TEWKSBURY — When Robbie Kimtis was in the second grade, he signed up to play football. Knowing that he was one of the bigger kids on the team, he immediately told his coaches that he wanted to be a lineman.
Now ten grades later, he is a returning All-Conference offensive guard for the Tewksbury Memorial High School Football team, the reigning Division 3 Super Bowl Finalists.
Today Kimtis stands in around 6-0 and weighs about 200 pounds and certainly isn't the biggest kid physically on the field each week. But he certainly is one of the big kids in many different ways on this Redmen team.
"If you wanted to start a program fresh and wanted to have a good quality person to lead your other kids, you would start with a guy like Robbie," said Aylward. "He's a hard worker. He did a great job with the weight room and getting guys down here, consistently just staying on guys to work hard."
Last year, Kimtis was a part of a tremendous offensive line, which really went unnoticed. The Redmen scored 331 points and had over 4,000 yards of total offense including over 1,800 in the air and almost 2,200 on the ground.
"Robbie had that experience coming into last year where nothing is given to us and we have to go out and earn everything that we can, everything that is out there," said Aylward. "He has been great. He's tough, he's quick and he's put on more size than he had last year, a significant amount really. Then I thought that may slow him down a bit, but that hasn't been the case. If anything he is quicker."
Kimtis returns this year as one of guards and will also be in the mix on the defensive line as a nose guard when the team opens up the season on Friday with a trip to Needham for a non-league game. He is certainly chomping at the bit to get going.
"I think we're doing pretty good and working pretty hard out here. I like the chemistry," said Kimtis. "We have been playing together since we were really young, like second grade."
Kimtis said that a large group of the current seniors have played with each other throughout their youth football days, through the middle school and now to the high school level. They have been a part of several special teams at the high school, including last year's 11-2 mark, which included the 21-7 Super Bowl loss to Springfield Central played at Gillette Stadium.
"It was a good experience (to play in the Super Bowl), but we have to get back there (and win)," he said. "It was a good atmosphere (to be a part of), but it was disappointing to lose."
Expectations for this upcoming season are certainly high as the Redmen are ranked as one of the top teams in all of Eastern Mass, never mind Division 3. After that Super Bowl loss, Kimtis went right to the off-season program to gear up for this season.
"I have just been working hard in the weight room and I just try my best out here," he said.
He acknowledged that assistant coach Paul Norton deserves a lot of credit for the success that the offensive and defensive lines have had over the years.
"Coach Norton has been a great coach and he's been helping me everyday get better," said Kimtis. "He works with me on my footwork, my speed and quickness and just getting better."
While Kimtis has strived to get better over the years, he said the same can be said about his younger brother Cole, a sophomore, who is trying to get some varsity time as a fullback/linebacker.
"He's very strong and aggressive. He definitely could be a big player here," said Robbie.
While Cole will have two more years in a Redmen uniform, this will be the last for Kimtis, but perhaps not the last in a football uniform.
"Robbie looks confident and he's just a great kid and a great student," said Aylward. "He has a bright future ahead of him. He will most likely go on and play next year in college. He may not have the height to go to a bigger program, but he'll land on his feet somewhere and make that program better. Right now he's looking at schools like Trinity, Tufts and Bentley. He's a good student, good player and good kid so he would help any program get better.
"We are looking forward to seeing him have a big year for us. We're going to need his leadership, especially on that offensive line communicating different fronts and making checks, that sort of thing. He has the most experience so we have expectations for him to cover all of that."