AMHERST — Saturday is it for the NESCAC, an academics-first Division 3 conference, the last week of football.
Like a lot of seniors, Andover’s Ollie Eberth has been a little melancholy this week.
Tuesday, for instance, was the last football practice he’ll ever have with full pads on.
“It was weird, the last time I was full-padded before the my last game,” he said. “It was all starting to hit me a little bit. I’m trying to enjoy this, every minute of practice with the team.”
Eberth has rode a football roller-coaster of sorts, starting in youth football in third grade, moving on to Andover High, then transferring to St. John’s Prep, before settling in on Amherst.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound, three-year starting quarterback, has made his mark on Amherst, compiling 4,678 yards passing, 1,183 yards rushing, 32 touchdowns and 19 wins (in 24 games). If most of those number increase tomorrow against Williams, he will rank among the top two or three quarterbacks to ever play at Amherst.
What was Eberth’s fondest football memory at Amherst?
It was the third game of his freshman season. He took the field at the end of blowout win over Bowdoin. The stats said he completed one pass for eight yards.
“I was a tall skinny kid, weighing 175 pounds soaking wet,” said Eberth, setting up his memory. “The coach called an inside zone play where I hand off to the running back. After handing off I saw this huge, defensive tackle a few yards in front of me. I went at him and completely cleaned him out, sent him flying. It was near our sidelines and the guys went nuts.
“Quarterbacks aren’t supposed to do that. It was my first big moment at Amherst. My teammates saw that and said, ‘We’ll go play for him.’ I’ll never forget that feeling I got. Never.”
Eberth showed his talents as a sophomore, when he won the starting job, beating out a senior that had returned after missing a season (torn ACL), who had been All-NESCAC two seasons earlier.
“I know we all like to look at statistics and Ollie’s got great stats here,” said long-time Amherst coach E.J. Mills. “But for me, I look at him as one of the toughest, most ferocious competitors I’ve ever had the privilege to coach. Here you have this 6-foot-1, pretty skinny kid, who’s not afraid to take a hit or take a pounding. Ollie always gets up.”
Eberth was first-team All-NESCAC a year ago, throwing 10 TD passes and only one interception. He also ran for nine touchdowns.
As a senior, he has thrown for 25 more yards per game this season, with 14 TD passes and 12 interceptions.
Best of all, Amherst was a big winner when Eberth was under center. The Mammoths were 7-2 his sophomore season and 8-1 as co-league champs with rival Trinity College. This season, Amherst is 4-4 heading into the finale, but the record is a little deceiving.
Two losses were in double-overtime by a field goal. Another loss was by a field goal, in the final seconds. And last week, against Trinity, Amherst had the ball and was driving in the fourth quarter, trailing 14-7, before failing to convert on fourth down, eventually losing 21-7.
In the other three losses over his career, all were nine points or less.
“There have been some tough, tough losses this fall,” said Eberth. “But we’ve moved on. We’ve always worked that way here, win or loss. Honestly, right now, we are trying to go 1-and-0 against Williams.”
Eberth’s post-football career will include business of some kind.
“I’m finalizing plans as we speak, maybe in finance,” said the economics major. “But my father (Carl) and uncle started a business together. I grew up in the entrepreneurial spirit. Who knows.”
Coach Mills has put off worrying about his post-Eberth plans for now with two freshmen showing promise. It’s not something he relishes.
“Ollie is going to be missed around here,” said the coach. “We’re going to miss a lot about his leadership. But for me, watching him save us so many times. Late in a game, on a 3rd-and-8, Ollie would get us eight and half yards. That’s clutch. That’s Ollie. I’ve been in this business a long time and those guys don’t come around often.”
You can email Bill Burt at email@example.com.
Ollie’s Eagle experience
Of Ollie Eberth’s 14 years of football, he said his all-time favorite memory was captured in a photograph that is framed and hanging in his Andover home.
It’s his senior year at St. John’s Prep, the night before Thanksgiving, at Fenway Park.
“It was a surreal experience, playing at Fenway against Xaverian,” recalled Eberth. “An iconic photo was taken of me with the linemen in front and the Green Monster in the background.
“I transferred to the Prep after my sophomore year and it was the best thing I ever did,” said Eberth. “I was as good student before, but I became a very good student the Prep. My best friend was also already there. It prepared me for Amherst.”