By David Willis
The Andover Townsman
---- — With the first true snow of the year having fallen, and the sound of cheers at Eugene V. Lovely Field now officially replaced by the noise of wind sprints in Dunn Gym, the Collins Field House and local hockey rinks, it is clear that the season has changed.
With winter having now all but officially arrived, it is time to reflect on a tremendous fall at Andover High, which saw one team continue its decade-plus of dominance over the state, while a trio of other teams made runs at state titles and individuals delivered dramatic moments and tremendous stats.
So, before we turn the page to the winter season, here’s a look back at the 2012 fall in Andover High sports.
No matter how many titles she wins, it has certainly never grown old for iconic Mass. swimming coach Marilyn Fitzgerald.
This fall, her Golden Warriors claimed their fourth straight Division 1 state meet title, and 13th in the last 14 years.
Leading the way was USC-bound star Maggie D’Innocenzo, who won the 200 freestyle (1:51.66) and repeating in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.67), along with leading the victorious 400 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams in the state meet.
The Golden Warriors were also paced by the likes of Ashlee and Alexa Korsberg, diver Deborah Daly and a wide range of contributing stars.
It was a historic season for the Andover football team, which claimed its second Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 title in three seasons and made its second postseason appearance since 1975.
The Golden Warriors finished the season 10-2, tying for the program’s best record since The Andover Townsman began keeping records in 1982.
Andover was a win against Lowell away from its second undefeated regular season in school history (11-0, 1974).
Simply said, the girls volleyball team was unbeatable this regular season.
The Golden Warriors finished the regular season a stunning 21-0, ending the year 23-1 and advancing to the Division 1 state semifinals for the second time in three seasons.
Andover swept 17 of its matches, and were pushed to five games just three times, twice by archrival Central Catholic and once by North Andover, a team it later swept in the North final.
That may well have been the swan song for 22-year coach George Sullivan, who won his 400th game during the season. As of Thanksgiving, the 71-year-old said he was leaning towards retirement, but had not yet made a final decision.
While the field hockey team could not complete a Division 1 state title three-peat, the Golden Warriors continued to dominate this fall.
They finished 14-3-3, including an eight-game winning streak. Chelmsford proved to be the lone true thorn in their side, beating them in the regular season and tourney.
No one knows how quickly sports can swing from terrific to terrible better than Andover receiver/defensive back Andrew Deloury.
As a junior, he had a dream day with two interceptions in a win over Methuen — one where he emulated idol Deion Sanders with a waltz into the end zone. Just days later, he was on the operating table for a pre-planned surgery for fused bones in my left foot.
He was left on the sidelines for the rest of that season, but he certainly came back with a bang this fall.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pounder was a dominant force on both sides of the ball. He caught 33 passes for 511 yards and eight touchdowns, all third in Andover’s prolific attack, while finishing four on the team in tackles (49) and third in interceptions (2).
From the time she was a youngster, Olivia Biles consistently dealt shoulder problems. But for years, it was nothing other than annoying pain, and it did not hold her back as she emerged as starting goalie for Andover soccer as a freshman and sophomore.
But that all came to a stop when a basketball injury forced her to undergo surgery for a torn labrum, meaning she would miss her entire junior soccer season.
After a year of rehab, including a return for some of basketball season, Biles was back in action this fall for the soccer team. She was in net for all but two games this season, notching eight shutouts.
Leila Aruri thought her season may be over before it really took off this year.
During a dominant dual meet season, Aruri began to feel intense pain in her legs. Doctors believed it could be a stress fracture, which would have meant the end of her season and taken a major chunk out of her track season.
But after some rest and a ton of tests, Aruri was cleared to return to action. While still dealing with some pain, she delivered an impressive postseason.
Battling a terrible stomach illness the night before the Division 1 state meet, most worried superstar Ashlee Korsberg would not be able to participate in the season-ending title meet.
