EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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December 14, 2012

North Andover set for new challenge

The common theme in boys hoop circles, was that if North Andover was ever to make the mover to the Merrimack Valley Conference, 2011 was the year for it to happen.

Zach Karalis, Jimmy Warden, Mike Moroney and Colby Smith anchored a monster senior class.

The move comes one year too late, right?

“Forget it. In my eyes, North Andover, right now, is as talented as any team in our league right now,” said Central Catholic coach Rick Nault. “Believe me, they’re a team to beat. They’ll fit right in.”

Which North Andover team is more talented, 2011 or 2012? That’s a debate to be held at some alumni country-club affair, maybe in 2031.

But today’s Knights say they’re ready to lace them up and get after and boldly go where few North Andover teams (football, soccer, etc.) have gone before.

“Being the first hoop team to play in the MVC means a lot, to all of us,” said North Andover captain Derek Collins. “We’re happy to be in this league. We’re trying to establish ourselves as one of the top teams in the league right away.

“When we came in is something we couldn’t control. But this team will stay focused and together. I think we can do big things, if we put the work in.”

Don’t you dare attempt to empathize with North Andover as it attacks the new venture. The Knights enter MVC Division I – that is with Central, Andover, Lowell, Lawrence and Methuen – loaded for bear.

On board are the senior Collins, who coming in as a freshman before enduring brutal back issues, was said to be as talented a prospect to ever come out of North Andover.

He may not be at 100 percent physically, but said, “The back gets a little stiff from time to time, but I’m just glad to be playing.”

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