Boston High School: Kevin Dick

Top 10 Plays from Super Saturday

December, 10, 2013
Saturday’s inaugural MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium crowned victors in six divisions, which meant plenty of highlight reel-worthy plays were jam-packed into the day. Here are my Top 10 plays from the weekend:

(Video clips courtesy of

Honorable Mention –- Rufus’ Rumble
Glad to see we’ll have another year of Bishop Fenwick running back Rufus Rushins, because the junior is a lot of fun to watch when he gets a full head of steam downhill. The Crusaders shut out Northbridge, 28-0, for the D5 state title, thanks to Rushins’ 158 yards and three scores on 15 carries.

10. Follow Your Blockers
Dennis-Yarmouth’s L.K. Metz follows every fundamental rule here as he jukes and jives his way to a very nice kick return, taking a Doherty squib kick all the way down to the Highlanders’ 6-yard line to set up an eventual score. Doherty went on to win the Division 4 state championship, 28-26.

9. Ball Hawk
Mansfield’s Aurian Dawkins shows great awareness and ball instincts on this end zone interception, jumping a would-be TD throw to St. John’s receiver Mike McGillicuddy and laying out for the pick. Mansfield doubled up the Pioneers, 28-14, to win the D2 state title.

8. Bassett Hounds the Skippers
Littleton running back Travis Bassett had the best statistical performance of the day, carrying 22 times for 263 yards and four TDs, and adding a 29-yard catch off a screen pass for a fifth TD, and adding two interceptions, as the Tigers routed Cohasset 52-35 for the D6 state title. There are plenty of highlight plays for Bassett, but my personal favorite is this 78-yard scamper. Just look at the afterburners he puts on this one.

7. Isaac to the Post
Boston College commit Isaac Yiadom had a big day on both sides of the ball for Doherty, including this 64-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Yiadom finished with seven catches for 137 yards and a TD.

6. D’Andre Dumps ‘Em
UNH commit D’Andre Drummond hits the R3 button on this 52-yard touchdown run for Central Catholic, leaving one unfortunate Xaverian defender in the turf. The Raiders doubled up Xaverian, 34-17, for the D1 state title.

5. Run, Rocco, Run
Cohasset’s Rocco Laugelle is off and running on this 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Watch as he slips away from about five tacklers en route to paydirt.

4. Poetry in Motion
Doherty QB Luke Brennan (12 for 20, 259 yards, 2 TD) threw a couple of pretty balls on the afternoon. But none were prettier than this 41-yard bomb to Alfred Adarkwah, plopping the ball safely into the lanky senior’s bread basket, right over the top of double coverage.

3. Cody’s Crackback
As the title implies, Central Catholic receiver Cody Demers laid one of the most vicious sticks of the day, this crackback block springing loose quarterback Matt Milano to toss a 31-yard touchdown pass to Cam Manning. This play made it 7-0 Raiders, and effectively set the tone for the evening.

2. Jump Ball
We couldn’t get our hands on video of this impressive TD catch by Tewksbury’s Kevin Dick, late in the Redmen’s 42-14 rout of Plymouth South for the D3 state title. But it probably works out better that way, as photographer Eric Adler passes along a frame-by-frame account of the grab.

1. Megatron
Simply put, Demers was just awesome on Saturday. This TD catch permeates those sentiments.

Tale of the Tape: Tewksbury vs. Plymouth South

December, 4, 2013
Ahead of Saturday's six MIAA Football State Championships at Gillette Stadium, today we are bringing back our "Tale of the Tape" series to break down each participating team's matchups headed into the game.

In the Division 4 Final, ESPN Boston High Schools editors Brendan Hall and Scott Barboza take a closer look at North champ Tewksbury and South champ Plymouth South, respectively.

Division 3 State Championship
at Gillette Stadium, 6 p.m.

When Tewksbury has the ball: Bar none, this has got to be the most fascinating high school offense in Massachusetts to watch. You may see as many as 25 different formations in a game, and from just about every family of offense imaginable. Their game-opening drive against Melrose in the D3 North Final featured a half-dozen formations, for starters – starting with a gun empty with two tight ends, followed by a Wing-T, a Flex Bone look, the I-Formation, an unbalanced Power-I, and the dated “Notre Dame Box” formation made famous by Knute Rockne nearly 100 years ago.

