NORTH ANDOVER — Kyle Darrigo may not be built like a typical closer, but Tewksbury’s 5-foot-6-inch, 160-pound running back knows how to put an opponent away.
On a cold Friday evening, Darrigo rushed for 218 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries to lead the Redmen in a 41-14 victory, clinching the Merrimack Valley Conference Small title.
“Look at me, I’m 5-6,” Darrigo said. “It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s about the fight in the dog and you won’t find [that] in any other team [more than] us. We have each other’s back, we work together, and we get the job done.”
Tewksbury (4-0) capitalized on a special teams mishap to take an early 7-0 lead on Darrigo’s first score, from 7 yards out. Darrigo set up his second score (a 2-yard run) with a 24-yard run and 20-yard reception, then picked off North Andover quarterback Will Schimmoeller and broke a 42-yard run to set up a 5-yard touchdown run from Kalu Olu.
“[Darrigo is] not the biggest kid, but he’s tough as nails,” Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward said.
The Scarlet Knights (1-3) kept fighting, despite playing shorthanded with a large portion of their roster in quarantine because of contact tracing related to a recent JV game. Senior tailback Steven Ferullo (18 carries, 85 yards) kept the chains moving for Schimmoeller to find Max Wolfgang on a 14-yard touchdown reception, and Schimmoeller added a 31-yard touchdown pass to Jack Ferullo shortly before halftime to make it a 21-14 game at the break.
In the third quarter Tewksbury got back to basics, handing the ball to Darrigo eight consecutive times for 66 yards, as the senior captain scored from 11 yards out to expand the lead to 28-14.
“At halftime we had to calm them down and get back to what we had planned,” Aylward said. “We wanted to try and run the ball. We don’t want to be a one-trick pony. We want to stay diverse, but tonight the conditions weren’t good to sling the ball around, so it was all about the run game.”
Darrigo broke a 54-yard touchdown run to top 200 yards for the game, and Tewksbury quarterback Ryne Rammetta hit fellow senior captain Will McKay for a 15-yard touchdown off play-action to put the game beyond doubt.
Along with Darrigo, sophomore Michael Sullivan recorded an interception, and Tewksbury’s defense hardly gave up an inch outside of the second quarter.
“We’re going to be overmatched in certain areas every week, and we try to just play as a team,” Aylward said. “When one end of the defense needs the other to pick them up, they have so far.”