‘The single most important year in my development’: Bill Belichick, Ernie Adams and the 1970 Andover football team

Before they were World Champions with the Patriots, Belichick and Adams were high school teammates at Phillips Academy. This is the story of that undefeated campaign 48 years ago, and how you can see, even back then, hints of their football greatness that would follow.

Bill Belichick Andover Football
The team photo of the 1970 Andover football squad, featuring Bill Belichick (No. 50) and Ernie Adams (No. 61). –Courtesy Phillips Academy Archives

In the late summer of 1970, the Phillips Academy football players came back to school two weeks early to prepare for the season.

Some were new to the handsome prep school campus in Andover, others had known it for years.

Among them were Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams, now head coach and director of football research for the Patriots, then center and right guard for a team that would go undefeated. They weren’t the stars of the team, but they had their first taste of mutual success in football that season, and there already were signs that the game was a calling for both of them.


Belichick and Adams have remained together, like twin strands of DNA wrapped around the genetic backbone of the Patriots dynasty, the coils tracing back to the practice fields at Andover over one perfect season.

Here is the story of that season, through the eyes of the players.

Bill Belichick, C, Class of 1971: I only had one year at Andover, but it was probably the single most important year in my development.

The team

The 1969 team had gone 5-2 and returned several strong players but, as always, a lot was riding on the new crop of postgraduates. PGs were students who had already graduated from other high schools but came to Andover for an additional year before college. They were older, usually athletic, and could make or break the sports teams.

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