And that was just one drive. When you’re scouting Tewksbury’s offense, there is a lot to digest in a short window of time. One of the concepts they’ve been pretty effective with is their ability to set up the run, not the pass, out of empty formations, with quarterback Johnny Aylward leading the way on an inverted veer or a power. But to single out one guy is like picking one’s favorite grandchild – between James Sullivan (21 TDs), Eddie Matovu, tight end Tom Casey and receiver Kevin Dick, there is a load to handle. In another offense, Dick might catch 100 passes. But in Tewksbury, he is one of a half-dozen dangerous weapons, making the Redmen that much more intimidating.

In the trenches, look out for a senior-laden line led by Matt Lacascia, Alex Hamilton, John Melloni, John DeVito and Dan Donovan. This is a unit that moves quick off the ball, and should provide a quality matchup for a beefy South line led by Shaun Duncombe.

When Plymouth South has the ball: No running back has seen the ball more the last two seasons in Massachusetts football than Panthers senior running back Dylan Oxsen. After setting the state’s single-season rushing touchdowns record (40) in 2012, Oxsen’s already surpassed 2,000 rushing yards (2,145) on the season, while averaging just about 30 carries per game.

Of course, for Oxsen’s success, much credit is due to the Panther’s line, as well as lead blocker Matt Bremis, running out of South’s I-formation and pistol looks. Senior captain and Bryant University commit Shaun Duncombe is a true road-grader, while senior center Brendan Harty has been a solid two-year starter. Meanwhile, Bremis has been a steady two-way contributor for South for a few years now. While South might not have faced such a hard-hitting defense as Tewksbury’s throughout this season, the Panthers have the size to match a physical Redmen front eight at the point of attack.

When Tewksbury is on defense: In their previous two playoff games, against Melrose (D3 North Final) and Marblehead (D3 Northeast Final), the Redmen found success with quarters looks, sprinkled with enough pre-snap movement to disguise coverage or simply create some confusion. That’s led to a monster season at safety for Sullivan, who came up with three picks in a game earlier this season. We’re just going to assume they come out with something new for this game, because South presents a wholly different offensive attack than Melrose’s read option.

Lucky for Tewksbury, the guys they have in the back seven are versatile, and they embrace contact. With Matovu and Casey at linebacker, and Johnny Aylward roaming at strong safety, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Redmen load up the box to combat South’s “22” personnel and heavy pistol looks. If grit and grind is the name of the game, Tewksbury can play right along with it.

When Plymouth South is on defense: In what could be a defensive struggle in a ball control-oriented game, turnovers should loom large. The Panthers won the turnover battle in the Division 3 South final, thanks to a last-minute interception from senior captain Anthony Schena, against Stoughton.

The matchup will likely be determined on the lines, so the impetus is on the down linemen in South’s 4-4 stack to control the gaps against Tewksbury’s multipronged ground game. Duncombe and Harty anchor the line, alongside Nick Eaton and Justin Lamb.

But the difference-maker is Bremis, the 5-foot-10, 200-pounder can lay down the lumber, so expect plenty of car wreck-caliber hits laid out by both defenses.

D3 North: Tewksbury 32, Melrose 14

November, 23, 2013

LOWELL, Mass. -– Some thought it might be a matchup that would surprise the masses; a game where the outcome would be decided in the closing seconds as one team drove for a game-winning score.

Others projected that the multipronged offensive ground attack of Tewksbury and the dual run-pass threat of Melrose senior quarterback Malik Garrett would engage in a high-scoring, back-and-forth battle, especially given both sides’ penchant for points (each entered with averages of more than 31 points per game).

Everyone, however, agreed that the Division 3 North state semifinal winner would earn a ticket to Gillette Stadium and a Super Bowl berth against Plymouth South, which defeated Stoughton, 14-12, on Friday night to capture the Division 3 South title.

