Chances are you’ve done something special if you’ve broken a record held by a Farnham.
Dan Gemmell did something special.
The Andover High junior smashed a 43-year-old area record by hauling in 18 touchdown passes this fall.
The old mark was held by Bobby Farnham, probably the first superstar from that family of Andover (and now North Andover) superstars.
At just 5-9, 155, Farnham caught 15 TD passes from Scott Seero that fall.
Bobby, a Brown Hall of Famer who earned a tryout with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, set the stage for his gifted multi-sport brothers.
Mark and Paul Farnham followed the trail to Andover and Brown while Glenn is a Central Hall of Famer).
His son Bobby Jr. of North Andover starred at Brooks and Phillips and is now with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils). His nephew, Buddy, who many consider the best pass-catcher in the family (and probably area history), was on the Patriots’ practice squad in 2010-11.
The family also includes a slew of track, field hockey, football, baseball and lacrosse greats who’ve added to the Farnham legend.
So that’s what makes Gemmell’s record even more special.
Gemmell is an explosive 6-1, 180-pounder who reportedly can do a 360-degree slam dunk. The Ivy Leagues and several 1-AA schools already have taken notice. He opened eyes in a strong sophomore campaign (29 catches, 460 yards, 3 TD catches) and this season ranked with any of the state’s top pass-catchers.
Gemmell finished with 49 catches for 991 yards, just missing the rare 1,000-yard receiving club.
Recent receivers who threatened Farnham’s mark were Whittier’s Steve Surette (2009), Lawrence’s Michael Calzetta (2009) and Pinkerton’s Sean Simpson (2004), all of whom had 14 TD grabs in a season.
Another Andover wideout with gaudy numbers was Andrew Soucy with an area best 58 catches for 836 yards. His 18 catches in the playoff loss to Central Catholic might be an area record.
Central rode the skills of multi-talented speed merchant Steven Jackson all the way to the Division 1 state final at Gillette Stadium. The MVC Division 1 MVP had 11 TD grabs and 19 overall TDs. He caught 49 balls for 780 yards.
Gemmell and Soucy had the good fortune of working with Andover junior E.J. Perry IV, who already has nearly every area game, season and career passing record.
The golden-armed Golden Warrior had a big sophomore year and this fall was off the charts with area records for completions (189), attempts (337), yards (2,852) and TD passes (state-leading 34).
The 6-2, 185-pound three-sport whiz set the unofficial state mark with his mind-boggling 636 passing yards in a 49-41 Division 1 North semifinal playoff loss to powerhouse Central.
The old area season marks were held by former Eagle-Tribune MVP C.J. Scarpa. In his senior year at Andover in 2012, Scarpa was 165 for 277 with 2,622 yards and 32 TD passes. Perry also had 277 attempts last fall.
Perry has 67 career TD passes, well ahead of the old area record of 51 shared by Scarpa and ex-North Andover great Brandon Walsh (NA ‘12).
With another Perry-esque season next year, he could possibly reach a previously unimaginable 100 career TD passes.
On Thanksgiving he passed Walsh and now trails only Lawrence’s Milwaukee Valerio (LHS ‘15) on the career passing yardage list (5,870-5,433).
The area’s No. 2 passer in all four categories was sophomore Bret Edwards, who was 122 for 211 for 1,678 yards and 18 TDs. An All-MVC Division 1 selection, he’s on pace to break the school records just set by Mike Milano (CCHS ‘15).
Another McCarthy does it
Lost sometimes in the pinball-esque numbers generated by the modern passing offenses is that rushing totals also have gone through the roof. This fall we had 11 1,000-yard rushers among the 20 area football teams.
Complete area individual rushing yardage statistics go back through the 1994 season. The previous high mark in this 22-year span was 10 in 2010 and 2011. The low was just one in 2003, when Greater Lawrence’s Kelvin Morales led the region with 1,136 rushing yards.
This year’s rushing champ was North Reading’s Matt McCarthy with 1,546, edging out Greater Lawrence’s Ojany Belliard, who racked up an even 1,500 but on 49 fewer carries (223-174). McCarthy’s brother C.J. was the region’s rushing champ two years ago with 1,925.
The 5-7, 160-pound Belliard came out of nowhere after rushing for just 30 yards as a sophomore. They could duel for the rushing title again next fall. McCarthy and Belliard are both juniors.
No. 3 this fall was Methuen quarterback Kendrick Denose, the eighth area quarterback to join the millennium club since we began keeping individual rushing totals in 1994. He finished with 1,250 rushing yards and passed the modern area mark set just last year by Londonderry’s terrific QB Eric Fairweather (1,237).
Denose nosed out Brian McAndrew (1,193) for the Methuen lead this fall. Since 1994 they are the 10th double-millennium club teammates including Salem’s Max Jacques and Jerickson Fedrick in 2010 and 2009.
The only ones who both had at least 1,193 yards were Pinkerton’s Emmitt Smith (1.466) and Kevin Davies (1.321) in 2011, Salem’s Jacques (1,895) and Fedrick (1,559) in 2010, and Londonderry’s Steve Miller (1,476) and Steve Bicchieri (1,254) in 1998.
Belliard scoring champ
The 2015 scoring champ is Belliard with 23 TDs and seven 2-point conversions for 152 points. McCarthy 23 TDs, 138 points), North Andover’s two-way wrecking matchine Joe Samuelman (20-8-128), Denose (20-0-120), Central’s Jackson (19-2-116), Andover’s Gemmell (18-0-108) and Pentucket’s Liam Sheehy (17-0-102) all cracked the 100-point barrier.
Hughes top kicker
Timberlane senior Jason Hughes booted seven field goals this fall with three of at least 40 yards (40, 41 and 42). The seven 3-pointers ties him for second in the last 31 years with Andover’s Mike Pierce (2007), Pinkerton’s Bryan Farris (2004) and Londonderry’s Charlie MacInnis (1996).
The most since at least 1982 was Central Catholic’s Colin Burkhardt, who nailed eight in 2006.