HAVERHILL — Tim O’Connor understands why he was doused last night, but he thought the drenching was premature.
Following the Hillies’ 41-20 victory over Methuen, with Haverhill improving its record to 6-2 and clinching its first winning season since 2001, several players surprised their coach by pouring a jug of ice water on him.
“I didn’t expect it ... I know these kids haven’t had a lot to celebrate in a long time, but this is just a step,” said O’Connor. “We still have a lot more to do to get where we want to be.”
Agreed senior quarterback Tommy Morgan: “I didn’t even know about it (clinching the winning season) until there were five minutes left in the game and some guys were talking about it. This was just a big game we wanted to win.”
Once again, it was the offense that fueled the victory, with Chance Brady leading the way. He rushed for five touchdowns and 257 yards, including 181 yards and four TDs in the second half when the Hillies pulled away. He now has rushed for 1,637 yards and 27 touchdowns on the year.
Morgan did his part by passing for 137 yards and a touchdown, 32 yards to Jordan Javier. It was Javier’s 10th TD reception of the year.
“It’s nice that we have more balance this year,” said O’Connor. “It makes it a lot easier to move the ball.”
Haverhill’s defense also got into the act. After allowing Methuen junior William Weinhold to rush for 137 yards on 18 carries in the first half, the Hillies held him to 14 yards in the second half.
“We made some adjustments and that helped, but I think the defense is just getting better,” said O’Connor. “It’s a young group that is learning.”
Junior Michael Kwegyir-Attah was particularly effective from his outside linebacker slot, making five tackles in an eight-play sequence, and O’Connor also lauded the play of Joshua Noel and Stephane Bristol.
Contrasting punts: The talented Javier had a beautiful 49-yard punt in the third quarter that pinned Methuen back on its 3-yard-line. However, his next punt, under pressure, went only five yards.
Lots of Langford: Despite the score, Methuen had several standouts, no one bigger than receiver Colin Langford. He caught seven passes for 77 yards and two touchdowns and also intercepted a pass and returned it 22 yards. One of his TDs came on a nifty 28-yard halfback pass from Brian Cole.
Avoiding Chance: Methuen decided not to kick deep on kickoffs to Haverhill star Chance Brady. The Rangers proved successful, but the strategy gave Haverhill the ball on its own 40, 48 and 45 and, once when the ball didn’t go 10 yards, on Methuen’s 41.
Haverhill 41, Methuen 20
Methuen (2-6): 0 7 7 6 — 20
Haverhill (6-2): 7 7 14 13 — 41
H — Chance Brady 27 run (Patrick Yale kick), 4:59
M — Colin Langford 9 pass from Austin George-Williams (George-Williams kick), 2:58
H — Jordan Javier 32 pass from Tommy Morgan (Yale kick), 0:31
H — Brady 43 run (kick failed), 9:41
M — Langford 28 pass from Brian Cole (George-Williams Cole kick), 7:08
H — Brady 18 run (Shain Roche pass from Morgan), 2:30
H — Brady 9 run (Yale kick), 8:23
H — Brady 3 run (kick failed), 6:08
M — Mike Baglieri 2 run (pass failed), 4:01
RUSHING: H (29-264) — Chance Brady 25-257, Josh Ramsdell 1-6, Orlando Rojas 3-1; M (42-213) — William Weinhold 25-161, Austin George-Williams 12-21, Mike Baglieri 4-28, Jake Amadio 1-3
PASSING: H — Tommy Morgan 11-21-2, 137; M — George-Williams 12-21-2, 98; Brian Cole 1-1-0, 28; Mike Baglieri 3-3-0, 45
RECEIVING: H — Shain Roche 4-60, Piero Garcia 1-11, Jordan Javier 4-57, Chance Brady 1-3, Josh Ramsdell 1-6; M — Colin Langford 7-77, Evan Lacroix 5-46, Josh Noel 1-2, Jake Amadio 1-15, Spencer Billcher 1-15, William Weinhold 1-(-2)
Impressive numbers Haverhill senior Chance Brady has now rushed for 1,637 yards and 27 rushing touchdowns on the season, with three games left. He has gained at least 200 yards in five straight games and six overall.