So when the final horn sounded at Cawley Stadium around 1:15 pm on Saturday in a game that could have been so many things, the outcome revealed just one: a stepping stone for Tewksbury, which easily dismantled Melrose, 32-14, but was much more one-sided than the final score indicated, to advance to Foxborough for the second time in three years.

“When we were sophomores we got out (butts) kicked by Duxbury,” recalled Tewksbury senior Kevin Dick of his team’s 35-0 drubbing back in 2011. That was “a great Duxbury team. It was two years in the making that we were trying to get back there . . . it’s a great thing. I can’t wait. It’s a great thing for Tewksbury; it’s a great thing for everyone.”

And while many Redmen factored into the victory, especially with five different players recording touchdowns, arguable no one was more significant than Dick.

With Tewksbury, which remained a perfect 11-0, clinging to a 13-7 lead late in the second quarter and Melrose driving, Dick made a play that ultimately changed the game’s complexion.

Behind Garrett, who completed 13-of-30 passes for 171 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions and also rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries, the Red Raiders drove from their own 20 down inside the Tewksbury 10-yard line.

The Redmen lead appeared in limbo as Garrett fired a pass towards the right sideline of the end zone while scrambling to his right and the receiver simultaneously broke back towards the pass and prepared to make the catch.

However, Dick beat the receiver to the ball, and returned the interception from two yards in the end zone to Tewksbury’s 12-yard line.

“We were doing it all week,” Dick said. “We had the scout running it all week. At the beginning of the week they were catching it, completing it. I was like, ‘What the heck?’ But as we progressively moved through the week, I was catching on.

“I just jumped it, and that’s that.”

The play was just as critical to the Red Raiders.

“Obviously, you can’t have turnovers and expect to win,” said Melrose coach Tim Morris after his team fell to 9-2. “We haven’t really turned the ball over this year that much, (but) I think in the two losses we’ve had this year we’ve turned the ball over.”

Dick’s pick preserved the Redmen lead heading into halftime, and also set the stage for a dominant seven-plus minute span to open the third quarter.

On its first two second-half possessions, Tewksbury scored 13 unanswered points to extend its lead to 26-7 with 3:51 remaining in the quarter.

James Sullivan (20 carries, 117 yards, touchdown) started the outburst with a four-yard scoring burst up the gut. After Mitchell Miskell split the uprights on the PAT and Tewksbury held Melrose to its second consecutive three-and-out, Johnny Aylward connected with Dick on a flanker screen in the left flat. Solid blocking and the speed Dick showed to get to the left sideline turned what looked like a short gain into a 55-yard touchdown catch and run (PAT failed).

Meanwhile, over the same span the Melrose offense managed just six plays for minus-five yards. Red Raiders running plays were repeatedly snuffed out in the backfield by Tewksbury’s defensive line, and Garrett was also sacked during the six-play sequence.

“We talked all week about winning on first down,” said Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward of the Redmen defensive line. “If we could win on first down it puts them in position to do stuff that they don’t particularly want to do. Our guys got off the ball pretty good. I give them a ton of credit.”

“We just couldn’t get anything going in that third quarter,” admitted Melrose’s Morris.

The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter.

Tewksbury struck first when Tom Casey (eight carries, 72 yards, touchdown) rushed in from three-yards out (PAT failed) to give the Redmen a 32-7 advantage with 7:12 left. Melrose responded as Garrett found Colby Andrews for a 29-yard touchdown toss. Sean Foley added the PAT to close out the scoring.

Though Tewksbury set the tone early by orchestrating a 10-play, 69-yard drive, which spanned more than five minutes, to open the game and culminated in an 11-yard touchdown run by Aylward off a fake jet sweep handoff in which he sprinted in between the tackles for the score, Melrose displayed resiliency even after its first drive stalled.

The Red Raiders defense came up with a big interception deep inside Redmen territory on Melrose’s next series.

Aylward launched a pass towards the right sideline but the intended receiver, who dove while attempting to make the catch, tipped the ball in the air and into the arms of Melrose's Aaron Aveni. The Red Raiders cornerback returned the pick 12 yards to the Tewksbury 14-yard line.

