TEWKSBURY – Not just because it was football, not because there's more players involved and not because of the team's success, but this week marks the 15th team that the Town Crier has featured with our picks for the respective "All-Decade Team" and by far this was the hardest team to select.
One of the biggest reasons why Tewksbury has been so successful over the decade is the versatility of its players, who can excel in a number of different roles and so many players qualified for so many different spots on these assembled teams.
That being said, there was an enormous amount of talent on these teams throughout the decade and trying to nail it to down to 44 players was impossible. Add to that two phenomenal quarterbacks, two phenomenal wide receivers, and you are stuck with numbers.
To ease that problem and to get as many deserving kids as possible onto the Town Crier All-Decade TMHS Football team, we decided to make a 'Super-6' team, which is made up of six of the all-time greats of this decade. Of the six selections, five were named to either the Boston Globe or Boston Herald All-Scholastic team during their careers, and the sixth guy happened to play quarterback on arguably the greatest team ever assembled, while two years earlier, he took snaps in his first of two appearances on the same field that Tom Brady used to play on.
QB: Johnny Aylward
The one player on this team who was not All-Scholastic, but certainly should have been. As a sophomore, I'll never forget some of the hits he took in the fourth quarter of a blowout loss in the Super Bowl game against a superior Duxbury team.
A year later, he came back to the lead the 2012 team to a 7-5 record, including the MVC Division 2 Championship title. That season he threw for over 1,100 yards with nine touchdown passes, while rushing for 600 additional yards with eight more scores.
Then as a senior, everything came together. Named to both the MVC All-Conference and Lowell Sun First team All-Star squads, he was the QB on arguably the greatest team in the history of the program. The Redmen finished 13-0, won the MVC D2 Championship, the Division 3 North Sectional, Eastern Mass and State Championship titles. That season he finished with over 1,300 passing yards with 17 TDs, to go along with 350 rushing yards and five touchdowns.
In two seasons as a starter, the teams went 20-5 and he combined for 2,400 passing yards and 26 touchdowns, as well as rushing for almost 1,000 yards and adding 13 more scores. No other QB led his team to a 13-0 record, and no other QB ever appeared in two super bowl games.
He went on to play at St. Anselm College is and now working as a coach in the Houston Texans organization.
QB: Jay Connolly – He finished his career with what's believed to be more victories as a QB than anyone in the history of the program with a mark of 31-5. In 2016, as a sophomore, he threw for 1,050 yards with 11 TD passes as the team finished 10-1, losing in the second round of the playoffs.
In 2017, he threw for over 1,300 yards with 17 TD passes and added two rushing scores as the team finished 10-2, losing in the Eastern Mass Final.
Then in 2018, he finished with 1,650 passing yards with 16 TDs, while adding seven rushing TDs.
In his three years, he amassed over 4,000 passing yards, 44 TD passes and nine rushing touchdowns. He was named a two-time All-Conference selection, the MVC Division 2 Player of the Year and an All-Scholastic selection as a senior.
RB: James Sullivan – Ranked as one of our all-time greatest running backs in program history, Sullivan, a four-year player, finished his career with almost 3,100 rushing yards and 46 rushing touchdowns and almost reaching 4,000 total yards of offense.
In 2013, he was named the MVC Division 2 and Lowell Sun Player of the Year, as well as an All-Scholastic after rushing for almost 1,300 yards with 22 touchdowns, while he also had 20 catches for 250 yards and two more scores. Then defensively, he had 90 tackles and six interceptions from the defensive back spot.
In 2014, he was again the League and Sun's Player of the Year, and an All-Scholastic after rushing for 900 yards and adding 300 receiving yards and totaling 18 touchdowns. Defensively he had 50 tackles and two interceptions.
In his four years with the team, the Redmen had a combined record of 36-14, with four league titles and two trips to the Super Bowl.
He went on to play at St. Anselm College.
WR: Shane Aylward – Perhaps you learned quickly what the MVC and the state of Massachusetts thinks of Aylward as a football player after this past season. Playing in half of the games due to the ankle injuries from the Dracut game, he was still named as an All-Scholastic for the second straight year and the Lowell Sun and MVC Player of the Year.
As a senior, he caught 29 passes for almost 400 yards with two touchdowns, but also had almost 300 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the ground and then four additional touchdowns on kickoff returns. Defensively, he made 34 tackles and had two interceptions.
As a junior, he had 1,050 receiving yards with nine touchdowns, while he also broke a long-time school record for most receptions in a season with 51. He also had 550 rushing yards and five touchdowns. Defensively he had 37 tackles and three interceptions and was named to the MVC All-Conference team.
In his career, he was just shy of 1,000 rushing yards, while he had almost 1,700 receiving yards and scored a total of 30 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 108 tackles and eight interceptions.
He will continue to play this fall at Endicott College.
WR: Kevin Dick – He makes his third appearance on a Town Crier All-Decade team after being selected to both basketball and lacrosse, which comes after being one of the top vote getters for the Town Crier's Male Athlete of the Decade.
In 2012, he finished the season with 700 receiving yards and seven touchdowns and as a defensive back, he had 44 tackles and three interceptions. Then in the perfect season of 2013, he had 47 receptions for 840 yards and 12 touchdowns, giving him 19 in two seasons. Defensively, he finished that season with 64 tackles and four interceptions, giving him seven picks in two seasons.
He was named an All-Scholastic that season as well as a two-time MVC and Lowell Sun All-Star. Those two teams combined for a 20-5 record.
He went on to have a terrific career at Stonehill College.
OL/DL: Justin Rosberg – On the defensive side of the ball, the 6-foot-3, 240-pounder was awesome and no other way to put in. A two-time All-Conference selection, Rosberg was added to the offensive line later in his career and still played very well there but he really excelled in many different positions on the defensive side.
In 2017, he was named the MVC Division 2 Lineman of the Year, as well as an All-Scholastic. He finished with 54 tackles including 14 for loss of yards.
He is now playing at Wesleyan University.