Entering Andover/Exeter Weekend with a 2-6 record, Andover Football is looking to end its season with a win this Saturday, despite being the underdogs to highly-ranked Phillips Exeter Academy. After a season of steady improvement, A/E serves as Andover Football’s final opportunity to showcase its efforts this season, as the team did not qualify for playoffs.
Co-Captain Aidan Porter ’23 emphasized the depth of Exeter’s team, composed of numerous Division 1 collegiate commits. As one of the top teams in the New England Preparatory School Football Association this season, with a 6-1 record, Exeter is expected to pose a very difficult challenge for Andover.
“They’re heading to the Bowl Games, so on paper, they are one of our toughest opponents all season. I mean just preparing in general for them and just knowing they have a really good record. They’ve beat some really good teams this year. They have a really good recruiting class coming in this year. Numerous [Ivy League] commits and other guys that have very good offers right now,” said Porter.
Although Exeter boasts a strong record, Andover still has hope, understanding that its preparations leading up to the matchup will determine the result, according to Co-Captain Andrew DeBenedictis ’23. DeBenedictis believes that focusing on the small details will be imperative to the team’s success against Exeter.
“Right now, I just think we need to be [extremely] locked in. Exeter is a really, really good team. They beat a lot of teams that we lost to, but it’s a rivalry game. Anything can happen. So we just really need to be detailed this week, watch a lot of film, and really have our best practices of the season so far. So it really all comes down to this week if we can execute. I think there’s a chance,” said DeBenedictis.
Co-Captain Joe Carrara ’24 shared a similar sentiment to DeBenedictis, emphasizing quality over quantity. By taking on one aspect of the game at a time, the team prevents mental blocks or overwhelming pressure, according to Carrara.
“Taking care of the little things [is important] because maybe we try to do something that’s too big, but if we just do our job and take care of the little things, that’s all that matters. That’s what we have to do to play a good game,” said Carrara.
Despite losing to Suffield Academy the week prior, the team is still riding the momentum of its win against Deerfield two weeks ago, hoping to bring similar energy and play to Saturday’s game. According to DeBenedictis, the team is entering this year’s matchup against Exeter with more confidence than in last year’s 6-37 loss.
“The win against Deerfield definitely showed that we are capable of competing with these high-level teams. Even though we lost to Suffield, we made it a game. We’ve been close a lot recently, so I think our confidence level is way higher than last year, and I think that gives us at least a little more of an edge compared to last year going into the Exeter game,” said DeBenedictis.
Andover Football will face-off against Exeter this Saturday at 3:00 p.m. in the Phelps Stadium.