After working the ball inside the one-yard line, Garrett snuck it in on the first play of the second quarter. A Foley PAT knotted the score at 7-7.

It was, however, the last time the score was tied.

On its ensuing possession, Tewksbury put together a 55-yard drive that consumed 5:10 and ended with Eddie Matovu (seven carries, 27 yards, touchdown) rumbling in for a three-yard touchdown. A failed two-point conversion brought the score to 13-7 and set the scene for Dick’s interception.

D3 Northwest Final: Tewksbury 34, Marblehead 21

November, 16, 2013
TEWKSBURY, Mass. -– Down six points and time dribbling away, Tewksbury called for James Sullivan to take a sweep to the left from the 21-yard line. As he rumbled behind a pair of blockers Marblehead's Dean Fader lined him up and locked on his target.

Sullivan slipped out of Fader's grasp and finished off the touchdown run, the Redmen's second touchdown in 30 seconds. The home sideline erupted in a fit of ecstasy. Fader laid prone on the ground, he and his team's chance at a title gone. Victory is sweet. Defeat is sour.

Sullivan's second touchdown of the game capped Tewksbury's entertaining 34-21 win over the Magicians in the Division 3 Northeast final at an over-capacity Doucette Field.

“It must have been fun from an outsider's perspective,” Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said. “Two teams that never quit and kept fighting.”

With the game tied at 21 late in the fourth the Redmen forced the Headers to make a mistake. Tom Casey jumped a sideline route, picked off Matt Millett and returned the ball 25 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown with 2:43 to go. Eddie Matovu strip-sacked Millett on the Magicians' next offensive play that set up Sullivan's late touchdown.

“Plays like Casey make are really what change games like that at the end,” Motavu said. “That was the biggest play of the game by far.”

The first half was an emotional ride for all involved.

Marblehead turned over the Redmen 81 seconds into the game and capped the ensuing 58-yard drive with a five-yard touchdown reception from Brooks Tyrrell. Tyrrell caught four balls for 55 yards and ran for a team-high 124 yards all while nursing a sprained ankle.

“He probably shouldn't have been in today,” Marblehead coach Jim Rudloff said. “Anything he gave us was gravy. I give him a lot of credit. We had a lot of kids banged up today. They played a great game today.”

Two plays later, Matovu took an inside-counter toss 78 yards to tie the game. The teams traded interceptions on consecutive plays four minutes later.

Sullivan scored from five yards out on the first play of the second quarter to put Tewksbury ahead only to see the lead disappear immediately when Mark Cohen took the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for a score. Millett and Tewksbury's Johnny Aylward exchanged passing touchdowns in the waning minutes of the half to end the chaotic first 22 minutes tied at 22.

If the first half was all about explosion then the second half was a slow burn.

The first two possessions of the third quarter were three-and-outs, and seven of the first eight combined possessions of the half ended with punts.

“The defense is definitely one of the better ones we've seen,” Johnny Aylward said. “Every adjustment we made they adjusted right back. It just came down to our execution and finishing strong.”

Rudloff said that his team played well defensively, but blinked at the wrong times.

“Defense played great the entire game except those five minutes and even then it was a play here, a play there,” Rudloff said. “That's been the story of us all year. I thought the things our team did in the second half that kept them from putting yards together helped us a lot and made us a much better team.”

The teams combined for three plays of 30 or more yards in the first half, but the defenses held them to just two plays of 20 yards or more in the second half.

As a two-way player, Matovu said that it was hard to adjust but that there was a job to be done.

“Coach has a saying that he read in a book, 'Charlie Mike', and it really just means to keep going forward no matter what,” Matovu said. “That showed in this game a lot. Don't think about the last play; think about the next play.”

Marblehead cousins Jeremy and Liam Gillis were a menace on defense from kickoff to final gun. The hard-hitting pair of linebackers were able to put a wrench in Tewksbury's ground attack for much of the game.

Jeremy also caught a pair of balls for 13 yards.

