“They have some really good receivers against our good cover guys, so that should be interesting,” said Mathers. “They’re a hurry-up team and we’ve been doing a lot of conditioning to prepare for it.”
The Eagles’ linebackers can’t be overlooked, with Lucas Bavaro, Sean Smerczynski and R.J. Pizzano patrolling the middle making plays. The Prep’s ability to hand off responsibilities across all three levels have made them arguably the state’s best D.
“It’s huge. We can rely on our secondary to give us time to rush, we know they’ll bail us out if we don’t get to the QB and we know if we occupy a block our linebackers will be there,” said Bongiorno. “If we didn’t trust each other it wouldn’t be the same defense.”
The Eagles start fast as a defense, having allowed only 21 points in the first half all season. Nearly half of the 81 points they’ve allowed on the season have come in the fourth quarter — many of those with the game’s outcome secure.
Tonight, against what is statistically the best offense they’ve faced, the Eagles’ defensive plan won’t change. They want to pressure the QB, taking away time, space and comfort.
“Our goal every week is to hit the quarterback and that definitely applies this week,” said Bongiorno, who has made a living in opposing backfields this fall and hopes to play college football next year.
It starts up front. If Bongiorno, Jean-Jacques, Newton and Mathers can push into Andover’s backfield with regularity, the Eagles will be in great shape.
“We want to make them uncomfortable,” Mathers added. “We want to force them to make quick decisions, so any of our defensive backs and linebackers can make some plays.”