Andover’s football team had a renaissance year of sorts that led to a 6-3 record before an early exit in the playoffs ended their otherwise strong season.
But now, the Trojans will have to fight off a slump for an encore. Andover doesn’t return a lot of experience, and the team has its third difference head coach in three seasons.
Cade Armstrong enters the 2017 season as a first-year head coach, and he’s hoping he’ll be able to infuse some excitement with his new players, most of whom will be new to the scene under the Friday night lights.
“Our offense only returns one true starter (Ben Smith), but that opens up competition and gives opportunities for younger kids to make an impact on Friday nights,” Armstrong said. “We will be very young on offense, so that will be a weakness for sure.”
The younger lineup will have to learn a whole new system, as well. Smith has potential to be the team’s most reliable receiver; he’s a 6-foot-1 senior. The Trojans will have to develop their running game after losing two huge playmakers from a year ago.
Armstrong is hopeful that the team’s defense can keep them in a lot of games. The Trojans have seven key returners who are seniors and another returner who is a junior, so there’s much more experience on that side of the football.
“…We will rely on them to be the backbone of our team this season,” Armstrong said of the defense.
Michael VanArsdale is a 6-foot, 260 pound defensive nose tackle who hopefully will require double teams and allow the rest of the defensive players to do their thing. Casey Mayes and Grant Staehr are linebackers who can cover a lot of ground and make tackles. Mayes is an all-around great athlete who is signed to play baseball at Michigan State next year.
Senior Preston Drake and junior Alex Jones give the Trojans plenty of depth at the linebacker positions.
In the backfield, senior Brent Alfaro will be a top cornerback who probably will handle opposing team’s top receivers. Senior Kale Richel will line up at free safety.