“Liam Gillis has been our leader on defense for two years,” Rudloff said. “Jeremy, this year, was the first year he really stepped up especially with about six games to go. Immense leadership from both of them. Mature kids.”

Rudloff said that the cousins Gillis lead by example and are model players on and off the field.

“They're the type of kids you want dating your daughter,” Rudloff said. “They're just good people, and they're important to this team because it's important not only to be good football players but to have good leaders, good young men on your team. It makes coaching fun; you come back to coach kids like that.”

Tewksbury's Kevin Dick did everything he could for the Redmen and more. He caught four passes for a game-high 72 yards and a touchdown, and he intercepted two balls on defense.

Having a multi-faceted weapon like Dick on the field is pivotal at this time of the year, a fact that wasn't missed by Johnny Aylward.

“Kev's an outstanding player and a great athlete,” Aylward said. “He's just a gamer no matter what the situation is. You can always rely on him to make a play."

Recap: No. 10 Tewksbury 28, Haverhill 14

October, 19, 2013
TEWKSBURY, Mass. –- With the lights shining bright, for the first time in Doucette Stadium, it would be business as usual for the hometown Tewksbury Redmen on Friday night.

Tewksbury (6-0) secured their third consecutive Merrimack Valley Conference Division 2 title as they defeated Haverhill 28-14 in the first ever night game played in the history of Doucette Stadium.

The Redmen brought in the portable lights for the “Friday Night Lights” event and the players responded, coming out strong on their opening drive of the game.

The 12-play, 70-yard drive was capped off by a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Johnny Aylward to fullback Tom Casey, out of the backfield, to give Tewksbury a 7-0 lead with four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

Haverhill would respond with 7:57 on the clock in the second quarter, as running back Ian Kessel scored to tie the game at 7-7. The sophomore showed off his speed and explosiveness on the 14-yard touchdown run that concluded an 85-yard Haverhill scoring drive.

Kessel’s touchdown was set up by a beautiful 33-yard completion from quarterback Shane Finn to wide receiver Piero Garcia. Kessel rushed for 43 of his team-high 65 yards on the scoring drive.

“They are a strong team up front,” Tewksbury head coach Brian Aylward said of Haverhill’s offensive line. “They have three very good backs and have a lot of good, hard-nosed kids.”

Tewksbury would regain the lead on the following possession, as they would execute another 70-yard scoring drive that Casey would complete, as the junior took it in from three yards out to give Tewksbury a 14-7 lead with 3:23 remaining in the half.

Key Moment: With time running out in the first half Tewkbury backed Haverhill up deep in their own territory and forced a punt that gave the Redmen favorable field position at the Haverhill 27 yard line with 2:47 remaining in the half.

James Sullivan (124 rushing yards) would capitalize on the short field, as the junior running back would take it in from two yards out, with 1:17 on the clock, to give Tewksbury a 21-7 lead that they would take to the half.

“That was huge,” Aylward said of the final scoring sequence. “It ended up being real huge with how the second half played out. That was a critical time there. We were pretty conservative right there with the timeouts and we have a tremendous amount of respect for that coaching staff at Haverhill.”

Both teams would exchange fourth quarter touchdowns as Johnny Aylward tossed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Dick for Tewksbury and Kessel would run in another touchdown (18 yards) for Haverhill, as both teams turned up the defensive intensity and limited each other’s scoring opportunities in the second half.

Winning Balance: With the win the Tewksbury continued to show a balanced team approach of using a strong running attack, timely passing, strong special teams and a staunch defensive effort.

Tewksbury is now averaging 35 points per game and has outscored their combined opponents 206-82 through their first six wins.

“All around I think our guys made plays when we needed to make plays,” Aylward said. “Special teams too; I thought they made some great plays on the kickoffs.”

The defensive effort and the running game (280 yards rushing) were the stories all night as both factors seemed to eventually wear down the big and strong Haverhill front lines.

Haverhill received strong defensive performances on the night from seniors Michael Kwegyir-Attah (2 Sacks) and Matt Burns.

Tewksbury middle linebacker John Saunders was everywhere for the Redmen on the night as he patrolled the field, going sideline-to-sideline, and exploding through the line to tackle Haverhill ball carriers.

