Gallery: TMHS v. Danvers [8 Images] Click any image to expand.
Truth be told, neither Tewksbury High nor Danvers High could claim to have played the
perfect football game in rainy, windy and cold conditions at Tewksbury's Doucette Field
But what the TMHS Redmen can say is that they took better advantage of the turnovers and
the sloppy field conditions in running away with a lop-sided, 34-6 victory over Danvers in
the first round of the MIAA Division 3 Northeast play-offs.
The Redmen overcame a lost fumble in the first half without surrendering a score, then
turned two Danvers turnovers into immediate touchdowns as they built a 21-0 half time
lead. Senior defensive back Ryan Bednarek helped seal the deal with a third-quarter
interception that set up Tewksbury's fourth touchdown of the day, extending the TMHS lead
to 28-0 at the time.
"We've talked an awful lot about when you get sudden change situations you've got to have
this sense of urgency," said TMHS coach Brian Aylward. "And we answered with sense of
urgency every time things didn't go right, and I think that's great."
Senior running back James Sullivan scored three rushing touchdowns while Tom Casey and
Jimmy Hirtle each ran for a score, as Tewksbury's running game was the big difference maker.
Sullivan carried 16 times for 65 yards, Casey carried 10 times for 87 yards and Hirtle
added 14 yards on nine caries as all five of Tewksbury's touchdowns came on the ground on
a day that was not conducive to passing the ball.
"Our workhorse guys were great," Aylward said "I thought that Casey was just as tough as
nails and Sully was just as tough as nails. All the work those guys do all year
round, and Jimmy Hirtle too. They work so hard, those three kids...We really needed them
today and they brought it."
Danvers, which runs a spread offense and has depended on its passing attack for much of
its offense this year, seemed to suffer from the poor weather conditions more than
Tewksbury did. In addition to their offensive exploits, both Casey and Hirtle came up with
first-half interceptions of Falcon quarterback Nick Andreas, and both turnovers led to
short rushing touchdowns by Sullivan.
Andreas completed just 7-of-22 passes for 56 yards, while being intercepted three times
and sacked three times by the Tewksbury defense.
"The weather kind of equalized a lot of things, a lot of speed, a lot of athleticism,"
said Sullivan. "It kind of made it tougher for them to throw the ball. It's kind of a
different game when you play in this weather, but no matter what happens you have to come
out and play."
Tewksbury's defense did come out and play, as in addition to the three interceptions, the
Redmen got strong defensive efforts from linebacker Andrew Nguyen, defensive tackle Ethan Eloi and defensive ends Alex Schedlfaudt and Scott Pastorello. In the secondary, Sullivan, Bednarek, Casey, Troy Carey and Ryan Carey all came up with big defensive plays.
"I'm happy with the way our guys gutted it out under these conditions," Aylward said. "I'm
happy with the way they broke down with discipline on defense and made tackles when they
needed to make tackles."
Sullivan capped an eight-play, 52-yard drive by scoring the first of his three TDs on the
first play of the second quarter to give Tewksbury a 7-0 lead. After Casey's interception
midway through the second quarter, Sullivan again plunged in from three yards out to make
Sullivan extended the lead to 21-0 when he took a pitch-out six yards around left end for
a touchdown with 1:55 to go in the first half.
In the first minute of the third quarter, Bednarek returned his interception to the
Danvers 21 yard line, setting up Casey's 21-yard touchdown run on the next play. Hirtle
capped the Tewksbury scoring with a seven-yard TD scamper on a reverse in the opening
minute of the fourth quarter.
Tewksbury will now face unbeaten Northeast Conference champion Marblehead in the Division 3 Northeast semi-finals Friday night in Marblehead. Both Sulllivan and Aylward know that the road to a possible second straight state championship gets tougher from here.
"We had our moments (Saturday) and we had some stuff we didn't do very well," Sullivan
said. "We can definitely improve. We had some good plays and we had some miscues that we've got to fix before next week."
"They're really good," said Aylward of Marblehead. "They have an explosive offense. They
have so many weapons that they can hurt you with. They're loaded with speed, they're big
up front. There's a reason they're undefeated."
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