EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 5, 2013

Deeper Andover deserves nod over Knights

Grid Picks
Dave Dyer

---- — When Andover and North Andover clash in football, you can just never be sure.

It may not be of the magnitude of Army-Navy but, in a similar vein, one of these local rivals usually plays well beyond its ability and either pulls an upset or makes what looks like a mismatch a classic battle.

That could be the case again tomorrow when Andover plays at North Andover to, once again, inaugurate the season, but it appears that Andover has too much balance and overall strength to be denied.

The Knights are always well prepared for this game and boast a terrific passing game led by Casey Walsh (1,282 passing yards, 13 TDs last year), but I think Andover may be able to pressure Walsh a bit and its offense, led by Jack Sylvester (1,158 rushing yards), will be tough to stop.

Therefore, the Warriors will start their season on a high note, even if there are some shaky moments.

PICK: Andover 26, North Andover 14

agateHed:TOMORROW’S GAMES

Lawrence (0-0) at Central Catholic (0-0)

Lawrence should be able to score at least once, but can it stop the Raiders?

PICK: Central 31, Lawrence 12

Pinkerton (0-0) at Bedford (0-0)

Bedford, which was the Division 2 runner-up last year, is becoming a powerhouse in almost everything, but it hasn’t caught up with the Astros in football quite yet.

PICK: Pinkerton 27, Bedford 21

Manchester West (0-0) at Londonderry (0-0)

West has slipped to mediocrity in nearly everything.

PICK: Londonderry 22, Manchester West 6

Memorial (0-0) at Salem (0-0)

Coaching changes are never easy, and Memorial has been quite competitive in recent years, so Rob Pike’s Salem debut may not be sweet.

PICK: Memorial 24, Salem 10

Windham (0-0) at Hanover (0-0)

Windham lost a lot of firepower, but the Jaguars seem confident.

PICK: Windham 20, Hanover 19

Timberlane (0-0) at Alvirne (0-0)

The Owls have always been tough to pick and this year should be no exception. Alvirne has a new coach in longtime Bishop Guertin assistant Mark Phillips and a lot of enthusiasm, so this pick is doubly difficult.

PICK: Timberlane 24, Alvirne 20

agateHed:SATURDAY’S GAMES

Austin Prep (0-0) at Whittier (0-0)

Austin Prep was much better in football five years ago, and has slipped recently (7-14 last two years), but it shouldn’t be discounted.

PICK: Whittier 26, Austin Prep 19

Methuen (0-0) at Malden (0-0)

The Rangers start the Tom Ryan era on a positive note.

PICK: Methuen 30, Malden 20

Haverhill (0-0) at Beverly (0-0)

Beverly was 13-0 last year and is ranked No. 3 in the Boston Herald Division 3 Northeast Division rankings. The Panthers, led by speedy back Isaiah White, probably have enough returning talent to handle the Hillies.

PICK: Beverly 24, Haverhill 13

Pelham (0-0) at Bow (0-0)

This should be a good game with the home team rating the edge.

PICK: Bow 19, Pelham 13

Milford (0-0) at Sanborn (0-0)

Milford, led by talented Wing-T quarterback Harrison Urda, will eventually prevail.PICK: Milford 26, Sanborn 14