After scoring 20 points in its previous three losses, Andover returned to form with a 50-14 win at Robbinsdale Armstrong Oct. 15 to end an up-and-down regular season with a 5-3 record.
Andover came out of the gate looking to put the game away early and led 21-0 in less than eight minutes thanks a more aggressive style on both sides of the ball.
Fifty points was a season high for the Huskies, who were held to seven, seven and six points in the previous three games.
Huskies coach Rich Wilkie said the game plan was solid going into sections. “We don’t ever want to have the kids doubting their ability, especially going into the playoffs and they were doing that a little bit,” he said. “It was nice to see them make the same plays they did earlier in the season.”
Quarterback Connor Wilkie completed 13 of 15 passes for 256 yards and four touchdowns. Three scores were by senior Chris Larson, who finished with 167 yards on six catches. He finished the regular season with 52 catches for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Instead of kicking the ball away, Andover went for it on fourth down near midfield and Connor Wilkie found Larson on a long touchdown catch. The play was indicative of how the entire team faced the game. “We wanted to be aggressive and went for it,” Wilkie said. “Chris scores on a great move for a touchdown when we were trying to make a first down.”
Running back Derek McLaughlin finished with 99 yards and two touchdowns to give him 795 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season. He also has 11 receptions for 126 yards and one touchdown. Tyler Goltz ran for 69 yards on seven carries.
According to Wilkie, when Andover’s offense has a chance to be more balanced, the results are always better. “We weren’t in so many predictable passing or running situations and that helps,” Wilkie said.
That aggressiveness carried over to the defensive side of the ball in blitzing and coverage schemes against a Falcons team that looked to pass the ball more.
“When you feel like your back is up against the wall sometimes the best thing is to go into attack mode,” Wilkie said.
Derek Wurst and Calvin Struzyk each led the team with six tackles and Wurst added two of the team’s eight tackles for a loss.
Wilkie pointed to the performance of defensive ends Corey Parsons and Jake Nelson in pressuring the Falcons into poor decisions with the ball. Parsons ends the regular season with 41 tackles, 11 for a loss and two fumble recoveries. Nelson has 37 tackles on the season, 10 for a loss and three sacks.
Andover set a number of records during the regular season, including kicker Alex Probert’s team-record 40-yard field goal. In three games he converted one of two field goals and six of eight extra point attempts. Ben Peterson played the first six games of the season making 22 of 26 point-after attempts, but missed his only field goal attempt.
Larson and Connor also added their names to the record books. Larson passed Jason Schneider’s record receiving 930 yards in a season and ended the regular season with 1,140 yard and tied Schneider’s catches in a game record of 11 against Armstrong.
Connor Wilkie tied Tyler Finnes’ season scoring mark of 126 points with 18 passing touchdowns and is 480 yards from topping Alex Moses’ career passing yards record.
Andover got off to a 4-0 start and was ranked in the state polls before struggling to score for three weeks in a row. Granted, two of those losses came against Osseo and Totino-Grace, powers of the Northwest Suburban Conference, but several factors were in play including less-than ideal passing conditions, penalties and ultimately turnovers that compounded the situation.
The Huskies received the No. 2 seed in Section 4-AAAAA, behind No. 1 Mahtomedi, and will host the winner of the No. 6 North St. Paul/No. 3 Irondale game in Andover Oct. 26.
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