A team of eighth grade football players from Massachusetts will compete for a national title this weekend in San Antonio, Texas, and Danvers’ own Matt Andreas is a big reason why.
Andreas is the only local athlete on the 35-player Massachusetts team that will battle North Georgia on Friday (6:40 p.m.) in a semifinal at Heroes Stadium. Colorado and St. Louis will meet in the other semifinal with the two winners playing at the Alamodome on Sunday for the Football University National Championship.
Team Massachusetts won four games to advance to the Final Four, defeating New Hampshire and Connecticut North close to home, then traveling to Mansfield, Ohio to beat Connecticut South and Maryland. Massachusetts rolled the team from Maryland, 34-7, making it two straight years that Team Massachusetts advanced to the semifinals.
Andreas is a versatile player that Team Massachusetts coach Andrew Nashawaty has been able to use in various roles.
“He can do anything. He can play quarterback, running back, receiver, defensive back ... he pretty much does it all for us,” Nashawaty said. “He’s a tremendous player. I saw Matt work out and thought he was impressive at the tryout, and then I saw the highlight film that he sent and I was blown away. He’s one of the best players on the team.”
The selection process for Team Massachusetts was rigorous and being part of the team takes a huge commitment.
Tryouts began in July with more than 185 players competing for spots on the team. Many other players were evaluated through film, and coaches actually scouted the players during live youth football games in their town.
Andreas found out in late October that he had been selected, and practices began right after Thanksgiving.
“It’s just an honor to be selected,” Andreas, 13, said. “The players are so good and the coaching is so wonderful. It’s amazing to go from Pop Warner and the CAL (Cape Ann League) Youth League to compete at this level with these players. It’s so great.”