Improvements Make Andrew Playoff Contender

Jon Zaghloul
Andrew's quarterback Ryan Summers attempts a pass as a Stagg defender bears down on him.
Andrew’s quarterback Ryan Summers attempts a pass as a Stagg defender bears down on him.

I think we can all come to the revelation that losing to a team like Stagg, ranked 500 spots below Andrew nationally, should not imply the fact that Andrew may claim a spot in the IHSA playoffs. Judging by their performance, Andrew looked as if they reminded themselves, as well as Andrew fans, that a repeat of a disastrous 2014 campaign is not out of the question. I am here to silence these pessimists and explain why Andrew is still a legitimate playoff contender, even though their mind-boggling loss to Stagg was oh-so reminiscent of last season’s struggles. The major priority for this Andrew squad is defense, as they have three electric sophomores leading the charge, hoping to bring Andrew High School a taste of November football. Mike DeHaan, Tom Piekarz, and Tai Gannaban all feature incredible football instincts to go along with straight-out athleticism, as displayed by DeHaan’s two sacks, Piekarz’s interception return for a touchdown, and Gannaban’s three total tackles.   Advancing to upperclassmen talent, Mohammed Aqel, Jimmy Zajac, and Kody Gustafson are all menacing defenders with a chip on their shoulders, as they desire to carry Andrew back to the state playoffs. These players mentioned, along with other integral role players, have a daunting task ahead of them as they will be the reason for the success or failure of this 2015 season. The main reason why Andrew lost by so much to Stagg was due to the defense’s inability to control the running aspect of the game. Herbert Hughes rushed for more than 150 yards and punched in two rushing touchdowns, even one from thirteen yards out. When facing teams later in the year like Thornton or the trio of District 210 (Lincoln-Way) teams, Andrew will have to hold its ground and be sure to consistently defend the run. Transferring to the offense, Jawon Richards will spearhead a dominant 1-2 running combination with Ontavian Durns. As we witnessed in the inaugural game, Richards ran all over the Bloom defense, amassing 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Durns carried the bulk of the load against Stagg as he rushed for a touchdown as well, pushing Andrew into double-digit scoring territory. The glaring problem questioned by most Andrew fans has to be why the team has opted to utilize two starting quarterbacks, Bobby Kman and Ryan Summers, instead of choosing one. It seems to me that Andrew may have a starting quarterback controversy on their hands, as both players have taken near-identical numbers of snaps on the field. I have never seen a team experiment with two different quarterbacks in a season and have it equate to a playoff spot. This is mostly because each quarterback has certain tendencies that differ from one another. They may favor different receivers or feel comfortable throwing the football downfield rather than employ a strategy of short, five to ten yard completions. Hopefully this resounding issue is resolved soon, especially down the stretch when Andrew will need a player to step up and firmly assume the role of quarterback. Compared to the previous season, this Andrew team has gotten more talented and athletic, as they vie for a playoff experience that we hope to never forget. Let us cheer on our very own Thunderbolts as they strive to bring playoff football back to the school for the first time in three years. Go Thunderbolts!

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