Having just wrapped up a challenging regular season, Andover High football could be intimidated as is looks towards a massive challenge in the first round of the state tournament.
But the Golden Warriors are far from hanging their heads with the postseason about to kick off.
“We love it,” said coach E.J. Perry III. “We are ready to take on anyone. We just want to get out there and play.”
Andover (3-4) is the No. 7 seed in the Division 1 North tournament, and will kick off postseason play on Friday when it travels to take on No. 2 seed Lexington at 7 p.m.
It is a challenging draw for the Warriors, as Lexington heads into the playoffs 7-0, having just locked up the Middlesex Conference Liberty Division championship.
But Perry has full faith in his team.
“I think we have show that, if we play to our potential, we can play with any team in the state,” said the coach. “We just have to play a complete game.”
Squaring off in this contest will be a pair of potential All-Scholastic quarterbacks, who are both headed to play sports at Boston College.
Behind center for Andover will — of course — be record-setting E.J. Perry IV.
The reigning All-Scholastic Boston College recruit has thrown for 2,028 yards and 28 touchdowns. He has also shown off his legs of late. After staying in the pocket for much of his career, Perry IV has displayed nifty moves as a runner, rushing for 498 yards and 7 TDs, including two scores against Central Catholic last week.
On the opposite side of the field on Friday will be the player that ranks second in Division 1 North in touchdowns passes behind Perry, Boston College baseball commit Sal Frelick.
Frelick, a duel-thread QB, has thrown for 15 touchdowns and rushed for 14 scores. He totaled 270 yards of offense and four scores to clinch Lexington’s first league title since 2004 with a 41-27 win over Belmont.
He recently told the Boston Globe that Lexington was “Absolutely” prepared to take on Division 1 competition after moving up into the division in the offseason.
Frelick’s favorite weapons include Spencer Kendall (7 TD receptions) and Ben Quint (five touchdowns).
Andover has been slowed a bit by the absence of superstar wide receiver Dan Gemmell, who has missed the last three games with a leg injury. But the Warriors are far from without firepower.
Stepping up at receiver in Gemmell’s absence have been the duo of Joe Rockwell (588 yards, 8 TDs receiving) and Cedric Gillette (579 yards, 6 TDs receiving) as Perry IV’s top receiving threats. Joining Perry IV running the ball has been running back Jeremy Travagini (471 yards, five touchdowns).
“They are a spread team that spreads it out to run and we are a spread team that spreads it out to throw,” said Perry III. “So it is a battle of two very different spread offenses.”
Leading the Andover defense is linebacker Mikey Comeau (38 tackles, 16 solo, 2.5 sacks), Phil Menihtas (40 tackles) and Malique Mejia (37 tackles). Gillette has a team-best two interceptions and Perry IV ran a pick back for a touchdown against Central.
The Golden Warriors now need a win if they hope to stay alive in the Division 1 North tournament, and advance to the North semifinals to take on the winner of No. 3 St. John’s Prep and No. 6 Acton-Boxboro.
“We know that we are a good team,” said Perry III. “We have had too many games where we have only played one good half. If we can play a complete game, we are confident we have the ability to beat any team.”
Reach sportswriter/videographer David Willis on Twitter at @DWillisET