EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

November 28, 2012

Groveland's O'Leary wins 200th at Prep

(Continued)

Game ball to Heikkinen

My game ball on the Andover side goes to receiver Will Heikkinen, who was involved in an absolutely crucial play late in the third quarter.

Down 7-0, Andover was moving but facing a 3rd-and-9 from the Prep 34. Heikkinen pulled in a C.J. Scarpa pass and accelerated down the sideline for 21 yards and a first.

But at the end of the play, he met two Prep defenders. Heikkinen kept straining for every inch, like a champion, but a third Prep defender, Alex Moore, swooped in to rip the ball free.

Was Heikkinen’s forward progress stopped? Absolutely.

Was he down before the ball came loose? From across the field, it sure looked like it.

But the officials ruled a fumble, and the Prep took over, then went for and got the kill with Jon Thomas scoring two more times.

Heikkinen left it all on the field. He deserved a better fate, and maybe even a better call.

Odds and ends

Freshman Ian Kessel of Haverhill came in to finish the job in the backfield as Jon Thomas’ backup. A good-looking young runner, Kessel carried four times for 23 yards. ...

Prep Coach Jim O’Leary on Andover:

“Andover is well coached. We’ve seen a lot of teams run that (spread) offense, but not like them, and the quarterback (Scarpa) is the key. (Coach E.J. Perry) is doing everything right. With the new playoff system, we’re going to see them more often, and I’m looking forward to that.”

O’Leary on Thomas’ best play in a litany of huge ones last night: “How was that hit on the fourth down play (stopping C.J. Scarpa in an open-field one-on-one at the marker)?”

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