Andover football coach Rich Wilkie spoke with a smile throughout his postgame address Thursday, saluting a job well done while cautioning against complacency.
A 42-14 rout of Champlin Park started the season right, Wilkie said, but it was just one game.
“Win or lose, every week is a chapter,” he said. “We have to try to improve and it’s mostly mental.”
To get players’ minds right, Wilkie found several teachable moments from the Champlin Park game. Some reads were missed; some assignments blown. There also were physical mistakes, most notably a receiver bobbling a sure touchdown pass before somehow throwing the ball over his shoulder and almost into the hands of a diving Rebels’ defender.
Wilkie laughed off the hiccup but turned serious when talking about Anoka, this week’s opponent.
“Anoka always defends us well,” Wilkie said. “They like to disrupt things with pressure and they are one of the best blitzing teams we will see.”
To that end, Wilkie was happy with his offensive line against Champlin Park. The boys up front faced a few unfamiliar looks from the Rebels defense and mostly came out on top. Andover racked up 565 yards of total offense, 421 of them passing.
Strong defensive play at the line of scrimmage also pleased Wilkie. Tackles Jake Nelson (220 pounds) and Corey Parsons (191 pounds), played much bigger than their size suggested. They helped hold Champlin Park to just six first half points.
“Corey is a great wrestler and he is all about playing with leverage,” Wilkie said. “Jake just seems like he’s going to be a difference-maker this season.”
Champlin Park, despite an opening night setback, showed signs of promise. Quarterback Max Biegert and receiver Marty Hill, both juniors, connected six times for 114 yards. Another junior, Jusias Kalis, rushed for 86 yards on a 7.2 yards per carry average.
The Rebels have no room to breathe, welcoming DeLaSalle to town Friday.
David La Vaque • 612-673-7574