Early in the first quarter, Aidan Porter ’23 forced Taft’s quarterback to fumble due to a tactical strip-sack. Andover Football successfully recovered the ball and scored a touchdown in the following offensive drive. Despite earning an early 7-0 lead, the team struggled to find the endzone late in the game in a potentially game-tying drive, resulting in a 23-30 loss to Taft. The team’s record now stands at 1-2.
According to Adrian Morrison ’23 and Porter, Taft was a team that was neither too strong nor too weak–a perfect matchup for Andover after the grueling loss to Loomis Chaffee. Both sides were able to take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.
“Taft had a couple good players that helped move them offensively and defensively as well, but mainly offensively. I think we also, as a team, made a lot of mistakes collectively, and [Taft] was able to capitalize off that,” said Morrison.
“I think our offensive line did a really great job with opening up holes for [Cato Legaspi ’22], our running back, to get into open space and make some moves. And then defensively, I think we did a really great job making some decent stops against a pretty touted run game Taft has,” added Porter.
Playing its last game two weeks ago, Andover went into the game as the underdogs and wanted to prove the skill and strength it gained from the extra time to prepare, according to Morrison.
Morrison said, “I feel like our main goal was just to win. We came into the game as the underdogs [because] the ‘Eagle-Tribune’ had predicted that we would lose 20-29. I think that definitely motivated the team a bit because Taft had a bunch of guys who had D1 offers. We didn’t have much of that, and they [also] had home-field advantage. We had more to prove in this game just because there were people already [doubting] us before really seeing us [play].”
According to Connor Aalto ’22 and Porter, the long bus ride also stood as an obstacle for the team in terms of maintaining fresh legs and amping up the team energy.
“One challenge we always face on road games like Taft is the bus ride. We were much more likely to cramp up after sitting down in the bus for [three] hours. The long bus ride means everyone has to really emphasize their stretching and nutrition,” said Aalto.
“It’s really tough to get people fired up when you’re on a three-hour bus ride for an away game, but once you get on that field, I think it’s an instinct in everybody that [there is] a switch that turns on… I think our captains do a really great job getting us fired up before the games, so we were feeling pretty good,” Porter added.
Despite being the underdogs and facing unpreventable challenges, many individual players contributed to the team’s success, according to Morrison and Kevin Flores Blackmore ’23.
“Every time [Legaspi] ran, he was always falling forward and moving the ball forward. He ran really strong, and that gave us a lot of the yards we needed. [Jesse McCullough ’22] is always a solid player, and he did well both offensively and defensively. Defensively, he had a couple of clutch catches,” said Morrison.
Flores Blackmore added, “[C.J. Egrie ’22] and [Emilio Lozada ’22] were some key players on defense. They had many open-field tackles and pass breakups. Our defense overall stuffed Taft multiple times.”
Despite the team feeling disappointed after the loss, these strong performances left it hopeful for the games ahead, according to Porter.
“Everyone was pretty upset; no one wants to travel three hours, lose a football game, then have to come back… But the thing is, everyone knows what we [did well and what] have to clean up, and I think everyone knows the mentality we have to have [come] into this week as far as preparation goes for [Williston Northampton.] We want to come out on top on Saturday,” said Porter.
Andover will look for a win away against Williston this Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Adrian Morrison ’23 is a Copy Associate for The Phillipian.