Eddie Matovu also had a big game for the Redmen on both sides of the ball as he had 70 yards rushing on the night along with a strong defensive performance in which he held the edge all night from his outside linebacker/rover position.

Recap: No. 19 Tewksbury 27, L-S 21

September, 14, 2013
SUDBURY, Mass. -– With the game on the line and a need for a big play, Tewksbury quarterback Johnny Aylward looked for the receiver whom he calls his "best friend".

Aylward threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to fellow senior Kevin Dick (5 catches, 85 yards), giving the Redmen the lead for good with 1:28 left in the fourth quarter. Following a fumble recovery that resulted in a Troy Carey touchdown on the imposing kickoff and a Lincoln-Sudbury touchdown moments before the end of the game, the Redmen (2-0) sealed off a 27-21 victory on the road over L-S (1-1).

“They were backed off a little bit and that their ends came up and played flat," Aylward said. "We knew that they were giving the corners help, so we knew that if we could go off play action then we could get that post. You have to get them to bite on that post and then dump it down to the wheel."

Tewksbury has worked on the play since camp, itching for the opportunity to find a corner who could potentially bite on the fake.

“We felt confident that we could get Kev behind him, and that’s who we busted out today,” said Aylward.

The Redmen got off to a slow start in the first half however. Lincoln-Sudbury quarterback Ben Colello was 11-of-13 for 81 yards through the air in the first half, and had a one-yard rushing touchdown on the first score of the game. After a 10-yard touchdown pass from Aylward to Dick in the second quarter, the Warriors ended the first half on a high note, going up 14-7 on a goal line rush by Adam Gigliotti.

“It’s hard, we always talk about ‘no sacks, no turnovers, no penalties,’ we didn’t give up any sacks tonight, but we had some turnovers and we had some penalties—those are drive killers,” Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward, Johnny’s father, said after the game. “We can’t do those things and expect to beat a team like Lincoln-Sudbury.”

Of his father's halftime speech, Johnny said, “He just said stick together, don’t get down on yourselves, don’t get down on each other, and if we just starting falling apart, start pointing fingers, he said that’s just gonna tear us apart. Keep our energy up and try to battle back.

“We just had to fix some protection. The line ended up playing great in the second half and just kind of threw the ball more and then pound it in the A-gaps.”

The Redmen were able to fight their way back by tying the game in the third quarter on a touchdown by junior fullback Tom Casey (12 carries, 96 yards, TD). Casey was integral on several long drives for Tewksbury in the first half, and helped keep Lincoln-Sudbury’s defense in check in the second.

“We’ll go through this season and nobody will know his name because he blocks for two high profile guys," Brian said of his fullback. "He’s a facemasher, he sticks his face in there, and he’s been that way since he was a younger kid. I love him, I love the way he works, he only has one speed on the field, in school, in practice."

“He’s the kind of guy we like to have on the team... We‘re fortunate to beat a good team and a good program, but we have some things to work on.”


TEW (2-0) 7 0 7 13 --- 27
L-S (1-1) 7 7 0 7 --- 21

First quarter
L - Ben Colello 1 run (Greg Roder kick)
T - Kevin Dick 10 pass from Johnny Aylward (Mitchell Miskell kick)

Second Quarter
L - Adam Gigliotti 4 run (Roder kick)

Third Quarter
T - Tom Casey 1 run (Miskell kick)

Fourth Quarter
T - Dick 52 pass from Aylward (Miskell kick)
T - Troy Carey 30 fumble return (kick failed)
L - Greg Roder 3 run (Roder kick)

Recap: Tewksbury 27, Chelmsford 6

September, 7, 2013
CHELMSFORD, Mass. – It was the “James Sullivan Show” in Chelmsford on Friday night as the senior running back did it all for Tewksbury, rushing for 90 yards, with two touchdowns, one interception, and a big sack, as the Redmen defeated the host Lions, 27-6, in a Merrimack Valley Conference crossover game.