While she could not swim her individual events, the Harvard-bound senior pushed the illness aside and still contributed in a big way for the Warriors, swimming on the winning 400 freestyle relay and 200 freestyle relay that took second.
The MVC co-MVP set North sectional meet record in 200 freestyle (1:51.57) and won 500 freestyle (4:54.49).
A protruding disk in her back may have cost Sarah Gustus her playing career, but it certainly could not take her spirit.
Instead of walking away, she became an indispensable part of the Golden Warriors’ team this year, serving as the team manager and unofficial assistant coach.
Making their own name
Following in a legend’s footsteps is never easy. Just ask Andover senior Molly Cronin, the younger sister of record-setting high jumper and volleyball star Moira Cronin.
“Tough is an understatement,”Molly with a chuckle. “It could be really hard being Moira’s younger sister. But I love her and it was great experiencing so much with her.”
Thanks to plenty of hard work and persistence, Molly made a name for herself this year as a star for the volleyball team.
The 6-foot-1 Cronin finished third on the team in kills (119), including seven in the state semifinal loss to Newton North, and was second in blocks (73) and solo blocks (53).
No name is more synonymous with Andover football than Farnham. After all, how often do you hear of a school retiring a number, as Andover football plans to do for the family’s No. 46, simply due to excellence.
But there is certainly no questioning the place Cam Farnham carved out in the family legacy.
The senior emerged as one of the most dynamic receivers in the state this fall, leading the Golden Warriors and Eastern. Mass in touchdown catches (11), running two more kicks back for scores and finished second on the team with 35 receptions and 548 receiving yards.
The 5-foot-6, 141-pound speedster’s biggest day was on Thanksgiving, when he had 102 receiving yards including a key 77-yard touchdown.
Lauren Gibson waited three years for her shot, and when she earned it this season took advantage.
The 5-foot-7 senior went from reserve to All-Conference selection this season, finishing second on the team in kills (159) and digs (70).
Golfer Brett Krekorian made a major statement at the Division 1 state meet this fall. The junior shot a sizzling 35 on the back nine at Norton Country Club to give him an 18-hole total of 79, good for a team-best eighth on the day.
As the numbers grew, and the accolades began to flow in, Andover QB C.J. Scarpa earned the nickname “Golden Arm” from his teammates for his accomplishments — and to embarrass the reserved senior a bit.
But Scarpa certainly did have a golden season.
The 5-foot-9 (maybe), 162-pounder shattered the Andover High record with 32 touchdown passes, while throwing for a stunning 2,622 yards. He also rushed for eight touchdowns and was picked off just seven times, including just five in 11 regular-season games.
He threw at least two touchdowns in every regular-season game, including five against North Andover, and accounted for all three touchdowns on Thanksgiving.
While Scarpa set records throwing the ball, Will Heikkinen did the same on the receiving end.
The senior finished the year with a stellar 1,126 receiving yards — or 93.8 yards per game — on 67 receptions to go with nine touchdowns. His biggest day was a 194-yard effort against Gloucester.
Mostly considered an offensive weapon, Heikkinen also did the job at cornerback. The 6-foot-1, 193-pounder grabbed a team-high five interceptions, including three in a win over Billerica.
Asked to take on a new role this season, Meagan Keefe knew her numbers would take a hit. But, once again, the senior proved that — like opposing defenses — nothing was going to stop her from scoring.
Keefe finished her senior season as the Golden Warrior’s top scorer with 17 goals and 11 assists, giving her a whopping 50 goals over her final two years and 60 for her career.
Her aggressive style in front of the net earned her the nickname “The Rat.”
Liz Wait doubted she would even make the Andover High varsity volleyball team as a junior after being a backup on the JV team as a sophomore.
A year later, she earned MVC Division 1 co-MVP and was named one of the top 15 Division 1 players from across the state by the Massachusetts Coaches Association.
The senior led the Golden Warriors in kills (188), total blocks (112) and solo blocks (761). She had 17 kills in a win over archrival Central Catholic.