Tewksbury Redmen Football '14

Haverhill clinched MVC Small title with defensive dominance

HAVERHILL — It was Haverhill football’s motto from the first day of camp to the fourth quarter on Saturday.

“This is our time!” they yelled.

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Football, 10/18/14 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Methuen stymied again

METHUEN — Hoping to rebound from the most humbling of losses, Methuen instead once again found itself in an insurmountable hole. The kind of deficit a struggling team must avoid against a defending Division 3 state champion.

Tewksbury, ranked fifth in Eastern Mass, took advantage of the stunned Rangers, scoring on each of its first four possessions last night en route to a 34-6 Merrimack Valley Small victory. It was the Methuen coach Tom Ryan's second straight loss to the program he spent the previous 12 years as an assistant.

"We're always looking forward to a nice home game — especially against Tewksbury because coach Ryan coming from there," Methuen quarterback Mike Baglieri said. "That always gives us the extra hype. Beating a top-five team really would have meant a lot to us."

The first quarter appeared more of the same for Methuen, which was held to a mere 30 total yards in a 31-point shutout loss to Haverhill six days earlier. The Rangers were stymied offensively yet again, gaining minus-8 yards on nine first-half rushes while completing only six of their 22 pass attempts.

"The first quarter was a field-position nightmare," Ryan said.

In the meantime Tewksbury (4-1 overall, 3-0 conference) found the end zone with ease, needing only 14 plays from scrimmage to open a 27-0 lead before the scoreboard moved onto the second quarter.

Methuen had one drive of 15 plays for 30 yards, but 20 of them came via penalty. An interception by Mike Phelger set up another possession at the Tewksbury 19, but despite picking up a first down, negative plays resulted in a loss of downs at the 17.

"We had a good week of practice," Ryan said. "In fact, Wednesday was one of our better practice days we had all year. The senior leadership is great that way. There have been a lot of positive things.

"But when the lights are turned on, there are a lot of execution things we mess up. I have to prepare the kids to overcome those things."

The Rangers (1-5, 1-3) averted a second consecutive shutout when John Abraham made an acrobatic leaping catch while falling backward in the corner of the end zone on an 11-yard pass from Kendrick Denose.

"At this stage of the game, we have to prepare for the future," Ryan said.

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Football, 10/10/14 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars

Big plays undo Lawrence

TEWKSBURY — Take away 6 minutes of yesterday's first half, and Lawrence might have had a chance against the defending Division 3 state champs.

But Tewksbury only needed that exact time of possession to score all its points in a most confounding 35-7 victory over the visiting Lancers.

If you skip forward and scan the second half stats, you'd think Lawrence might have taken the Redmen to the wire. But allowing only 73 total yards after intermission was akin to closing the proverbial barn door a tad late.

"We moved the ball offensively a little bit in the first half, but defensively we didn't play well," Lawrence coach Mike Yameen said. "We had a little talk in the locker room and (the defense) responded and played well in the second half. But like I told them we have to have that sense of urgency for 44 more minutes. Not for 22 and the game's out of hand."

Lawrence (2-3) appeared capable of a major upset, going 79 yards on the opening possession and taking a 7-0 lead on a 26-yard scoring pass from Nelson Valerio to Luis Crispin.

But that only seemed to motivate the Redmen, who scored on all five first-half possessions — only one of which actually ran plays in Lawrence territory.

"We've been having problems all years defensively," Yameen said. "That just puts pressure on the offense. You give up that many scores and you have to change your whole offensive game plan."

The assault began with a 53-yard scoring pass from Brett Morris to Adam Gajjaoui, and continued with a 68-yard James Sullivan run.

On its third possession, Tewksbury ran the only five plays required on Lawrence's side of the 50 to up its advantage to 21-7 on another Sullivan scamper. The fourth possession resulted in a 52-yard James Hirtle touchdown and was followed by a 53-yard Morris-to-Hirtle pass.

When the dust settled on the first two quarters, Tewksbury had compiled 317 yards offense on just 16 plays (19.8-yard average). And it's five possessions averaged only 72 seconds.

Lawrence showed its offensive skill on several occasions, but despite starting its first three second-half possessions at the 50 or better, were unable to find the end zone.

"We had some breakdowns in the line, and against a team that good, you can't have that," Yameen said. "This league is good. You can't make mistakes like that and expect to win these games."

Despite losing each of its past two division games, Lawrence still remains active in the playoff chase with games remaining Friday against North Andover, which amassed only 135 yards total offense to Tewksbury a week earlier, before closing the regular season at Billerica.

"I just told the boys next week essentially is a playoff game," Yameen said. "We have to win two. That will put us at 4-3, and I think we can get in with a little help at 4-3."

Despite their difficult opening, the Lancers did make an impression on at least one coach.

"That (first-half production) is pretty good," Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said of his squad. "But at the same time, it speaks to what Lawrence can do on offensive. We've played some teams that may get more respect than Lawrence, but at the same time, they pose a lot of problems.

"They have good skills. Obviously, the (Valerio) is the leader of the pack but they have plenty of good receivers and good schemes. They did some really good things against us in different sets. I give (the Lancers) some credit."

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Football, 10/04/14 » 0 Comments & 0.0 Stars