The Trojans have had trouble adjusting to 5A football in the last two years, but have some strong talent returning for another shot at recapturing the winning ways at Andover.
Coach: Mike Lee (6th season at Andover, 26-23 record)
2011 Recap: 1-8 overall, 1-4 in the Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division II, 0-3 in districts.
The past two seasons have been a struggle for Andover. In 2011, Andover’s offense scored at least 21 points in five of its nine games, but hit a four-game stretch in the middle of the season in which it could only muster a combined 6 points. In the games where the Trojans were scoring, the defense couldn’t keep up, allowing 34.9 points per game, resulting in a tough year.
Returning Starters: Offensive 5, Defensive 5
Returning Lettermen: 16
2012 District: at Valley Center, at Emporia, Newton
The Andover offense had its moments last season, both good and bad. For the Trojans to be competitive week in and week out they will need to develop some consistency. In 2011, Andover averaged 15.6 points per game, a number that was brought down significantly during four games in the middle of the season in which the Trojans were shut out three times and only scored 6 points in the other. Take those four games out of the mix and Andover’s average was 26.8 points per game.
The quest to build on the positive and minimize the hiccups will begin with a strong Andover backfield. Chase Ogden is a returning senior who was productive last season as a junior running back. He will be joined at running back by his senior classmate Mason Biberstein who will be a threat on the ground as well.
At quarterback, the Trojans will once again look to Nick Hess. As a sophomore, Hess stepped on to the varsity playing field, and got some experience under his belt. This season, coach Mike Lee is looking to see improvement as the quarterback continues to reach a potential Lee is excited about.
On the line of scrimmage, Andover will have a couple of experienced leaders to clear the way for the offense. Jared Rogers is returning to the offensive line as a senior. AJ Scholfield is a junior coming back to the offensive line to help Rogers in a leadership role. Senior tight end Conner White gives the Trojans not only an extra blocker but a threat in the passing game as well, bringing a 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame into the mix.
Simply put, Andover’s defense has to be better in order for the Trojans to see an improvement in the win column. Last year, the Trojans gave up 34.9 points per game, putting pressure on their offense to keep up. In the three district games alone, Andover allowed opponents to score 137 total points.
Andover will have a lot of strength in its experience on the defensive line. Seniors Conner White, and Noah Harkness will hold down the interior with fellow senior Dee Davis handling the outside at defensive end.
Mason Biberstein and Chase Ogden give the Trojans a pair of seniors in the secondary. Andover will need players to step up at linebacker to allow the defense to take advantage of its strength on the defensive line.
Odds and Ends:
With continued improvement offensively, and a dedication to changing the identity of its defense, Andover has the potential to get its 5A fortunes turned around. It is not as though this team didn’t have its moments last year.
In Week 3, Andover held Valley Center to 8 points in the Trojans’ lone win of the season. The very next week the defense put in another good performance, holding Maize to 14 points.
Andover’s new district this year features the addition of a tough Emporia program, but a couple of familiar foes are in the mix as well. Since moving to Div. II two years ago, two of the Trojans’ three total wins have come against Valley Center. Andover will face the Hornets in the new district. Newton is another team the Trojans will see in districts that present a familiar challenge. Andover played the Railers to within 9 points in 2010, but came up 22 points shy last year.