TEWKSBURY, Mass. -– The cold rain just couldn’t cool off Tewksbury’s dominant defense on Saturday afternoon.
After pitching a shutout in the first half, the Redmen held steady in the second—knocking off a talented Methuen Rangers squad 41-14 on Homecoming weekend at Tewksbury. James Sullivan was the star of the afternoon for the Redmen, pulling in three interceptions off of Methuen quarterback Austin George-Williams (10-14, 158 yards 1 TD, 4 INT). Ryan Bednarik also had in INT for the Redmen.
“Sully did great, he’s one of those guys that you see growing up as a kid that he has the potential to be very good if he has the right kind of work ethic and the right kind of character -— he’s got all of that,” Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said. “He’s a great kid to be able to coach, he can do everything that we have to do in a football game: he runs hard, he blocks hard, he’s 100 miles an hour in practice all the time.”
While Aylward praised his star junior, Sullivan downplayed the big day like it was just another day at the office.
“Getting into your reads, getting depth, and just making a play on it. We preach that all time, we preach that all week, and I just trusted my reads and everything worked out,” Sullivan said. “I was getting calls from the sideline that they were probably gonna pass, probably play action, so I kind of knew it from the start and he happened to run where I was -— just made a play on the ball.”
The Redmen were led offensively by quarterback Johnny Aylward (9-11, 88 yards 3 TD) and running backs Tom Casey (5 carries, 64 yards, TD) and Sullivan (9 carries, 75 yards, TD). Aylward got things started in the first quarter, running it in from the Methuen two yard-line to put Tewksbury on the board first. Soon after George-Williams’ interception to Sullivan, Sullivan helped anchor a drive downfield, punching in a touchdown to give Tewksbury a commanding 14-0 lead.
Before halftime, Aylward extended the lead when he threw a touchdown pass to John Saunders to give the Redmen a 21-0 lead after two quarters.
Methuen responded early in the third quarter on a touchdown by Brian McAndrew to cap off an 11 play, 75 yard drive. However, Aylward and the offense came back quick, as the quarterback strolled into the endzone minutes later to help build what seemed to be an insurmountable lead. After an Aylward fumble on the next drive, Sullivan intercepted a George-Williams pass. Casey took care of the rest, running it in from 15 yards out.
“I think a lot of it had to do with different kinds of things we were doing, we were trying to run a couple things every week that we hadn’t run before, so when I tell ya I don’t know what we’re going to do next week...I don’t," Aylward said. "I’ll critique myself more than anything else before we move on to next week. I thought we got a big conservative, and [Methuen] had a lot of firepower to get some points on the board quickly. They have good, hard-nosed kids."
Going up against one of his own former assistants, Methuen head coach Tom Ryan, the older Aylward admitted it was a bit of a trip around memory lane. Aylward joked that since he and Ryan used to wake up at 6:30 on the morning of every game day to work out together, he laughed that he almost extended the invitation for old-times’ sake.
“He’s a good friend. We’ve been through so many battles, and we’ve gone through all the prep work together,” Aylward said. “I told him this morning I was gonna give you a call at like 6:30 this morning and say ‘hey, you wanna get a lift in before the game?’ He laughed at that.”