ANDOVER, Mass. – “Nice bounce back win,” Central Catholic head coach Chuck Adamopoulos told his team after the game.
After dropping a 40-21 contest to St. John’s Prep last week, No. 14 Central Catholic (3-1) rebounded on Friday night with a 26-7 win over Merrimack Valley Conference rival and traditional Thanksgiving Day foe Andover (1-2).
“Last week we ran into a great running back,” Adamopoulos said after the game. “He did not make us look good but we have played pretty good defense all season.”
St. John’s Prep running back Johnny Thomas ran for 228 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Central. Adamopoulos praised his defense’s effort in focusing all week in practice and holding Andover’s offense in check on Friday.
“We pride ourselves in our defense,” Adamopoulos said. “We have played three very good teams so far this season.”
Central held Andover to just 56 yards of total offense in the first half and shut the Golden Warriors out until the 1:45 mark of the fourth quarter.
Central was led by running back D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie, who gained 57 yards on 13 carries and did the majority of his work in the first half. Drummond-Mayrie also added a rushing touchdown and was a force on defense from his safety position. The Univ. of New Hampshire-bound senior had a fumble recovery and interception to go with a strong game playing against the run.
“He played well,” Adamopulus said. “I liked his run support today. He was coming up well against the run.”
Central also received a strong two-way effort from junior running back Markus Edmunds (8 rushes for 46 yards), who scored the first touchdown of the game on a 4-yard off tackle run, to start the second quarter.
“It was nice to get started early,” Edmunds said. “We worked hard all week and came in ready to play from the start.”
Complementing his work on the ground Edmunds stood tall from his linebacker position, leading a Central unit that did not budge on the line of scrimmage all night.
In a game of field position, Central Catholic took advantage of the short fields to help them mount four successful finishing drives.
“I thought our punt coverage was awesome,” Adamopoulos noted. “We played on their side of the field all game, which is a good thing. Our punter Danny Wilson also came up with big punts for us when we needed them.”
Mike Balsamo also played well for Central as he controlled a big fourth-quarter drive with his work on the ground, capped off with a 21-yard touchdown run.
Senior linebackers Will Eikenberry and John Oteri had strong games leading the Andover defense on the night, while freshman quarterback E.J. Perry hit Christopher Nicholas from three yards out for the only Andover score.
Milano bounces back strong: Junior quarterback Mike Milano dusted off some early-game rust and an early injury as he came back in to settled down and lead the Central offense.
“He is a tough competitor,” Adamopoulos said of his veteran signal-caller.
Milano would hit wide receiver Cam Manning for a 42-yard strike in the second quarter that set up a Drummond-Mayrie 5-yard touchdown run that gave Central a 14-0 lead.
Milano also hooked up with senior Cody Demers on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, as Demers would catch a sideline route and outrun the Andover defense to the end-zone.
Loss of Sylvester: Andover running back and return-man Jack Sylvester led the Golden Warriors offense on the night, despite being ejected in the third quarter after receiving his second unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the game.
The controversial ejection, which occurred after a discussion with the official, took place at a tough time for the Golden Warriors as they were beginning to mount a drive against the stingy Central defense.
Sylvester gained 44 yards from scrimmage for Andover on the night and did a nice job in the return game.