Three games in and not only three wins for Andover, but three impressive displays on both sides of the ball.
This time the No. 8-ranked Huskies handed Coon Rapids a 40-14 loss in Northwest Suburban Conference action Sept. 13.
Huskies Stadium in Andover also served as a Tackle for Cancer fundraiser for the evening, complete with special Andover and Coon Rapids t-shirts for the rare 5 p.m. start.
While Andover failed to reach 42 points for the first time this season, the offense certainly made its presence felt collecting 471 yards passing and rushing.
One goal for Andover’s offense was to spread the catches around beyond Chris Larson who had had 466 yards receiving and seven touchdown catches through two games. Add another team-high eight catches for 183 yards and one touchdown and Larson now sits at 649 yards receiving with 20 catches on the year.
Six different players caught passes from quarterback Connor Wilkie, who completed 18-of-25 passes for 289 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
One goal for coach Rich Wilkie and his staff was to balance the attack more so than Andover did in the first two weeks of the season.
“You can keep your momentum [up] if you aren’t too one sided,” he said.
Andover running back Derek McLaughlin complemented the rushing attack well with 19 carries for 157 yards and three touchdowns.
Connor Wilkie orchestrated an opening touchdown drive that found receiver Jake McNallan from four yards out and only took one minute, 32 seconds off the clock.
Andover converted a third down and eight yards play to extend its drive.
Coon Rapids had a bad snap on a first down at the Andover 15-yard line and kicker Jake Mahony left a 38-yard field goal attempt short on its opening drive.
“We just have to finish,” Coon Rapids coach Jon Young said as the Cardinals couldn’t capitalize on early turnovers in the opener against Totino-Grace.
Andover found itself in a good position to break the game open on its second drive.
Connor found Larson streaking down the middle of the field for a 74-yard touchdown catch to take a 14-0 lead, less than seven minutes into the contest.
Coon Rapids’ Wil Elliot punched in a touchdown from two yards out to make it 14-7.
The tough yardage run punctuated a 73-yard drive that included solid runs by Deshon Johnson and fade passes from quarterback Austin Anda to his top two targets Taylor Croal and Alex Boxwell. The two receivers each had over 100 yards receiving.
Boxwell had 131 yards and one touchdown. That score came with 19 seconds left on the clock when Boxwell dove into the end zone to complete the 19-yard reception. Croal added 125 yards and both extended drives with big-time catches.
After Elliot’s touchdown run for the Cardinals, Andover kept the throttle down on offense, scoring 26 unanswered points with three rushing touchdowns from McLaughlin (7, 34 and 5 yards).
The 34-yard score came when McLaughlin bounced over the right tackle and found a open path to the end zone. “I spun out of a tackle and saw lots of green grass,” the Huskies running back said.
Cardinals make progress
Coach Wilkie complimented the Cardinals for their physical play and biggest test on both sides of the ball. “They’re really athletic at receiver, have a solid quarterback and a fantastic running back with great feet and their interior made it tough for us,” he said.
Coon Rapids had drives stall and struggled to string together positive yardage runs. “We ran well but he created negative yardage plays and that’s hard to overcome,” Young said, who called the game from the press box.
Young felt his team executed well at times and had more big plays, but the difference showed on the scoreboard. Croal and Boxwell made 40-plus yard receptions, but the offense couldn’t translate that into points on the scoreboard.
Defensively, Young said the Cardinals could have tackled a lot better, gave up too many big plays and could not get off the field.
Going against the Huskies offense, he said the defense tried to get hits on Connor Wilkie, the three-year starter but could not.
“He’s very good,” Young said. “He’s elusive, their offensive line is great and [McLaughlin] blocks really good. The quarterback is a three-year starter and he’s very heady and gets the ball out on time.”
Young’s confidence in his team isn’t lacking, he said. “We’re talented,” Young said. “We should score every time we touch the ball and should have put up 40 points tonight.
“We have the best running back in the conference, the two best receivers and one of the best blocking tight ends in the conference and one of our best players didn’t even play tonight [Tykeise Jones]. We should score every time.”
Jason Olson is at