No Letdown for Bowl-bound Redmen
WILMINGTON -- As expected, the Tewksbury High football team made quick work of the Wilmington Wildcats, scoring six touchdowns over the first two-plus quarters to come away with a 43-0 victory in the 85th annual contest between the schools.
Tewksbury (11-1) won its eighth game in a row and its fourth in a shutout. The Redmen won its ninth game in a row over the Wildcats, and will have another game to play Dec. 1 when the Redmen line up against Springfield Central for the Division 3 state championship at Gillette Stadium.
“I’m just happy that these guys came out to play,” said head coach Brian Aylward. “It’s not an easy thing with so many beautiful things to look at on the horizon and to stay focused on what we had to do here.”
The win also made it 150 in the career for Aylward, who took over the position after his father Bob Aylward retired before the 1997 season. Bob Aylward led the team to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances in 1995 and 1996, including a dramatic win in ’96 over Walpole. Brian has one Super Bowl title on his belt (2013) among the 150 victories.
“That’s a special thing for me for sure,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a goal or anything like that. But at the same time, I appreciate every single one of those (wins). It doesn’t matter if it’s one hundred and thirty something or fifty-something, every single one of them is special to me and not one of them was easy, including this one today. So much goes into it, so many variables go into this game, to win a football game is so hard. I’m just so proud of our guys and this group here is just a great group. We’re looking forward to next week.”
Another milestone was reached when Brian’s son Shane broke the program’s record for receptions in a season with three more giving him 50, breaking the previous mark by current longtime assistant coach Tommy Bradley.
Shane Aylward was one of six different players who scored touchdowns. Kyle Darrigo started things off with a 17-yard run for a score. Twenty-seven seconds later, senior captain Jack Kelley returned a 30-yard interception.
After both teams exchanged turnovers, Wilmington went three-and-out and had to punt from deep in its own end. Tewksbury senior Connor Nugent blocked the punt, then fell on the ball in the end zone for the score. Shane Aylward then tossed a pass to Derek Graffeo for the conversion to make it 22-0 just seven seconds into the second quarter.
“It was great that we were able to make some big plays,” said coach Aylward. “The punt block touchdown was awesome for Nugent. He is such a good kid. He has come close to those a lot over the last few years. He had a half of one earlier this year, so today I said, ‘Hey it’s the first one he got on his own,’ so that was good.”
With nine seconds left in the half, QB Jay Connolly found senior tight end Connor Brincklow open for a 14-yard TD, making it 29-0 after Tyler Keough’s fourth of five successful kicks.
Shane Aylward and Keough added the second-half scores.
Wilmington fell to 3-8, including losing the last six games of the season.
“Honestly, in that first half, I was really proud of the way we played,” said Wildcat head coach Craig Turner. “I thought our kids really hung in there. Against that type of team, I wouldn’t have surprised if it was 60-yard run after 60-yard run. We were making them earn it and making them work for it. They just wore us down with some long drives. I thought our kids were prepared and played hard, but that’s a tough matchup this year.”