Since there’s no high school football season this fall, the Town Crier has been publishing archive game stories of old TMHS Football games, matching up the current week’s game. Below is the week four game from the October 10th, 2007 edition with the Redmen defeating Methuen, 34-7.
METHUEN — If a team is really ready to make a run at a championship, at some point in any season it must survive some adversity and rebound from a somewhat surprising setback. Tewksbury High School's football team did just that and a little more Friday night, throwing a wrecking ball into the middle of Methuen's Homecoming Game with a 34-7 whipping that got coach Brian Aylward's Redmen right back into the title-contending pack.
Coming off a blowout loss at Chelmsford a week ago, the Redmen (4-1) still find themselves in the thick of the MVC race heading into this Saturday afternoon's showdown with Andover (4-1) at Doucette Field. Undefeated Billerica (5-0) still looms on the conference horizon, but Tewksbury's title hopes would have went right out the window had the team stumbled against a much-improved Methuen (2-3) team.
The Rangers were coming off a big win over Haverhill, while playing Billerica tough in a 20-10 defeat just two weeks ago, so the Redmen knew that the home team, at least at the game's outset, would be hanging tough.
Tewksbury got off to a rather shaky first quarter start when quarterback Chris Texeira was intercepted twice and Methuen QB Matt Bartlett found several open receivers deep in the TMHS secondary.
The Redmen righted themselves in the second quarter, as senior Derek Lowe busted off right tackle for a 47-yard run that led to a Justin Torname one-yard bust over right tackle for the game's first touchdown. Ron Wallace toed the first of his four PAT's and the visitors led, 7-0 with 9:11 left to play in the first half.
The score was a sign of some crisp offense down the road, as Lowe, along with fellow running backs Torname, Mike Willey and Mike Hanafin, filled in ably for the injured Joel Altavista (ankle sprain). Tewksbury has several players banged up, but that didn't deter the offense in the first half, as the Redmen looked ready to explode despite the small 7-0 halftime margin. This speaks to the team's preparation in the week following the Chelmsford loss.
"The kids needed to be tough guys out here tonight — mentally and physically — and they certainly were," praised Aylward. "I'm hoping that Altavesta will be back for Andover this week. He's hurt, but we've got a few kids that are hurt. They're all sucking it up and being tough at this point."
Altavista, who is known around the conference as one of Tewksbury's toughest players, watched as his mates and a dinged-up offensive line took off in the second half.
A 27-yard power run by Lowe and a 13-yard completion from Texeira to senior receiver Pat Devlin (another solid game) set up Tewksbury's second touchdown, a 14-yard connection from Texeira to Devlin, who more often than not is wide open streaking down the sideline. Wallace, improving his kicks with every game, was perfect on the PAT again and the Redmen led, 14-0 with 4:32 to play in the third quarter.
After suffering through a game where the offense never got off the ground, the Redmen were back in stride, thanks largely to some running backs that are proving to be interchangeable and an offensive line that has been the team's strong suit from day one.
"They (offensive line) were the guys who were the most dinged-up emotionally because they had a tough outing against Chelmsford as a unit," admitted Aylward. "They all took it as a matter of pride to come out here and get after a good MVC defensive line." That unit, comprised of Justin Griffin, Ed Donovan, Joe Gulino, Tyler Deshler, Chase Bartrum and Bryan O'Keefe, will need to be at its best again to hold off a rather large and mobil Andover defensive front.
It was Tewksbury's defensive line that began controlling the game late in that third quarter, and senior T.J. Hughes capped that domination off nicely when he intercepted a Bartlett pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 34 yards for the touchdown with just under three minutes to play in the quarter. Wallace continued his perfect night with the PAT as TMHS led, 21-0 after three quarters, with the Rangers now showing no signs of coming back.
The final quarter was basically an exclamation point by the first string offense followed by some solid play from some junior varsity substitutes. Torname scored his second touchdown from seven yards out as Hanafin wiped out a pair of Methuen defenders with a perfect block, and back-of-the-future Chris Legerstrom wrapped things up with an eight-yard bolt with under a minute left in the game. Methuen's only touchdown of the game came with Bartlett found Dan Higgins with a 20 yard strike over the middle of the Tewksbury defense.
"I was happy with the way that we played," said Aylward after his team's fourth victory. "The kids played tough. I knew it was going to be a tough game, because Methuen is a good football team. They've got a good coaching staff (led by Pat Graham) and we've always respected the toughness of their kids. Even in the years when they haven't been able to put it all together, they've always had smash-mouth type of kids."