Chelmsford (0-1) would strike first early in the game as quarterback Jack Campsmith would lead the Lions down the field and find Nick Philippon on a screen pass for a 26-yard opening touchdown. A penalty on the ensuing point after try would lead to a blocked second try, giving the Lions a 6-0 lead with 5:26 remaining in the opening quarter.

Tewksbury (1-0) would answer back as Sullivan would cap off seven-play, 74-yard drive by taking it in from six yards out for the first of his two rushing touchdowns on the night. The conversion kick was muffed to knot the score at 6-6 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter.

Tewksbury would add another score before the end of the first half as Sullivan would score his second on a 10-yard scamper to give the Redmen a 12-6 lead at the break.

Tewksbury would score first in the second half on Sullivan’s second touchdown of the game from three yards out and never look back as they controlled the line of scrimmage, dominated the early down plays and used a combination of speed and aggressiveness to seal the win.

“I think the defense was the story tonight with the running game,” Tewksbury head coach Brian Aylward said after the game.

When asked about his team’s success on early downs Aylward stressed the importance of owning the first downs.

“I think that is huge,” Aylward said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for Coach (Bruce) Rich and certainly since I have been coaching against him I have learned as much about coaching as any of the coaches I have coached against. If you give them those short second-and-five downs, they will own you.”

Sullivan also stressed the importance of team defense in controlling the tempo of the game.

“Our defense was real young last year and we learned a lot over the course of the season,” Sullivan said. “We are a lot more mature and experienced this year and everyone really just executed their assignments, made the plays and we did it together.”

Balance and Toughness: Tewksbury controlled the time of possession behind the running attack of Sullivan, Eddie Matovu (81 yards) and Tom Casey as they ran between the tackles to keep the chains moving and each other fresh all night.

“If we are going to be good we are going to have to get it from all of them,” Aylward said of his stable of backs. “The teams we play are too good and the coaching staffs that we play against are too good to be beaten by a one trick pony.”

Sullivan did the bulk of the work early in the game, followed by Matovu for the majority of the middle quarters, with Casey closing it out on the ground at the end.

“We wanted to pound the C-gap and we just felt it out as they shifted all over throughout the game,” Sullivan said. “We have pretty good weapons everywhere so we feel that we have confidence to use everyone.”

The Tewksbury line, led by two-way lineman Ethan Eloi also stood out on the evening.

Big Conversions: Johnny Aylward’s stats may not tell the entire story but the senior signal caller came up with two of the biggest plays of the game as he used his legs and elusiveness to scramble outside of the pocket and complete two drive-saving passes.

The first came on a fourth-and-eight play early in the second quarter with the game tied at 6-6. Aylward rolled right and found Kevin Dick on a 9-yard sideline-route, toe dragger, for a first down that eventually led to 10-yard Matovu touchdown run.

Aylward would do it again early in the third quarter as Tewksbury led 12-6 with a third-and-long backed up in their own territory. Aylward took the snap, rolled across his body left and found a streaking John Saunders for a 15-yard gain for a critical first down.

Not Enough D’Auria: All-MVC D1 running back Jeff D’Auria of Chelmsford saw limited touches on the evening, despite gaining 61 yards on limited carries. Chelmsford had a difficult time getting into rhythm offensively and thus D’Auria’s touches suffered.

“Some of it was situational,” Rich explained. “I think we also came out right away and threw the ball well and probably loosened up a little too much out there.”

Expect to see a steady dose of D’Auria and the Chelmsford run game when Chelmsford hosts Westford Academy and Billerica the next two Fridays.

“Our M.O. is to run the football and to play action pass off of that,” Rich added. “I do not think we were able to execute the play action as we did not run the ball often enough. We have to get better everywhere and we will.”

Lekan Banged Up: Chelmsford played for most of the night without the services of senior Co-Captain Devin Lekan. The 6-foot-2, 220 pound defensive end/ tight end is one of the top returning two-way players in the MVC and left big shoes to fill on both sides of the ball in his absence.

“He has been banged up for a couple of weeks now,” Rich said. “He did it in an early scrimmage and he has just not been right. He is a great football player and we really need him to be healthy and that certainly hurt us as well.”