By Matt Feld, HockomockSports.com Contributor
If there is a team that is the polar opposite of King Philip, it is unquestionably North Andover.
From the start of the 2018 season the Scarlet Knights have been nothing short of a runaway train using their speed, athleticism, and quickness to blow away the competition. They enter Friday night’s Division 2 Super Bowl a perfect 11-0, having been in a one possession game just once this season – a 14-7 win over Division 1 North finalist Central Catholic.
Leading the Scarlet Knights is dual threat quarterback Jake McElroy. McElroy, a three-sport varsity athlete, is dangerous when he breaks contain with an ability to throw on the run and scramble for long gains. Surrounding McElroy is a bevy of highly talented weapons led by Darren Watson and Gabe DeSouza. Junior Freddy Gabin handles the load at running back.
While the Scarlet Knights are most known for their offensive firepower, their defense has been equally as impressive. Allowing just over 11 points per game this season, North Andover is buoyed by a fast pass rush, a strong linebacking core, and good cover corners.
Mike Roche has emerged as a star at defensive end, while Keegan Hardacre and Ryan Slattery provide depth at linebacker. Watson and DeSouza are the focal points of the secondary with both being able to generate points off turnovers.
Many have made the comparison of North Andover to last year’s Lincoln-Sudbury team, who came into Gillette Stadium riding a wave of hype due to its utter dominance in the lead up to the Super Bowl. To compare the two teams, however, is a mistake. The Warriors largely were successful due to their ability to overpower teams up front with a strong offensive line and physical backs. When they met King Philip in the Super Bowl, they finally faced off against a team who was also willing to play power football.
This year’s North Andover team, however, is built on an up-tempo, quick style of play. They are explosive, with the capability of scoring three or more touchdowns in a matter of minutes.
In order for King Philip to contain the Scarlet Knights attack the first few minutes will be crucial. If the Warriors can punch North Andover in the mouth early and make it a game the Scarlet Knights are not used to be playing, they have an opportunity to put themselves in a position to come away with a late victory.
On the other hand, if the Scarlet Knights receive big plays from their talented skill guys from the outset, they will be too explosive to slow down. Look for the 10 minute quarters to play a major factor.
Ryan Lanigan: King Philip
Josh Perry: King Philip
Matt Bosh: King Philip
Jeff Pickette: King Philip
Ryan Lanigan: 57-35
Josh Perry: 70-22
Matt Bosh: 72-20
Jeff Pickette: 63-29