METHUEN — Staggered and trailing St. John’s Prep, 27-0, at the half last night, first-year Methuen High football coach Tom Ryan learned a little bit about his new football program and the heart of the Rangers.
“At that point, I just challenged the kids to win the next play. Could we do that?” said Ryan.
His club answered the call in the positive, rallying back into the game and avoiding the ugly blowout. Yes, Methuen ultimately tumbled, 41-21, but ...
“Look, we fought. We fought and we kept at it, and that’s what you love to see,” said Ryan, whose club falls to 5-5. “Of course, none of that matters if we don’t go out and get the next one on Thanksgiving (at Dracut).”
The Prep, even without All-Scholastic Johnny Thomas, remains a pretty imposing force, even when its 189-pound junior Cody Harwood moving the chains and not the dynamic Thomas.
Harwood carried 28 times for 187 yards. When he needed a breather or the Prep called for a change of pace, it was Groveland sophomore battering ram Jack Lambert, who ran seven times for 55 yards and three TDs.
“We just don’t see power-running teams all too much any more, so this is a tough matchup for us,” said Ryan. “I had a feeling we might be in trouble at the line of scrimmage. And for the first half, we were.”
If you’re a Ranger fan, you have to be pretty enthused about what you’ve seen, especially last night in the second half.
Austin George-Williams hit a pair of early third-quarter bombs to senior classmate Evan Lacroix — one good for 75 yards to set up a score and the second, a 53-yard TD connection that sliced the margin to 27-14 mid third.
A much more aggressive Ranger defense sparked the flurry.