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Your Tewksbury Today

Redmen May Need Some Magic In Marblehead

Nov 06, 2014 07:51PM ● By Rick Spencer

Jimmy Hirtle and the Tewksbury rushing attack look to control the ball on the ground against Marblehead

The Tewksbury High football defense will face it's stiffest challenge of the season when 
the Redmen journey to the North Shore to face undefeated Marblehead High School in the 
MIAA Div. 3 sectional semi-finals Friday night.
At 8-0 so far this season, Marblehead boasts one of the most prolific offenses in the 
state. Led by senior quarterback Spencer Craig, the Magicians are averaging 41 points per 
game, and have beat all but one of their opponents by more than 20 points this season.
The lone team to lose to Marblehead by less than 20 was Somerville, which jumped out to an 
early 20-0 lead on the Magicians in the first round of the play-offs last Friday night, 
only to watch Marblehead roar back and take a 42-26 victory.
Craig, who will play his college football at the U.S. Naval Academy next year, is a 
talented two-way player who can hurt opposing defenses both on the ground and through the 
air. Craig has completed 81-of-137 passes for 1536 yards and 13 touchdowns so far this 
year, while also rushing for 502  yards and 10 touchdowns.
Craig's favorite target is big tight end Will Millett, who has 932 receiving yards and 10 
touchdown receptions.
Stopping Marblehead's passing game is only half the battle, as senior running back Brooks 
Tyrrell has rushed for an amazing 1429 yards and 22 touchdowns. Tyrrell averages over 
eight yards per carry.
Fortunately for Tewksbury, defense has been one of the hallmarks of the 2014 Redmen, who have allowed an average of just 8.0 points per game so far this season.
Containing Marblehead will be no easy task, according to TMHS head coach Brian Aylward.
"We're gonna start off by trying to make 'em punt once in a while," Aylward deadpanned. 
"That would be something different for them.
"We just have to try to contain them and play one down at a time," he added on a more 
serious note. "We want to try to put them in second and long and limit their options for 
play calling."
Aylward hopes Tewksbury can establish a strong ground game against Marblehead, in an 
effort to control the clock and avoid getting into a shoot-out with Craig and company.
"We're gonna have to play well in all three phases of the game." Aylward said. "We need to 
control the ball on offense. That's the best way to keep a good offense off the field."
So far this season, the Redmen have had great success in establishing the run. Senior 
running back James Sullivan leads Tewksbury in rushing with almost 500 yards on the ground and eight rushing touchdowns. Senior back Jimmy Hirtle has gained 467 yards and scored seven touchdowns while senior back Tom Casey has added 412 yards and five touchdowns.
Junior quarterback Brett Morris has also been a constant threat, with nearly 800 passing yards and seven passing touchdowns.
"We can't just rely on the running game against (Marblehead)," Aylward said. "We're going 
to have to keep them off balance and make some throws. We'll try to mix it up inside and 
outside and make some throws downfield. We'll try to change up formations and keep them in their base defense much as we can."
The game will be a rematch of last year's MIAA Division 3 Northeast championship game, won by Tewksbury, 34-21, on Nov. 16, 2013. The Redmen went on to capture the Division 3 state championship three weeks later.
Both schools will have plenty of players on the field who played in last year's game, and 
Aylward hopes his veteran players will rise to the occasion and control the Marblehead 
offense. Troy Cary, Ryan Bednarek, Sullivan and Ryan Cary have been very stingy in the 
Tewksbury secondary, while linebackers Tom Casey and Andrew Nguyen have made dozens of big plays. Senior defensive lineman Ethan Eloi has helped Tewksbury win most of the battles in the trenches.
"We've got a lot of veteran guys in the defensive backfield who have done a great job for 
us this year," Aylward said. "Casey has done a great job at middle linebacker and Sully 
and (Bednarek) have been great at safety.
"We have a lot of faith in the kids we've got out there." Aylward added. "They're smart 
kids and the biggest thing is they work hard and they're relentless. They keep running to 
the ball. For them, it's never too late to get into the play. Their pursuit has been very 
good and their sense of urgency has been very good."
Overall, the game has the makings of being a very memorable high school football game.
"We're excited about the opportunity to play against one of the best teams in the state," 
Aylward said "They were one of the best teams if not the best team we faced last year. We 
also know we're only team they've lost to in a long time. We're going to have to limit 
turnovers and mistakes. We're going to have to be at our best."

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