EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 28, 2013

Raider Redemption

ESPN embarrassment inspires Andover blowout

High School Football
Hector Longo

---- — ANDOVER -- About the only people remotely close to the Central Catholic football team with a smile on their faces this week had to be the English teachers.

Their Raiders broke out all the classics when it came to describing the anguish, despair and humiliation surrounding last week’s loss to St. John’s Prep.

Last night, Andover High felt just how serious the Raiders were about putting any memory of Johnny Thomas, ESPN’s SportsNation or that 107-yard interception return/lowlight reel in the rear-view mirror.

Central pounded the hosts, 26-7.

“You know losing is bad enough, but to wake up the next morning and see it on TV, we were crushed,” said nose guard Jorge Elias.

“It was embarrassing, a bad, bad day for Central Catholic football. Tonight, we showed we still have our pride. And we gave Coach A (Chuck Adamopoulos) back his dignity.”

Yes, morale and honor had sunk to the deepest depths on Hampshire Street this past week.

Markus Edmunds had a huge fumble in the loss to the Prep and gave hardly a first-rate effort on Thomas’ runback. He could only stomach watching the video once.

“Essentially, we were posterized nationally,” said Edmunds. “I was disgusted by it. It left a real bad taste in my mouth. Even my friends made fun of us for it.”

As I watched the Raiders hold Andover to a mere 45 yards of offense in a lopsided 14-0 first half, all I could think of was Charles Jefferson’s performance for Ridgemont High in the 1980s movie class, “Fast Times.”

Only it wasn’t “crushed by Jefferson, mauled by Jefferson. ... ripped, smothered, crumpled by Jefferson.”

It was “hammered by Edmunds ... buried by (Mike) Balsamo ... blown up by D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie.”

And the list went on and on as the Raider redemption went final.

“The entire MVC was talking about it and disrespecting us,” said Edmunds. “Tonight, we showed we’re no joke. We’re too good a team to be embarrassed like that on national TV. Too good a team.”

Adamopoulos, who was as low as he’s been after a regular season loss, has to be thrilled with the effort.

Mid-second quarter last week, he yanked Elias off the field and took his starting job away. The 5-11, 197-pound junior was placed in a fight to earn the position back this week in practice, basically because, “he’s a nose guard, but looked like he was back playing safety last week,” said Adamopoulos.

“I was just very disappointed in myself,” said Elias. “But I came back in practice with a good attitude, and I was ready to compete for it.”

With the rest of the MVC Large schedule ahead, the competition had better not be counting on the Raiders to rest now.

Amid the post-game euphoria last night was starting center Justin Landry -- No. 77 on the Thomas return video if you care to take one last look at the carnage.

“This helps, and it’s so important to move forward,” said Landry. “But that was something we thought about all week every day.”

And the pain lingers.

“It’s not quite closed yet,” said Edmunds. “We will close the door at the end of the season. Hopefully, we’re focused on winning the MVC. And maybe we can get another shot at St. John’s in the playoffs. We definitely would like one more chance to pay them back for humiliating all of us nationally.”