00ANDOVER — Andrew Deloury wasn’t about to admit he shed a few tears. But as he was mobbed by teammates, friends and family on the Eugene V. Lovely Field turf, his face — caked with eye-black — showed the signs of his joy.
“Emotions overtook more than a few people,” the Andover High senior said with a smile. “This could have been the end. But we pulled through, and this is about as good as it gets.”
With a minute to go in the game, Will Heikkinen recovered an on-sides kick, and the Golden Warriors ran out the clock to earn the 22-19 victory over archrival Central Catholic that clinched their share of the Merrimack Valley Conference Division 1 title and their second postseason berth in three seasons in front of an estimated crowd of over 6,000 and the sidelines filled with TV cameras and sports reporters.
“I will remember this feeling forever,” said Heikkinen. “This is amazing. All year, everything we have done has led up to this, and now we are champs. This is the greatest feeling of my life.”
Andover, at 10-1 and 3-1 in MVC Division 1, finishes in a tie for the title with the Raiders and Lowell. But due to tiebreakers, the Golden Warriors earn Tuesday’s playoff trip against Catholic Conference champ St. John’s Prep. The Eagles (9-1) downed Xaverian yesterday to earn their league crown.
“This is just amazing,” said Warrior lineman Andres Christopulos. “I was sitting up last night thinking, ‘What if we win, but what if we lose?’ Let me tell you, this is so much better than I ever could have expected. This was a dogfight to the end. We had one goal all season, to win the MVC. Now our goal is the Super Bowl.”
It was Central Catholic that threw the first punch. Holding Andover to a three-and-out, Ryan Doherty blocked a punt and four plays later Thomas Jenoski booted a 38-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 3-0 lead.