Wilkie-to-Larson connection helps Andover top Anoka

The friendly rivalry between Anoka (1-1) and Andover (2-0) reached a new high after the Huskies walked off Anoka’s Goodrich Field with a 42-17 win Sept. 7.

Andover built a 21-0 halftime lead on quick, explosive offensive plays, keyed by senior quarterback Connor Wilkie, who continued week one’s record-setting connection with receiver Chris Larson with a pair of first half touchdown connections of 38 and 50 yards.

Larson added two more touchdown catches in the second half on his way to a six-catch, 197-yard night.

Andover senior running back Derek McLaughlin, right, had 244 all-purpose yards in the Huskies’ 42-17 win at Goodrich Field. He returned a kickoff 89 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.

Andover senior running back Derek McLaughlin, right, had 244 all-purpose yards in the Huskies’ 42-17 win at Goodrich Field. He returned a kickoff 89 yards for a fourth quarter touchdown.Photo by Bill Jones

Connor completed 14-of-23 passes for 299 yards and five touchdowns.

“Honestly, I didn’t expect such a lopsided score, but we’ve shown that we can be that explosive,” Andover coach Rich Wilkie said. “Connor can read defenses, our offensive line can pick up blitzes and our receivers know how to get open. It equates to some explosive plays and can certainly change the game in a hurry.”

Coach Wilkie pointed to the need to involve more receivers in the offense to keep defenses away from Larson, which Connor did with a six-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to 6-foot, 4-inch, 215-pound tight end Chris Steckman. The catch was one of four by Steckman for 74 yards.

Steckman provides Connor with a large, reliable target in the middle of the field, while Larson and the rest of the receiving corps works on the perimeter of the defense.

According to Wilkie, Steckman’s size and speed is unmatched of anyone he’s had the chance to coach, “He’s going to keep getting better and making it tough to defenses,” Wilkie said.

Connor Wilkie had time to find open receivers in part because of the play of the offensive line to contain the Tornadoes defensive line and the scoring drives didn’t last very long, which helped keep the linemen fresh.

The longest scoring drive spanned six plays and 2:26. Three drives went 25, 55 and 17 seconds.

Anoka senior quarterback Travis Bengston, left, runs for a big gain against Andover Friday night. Bengston completed 9-15 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Anoka senior quarterback Travis Bengston, left, runs for a big gain against Andover Friday night. Bengston completed 9-15 passes for 87 yards and one touchdown.Photo by Bill Jones

Through two games, Larson has 12 catches for 466 yards and seven touchdowns and Connor Wilkie has completed 62.8-percent of his passes (27-43) for 697 yards and 8:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

Huskies running back Derek McLaughlin was the leading rusher with 70 yards on the ground, but he did the bulk of his damage in the return game. The senior piled up 166 yards on three returns, including an 89 yard touchdown late in the third quarter after Anoka’s Travis Magusha kicked a 35-yard field goal.

Anoka running back Teddy Sherva led the ground attack with five carries for 72 yards. Paul Rivera’s late rushing touchdown made the final score 42-17. Quarterback Travis Bengston found receiver Riley Perry on a 37-yard touchdown with 6:37 left in third quarter to put the home team on the scoreboard, down 28-7. Bengston finished the night 9-of-15 passing for 87 yards and one interception.

Andover’s offense piled up 437 yards compared with Anoka’s 292 yards on 15 more plays.

According to Wilkie, one of the goals for the defense was to limit big plays by Anoka and force them to drive the length of the field in order to score.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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