Through the first four games of the 2013 high school football season, Jack Sylvester’s senior year simply had not played out as he had imagined.
“Heartbreaking,” he said.
Game 5, however, was a very different story.
The Golden Warriors’ running back was back to his dominant self for the first time all year last Friday, shredding Billerica for 217 yards and three touchdowns. He was complemented by a tremendous defensive effort on the way to a 36-7 drubbing of Billerica on Friday, snapping a three-game losing streak.
“Finally!” he said after the game. “I finally feel like myself again. I had the injury and then made the huge mistake. So it feels so good to be back running and helping the guys again.”
Sylvester opened Andover’s first drive last Friday night with a 21-yard catch, then a play later broke free for a 39-yard touchdown. After a three-and-out for the Indians, Sylvester took his second carry of the day to the house for a 25-yard touchdown.
“That first big run was huge,” said Sylvester, who sat out Game 1 of the year with an ankle injury that hobbled him for Game 2, and two personal fouls against Central Catholic led to a suspension against Chelmsford. “I felt like, ‘OK, I am back. Now I can play football.’”
He finished the first half with 185 yards on just 11 carries — a 16.8-yard average — well over his output from the first four weeks combined.
“He was unbelievable,” lineman Ben Hartford said. “He is our running game. He is the most powerful running back around.”
The Golden Warrior defense was also plenty powerful against Billerica.
Andover allowed just 4 rushing yards, and the majority of Billerica’s 133 passing yards came late in the fourth with the game well in hand.
Will Eikenberry continued to dominate with 12 tackles while Cole Organisciak and Ommel Bonilla each had a sack and John Oteri and Brandon Marti each had an interception, which set up a touchdown.
“This win is huge for us,” Oteri said. “We went down 1-3 and that was rough. But to bounce back with a big MVC win like this helps make the playoff picture a little more realistic.”
Andover 36, Billerica 7
Andover (2-3): 15 7 7 7 — 36
Billerica (0-5): 0 0 0 7 — 7
A — Jack Sylvester 39 run (Ryan Payne kick), 7:30
A — Sylvester 25 run (Kenny Doherty pass from E.J. Perry IV), 4:55
A — Christopher Nicholas 21 pass from Perry (Payne kick), 3:59
A — Sylvester 2 run (Payne kick), 5:18
A — Will Eikenberry 3 run (Payne kick), 9:52
B — Jordan Bolarinho 2 run (Jeff Trainor kick), 5:17
RUSHING: A (32-306) — Jack Sylvester 17-217, Will Eikenberry 3-34, Oliver Eberth 4-36, Brandon Marti 1-8, E.J. Perry IV 1-6, Connor McCullough 3-5, Tyler Ferris 3-0; B (13-4) — Justin Beck 1-4, Nick Orekoya 7-3, Jordan Bolarinho 5-(-3)
PASSING: A — Eberth 8-12-1, 83, Perry 2-5-0, 26, McCullough 1-2-0, 6; B — Bolarinho 10-22-2, 133
RECEIVING: A — Christopher Nicholas 2-43, Sylvester 1-21, Alex Marshall 3-22, Brandon Marti 3-21, John Oteri 1-5, Eikenberry 1-3; B — Kevin Casey 4-57, John Smith 1-45, Drew Laundry 3-22, Jake Climo 2-9