Andover football lost everyone from its 2012 Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 championship team ... right?
Andover is spending 2013 rebuilding and planning for future seasons ... right?
Anyone that believes the Golden Warriors are out of the race this season apparently has not seen MVC All-Star running back Jack Sylvester.
Led by its dynamic 1,000-yard rusher and a formidable defense fronted by linebackers Will Eikenberry and Brian Duffy and defensive back Brandon Marti, the Warriors appear poised to once again contend for the MVC Division 1 title and a play-off spot in the newly reconfigured MIAA football scene.
“You should never sleep on Andover,” lineman Ben Hartford said. “I feel like we have the best defense in the state, and yeah, our offense has a lot of young guys, but they can play and we feel like that will be a strength, too. We are feeling great going into the season.”
That will be put to the test this Friday, Sept. 6, when Andover opens the regular season by traveling down the road to North Andover to face the rival Scarlet Knights.
Hartford is not alone in his assessment of his team.
“We definitely hear the doubters,” Sylvester said. “I know we aren’t ranked in the top 25 in the state (or in Eastern Mass.). I also know that we should be ranked. And not in the 20s. When people see us play, they will see we can compete with anyone.”
Many spectators scratched their head when they first saw Sylvester jumping over defenders early in his debut varsity season of 2012.
But the halfback soon proved he had much more than just impressive leaping ability.
Andover may have had a reputation as a pass-first squad last season, with record-setting QB C.J. Scarpa and receivers Will Heikkinen, Cam Farnham and Andrew Deloury posting monster numbers. But Sylvester did plenty of damage on the ground.