really good things, we did some really awful things. We turned the ball over way too much with unnecessary things.”
Unlike the team’s first scrimmage against Brooks, this Saturday’s scrimmage was a ‘game condition’ scrimmage. According to Coach Modeste, Saturday’s scrimmage gave the team a better opportunity to try out new plays and lineups in preparation for its first scored game against Loomis, which has already played its first game of the season.
Coach Modeste said, “Saturday, hopefully we’ll be ready for the first game. It is always difficult to have an opening game when the team that you’re about to play [had] a real game last week. They didn’t win, but now they’ve had game experience. So we were trying with BB&N, knowing they’re really good, trying to get some game experience. We played a half, limited rules, and we didn’t let the quarterbacks get jammed up too much. Saturday, it’s live. Hopefully that experience against BB&N will prepare us for the trip to Loomis.”
The scrimmage provided opportunities for the team to test out both new plays and new players in a risk-free environment, according to Defensive Coordinator Lou Bernieri.
Coach Bernieri said, “Scrimmages give us a chance to play a lot of players, to give young players experience. They give us the chance to see what plays work and why. We don’t have to worry about the score, so we can take risks. We’re a young and inexperienced team. We have some real talent. We can play with top level teams like BB&N.”
The team has welcomed 18 new players this year, many of whom have, after moving up from JV, already distinguished themselves as standout players according to Coach Modeste and Co-Captain Michael Thompson ’20.
Thompson wrote in an email to The Phillipian, “We have some new [Post-Graduates] this year and they are sure to impact both sides of the ball. Our starting tight end is a new Lower who has lots of size and speed, and we will try to get him the ball in open field. We also have some players who are not new to the school but new to the varsity program that have made big plays in the scrimmages so far and will be seeing major playing time this year.”
According to Coach Modeste, Post-Graduates Sal Lupoli ’19 and Magnus Voge ’19 have stepped up as leaders and set an example for younger players.
Ben Carbeau ’21 said, “The older guys have been really helpful to us new guys. They’ve been involving all of us really well. I’m really excited to see how the team comes together because I think we can do some big things. Hopefully we can get better on Saturday and be competitive for four quarters.”
While Andover may not have won the scrimmage, the game still featured several standout plays including a notable pass from quarterback Thompson to Jake Bedell ’19, a memorable run by Co-Captain Will Litton ’19, and Co-Captain Andrew Mazzone ’19 making an impact at a new position, according to Coach Modeste.
Many of Andover’s errors on Saturday resulted from a lack of experience among the team’s younger players, according to Coach Modeste. He says he believes that these initial mistakes will help the team improve its game in the long run, and while they may be disappointing in the moment, these errors serve as important learning opportunities for the team.
“The biggest thing is that we made some big mistakes — long passes — and mostly it was the young guys. The reality is you got to give up big plays. You just have to forget them. You have to forget it and go, next play. You have to get burned occasionally, and you learn from it. You get back up, you get back on the field and do better the next time,” said Modeste.
According to the coaches and players, Andover is both confident and enthusiastic in its ability to compete with a capable team like Loomis, especially after Saturday’s scrimmage.
New team member Graham Archer ’21 said, “We learned a lot from that scrimmage and hopefully we can use that to help work out our kinks and come ready to play against Loomis this Saturday. We have a lot of talent on the team this year, and if we can start operating smoothly, then we will be a force to be reckoned with.”
Coach Modeste added, “I think Loomis is a little more our size than BB&N up front, so hopefully, athletically — or at least size-wise — we’ll be more competitive. But I’m encouraged. I love the youth through our team, I love that we have 18 new players, including all the kids who came up from JV. It’s a very exciting time.”
The team will travel to Loomis on Saturday to play its season-opening game.