Midway through the third quarter of Friday night’s South Shore showdown at Randolph, Hull senior linebacker Aidan Murphy tweaked a lower body injury and the Pirates’ coaching staff called a timeout to assess the injury.
When play resumed, Murphy was back in the game without missing a snap, powering Hull to a 31-20 victory in a rematch of the 2021 Division 8 Super Bowl.
The win was a measuring stick for the Pirates, who fell short last December at Gillette Stadium, 20-14.
”I knew I wasn’t coming out of the game because I knew how important that game was for us, especially after last year,” said Murphy, who registered an eye-popping 22 tackles. “They are a good football team and we wanted revenge.”
The 6-foot, 240-pound Murphy has been the motor of the undefeated Pirates (4-0) this year. Also a four-year starter at center, the senior captain has helped to ease the transition for three new starters on the offensive line, while racking up 69 tackles and an interception in four games.
”Aidan makes all the calls on the offensive line, it’s great to have that leadership,” said sixth-year coach Mike O’Donnell. “He’s very tough on himself, he makes other kids rise to the occasion and he is able to make all those reads for us.”
John Gianibas (599 rushing yards, seven touchdowns through four games), the Globe’s reigning Division 8 Player of the Year, is largely the beneficiary of the offensive line’s work, along with backfield mate Nick Tiani, a junior.
“Playing on the line for four years you kind of get to know it like the back of your hand,” Murphy said. “And it’s good to know if you block well that John is going to get the job done and he’s going to find yards because he’s just that talented.”
The Pirates also feature senior receiver Austin Bongo, who is headed to Williams, and 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound senior tight end Tyler Sordillo, who adds options for the offensive attack.
Another key returnee is senior kicker Logan Chenette, who has been working with volunteer coach Jeremy Shelley, who won three national championships kicking at Alabama and is sixth on the Crimson Tide’s career scoring list. Shelley has helped turn the kicking game into a team strength.
Chenette has converted all 18 of his kicks this season, including a career long 46-yard field goal to put away Friday’s game at Randolph.
”Jeremy has done a remarkable job and Logan has bought in,” said O’Donnell. “Let’s be honest, a lot of high school teams can’t say ‘from 40 yards and in, let’s kick it,’ so for us to have that it’s a huge asset for our program.”
▪ With his team’s 26-14 triumph over Merrimack Valley Conference foe North Andover on Friday, Tewksbury coach Brian Aylward recorded his 177th career victory for a flawless 4-0 start to his 26th season. Combined with 123 wins from his father, Bob, the Aylward duo has totaled 300 wins for the Redmen.
Bob was a part of four Super Bowl teams in his 18-year run at Tewksbury — spanning from 1974 to 1996 with a four-year stint at Nashua sandwiched in between (1990-94). Brian coached with Bob during the 1995-96 seasons and played for him from 1983-87. His older brother, Rob, quarterbacked the Super Bowl champion team in 1985 with Brian turning heads at running back.
Brian was inspired to become a coach from his father’s commitment to making his players not just better on the field, but better as people.
“When you grow up with it, you see the impact that he’s had on all sorts of kids and the relationships that he develops with so many guys over so many years, that was a draw to it,” said Brian.
Bob still attends games, constantly chatting X’s and O’s with his son. The two were presented game balls with their respective number of wins from Tewksbury AD Ron Drouin.
“I’m humbled by it, just to contribute to a part of that, the tradition of Tewksbury football,” said Brian. “I’ve learned a lot about football from [my father], but the biggest thing is that you treat every kid as if it were your own kid.”
▪ Methuen is off to a 4-0 start with huge Merrimack Valley Conference matchups coming up against Andover (4-0) and the following week against reigning league champion Central Catholic. The Rangers have rolled on offense with junior quarterback Drew Eason (34-of-50 passing, 456 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs) and his younger brother, Shane Eason (50 carries, 380 yards, 12 total TDs), a sophomore, leading the way. Methuen was tested in Week 2 at Marshfield when the Rams scored 22 unanswered to nearly erase a 24-0 deficit, but the Rangers prevailed, 38-28.
“It showed that when we focus and execute we can compete with anyone,” said coach Tom Ryan.
▪ Amesbury has pounded the ground for 122 points in a 3-0 start, outscoring Triton, 40-35, on Friday night. Coach Colin McQueen says his offensive line has been key, as backs Henry O’Neill (seven TDs) and Nick Marden (four TDs), as well as quarterback Luke Arsenault (four TDs) have had gaping holes to run through.
“We’ve been really good offensively,” McQueen said. “The line has been exceptional in terms of their physicality and their communication and understanding of schemes.”
▪ Junior Nick Araujo has been a three-way star for Milford during its 4-0 start, contributing at both linebacker and running back, in addition to kicking field goals.
After making 11-of-13 field goals — including all six attempts beyond 40 yards — a year ago, Araujo booted a career-long 51-yarder and added a 34-yard touchdown run in a 24-0 Hockomock victory over Attleboro on Friday night.
“He’s a strong and tough kid,” Milford coach Dale Olson said. “He’s 6-foot, 230 pounds and consistently hits well over 50 [yards] in practice for us, so I wasn’t surprised that he made it.”
▪ Melrose coach Tim Morris earned his second Hall of Fame induction in as many weeks after being welcomed into the Bridgton Academy Hall of Fame, which he attended before Springfield College. Morris was inducted into the Melrose High School Hall of Fame last weekend. He has won 206 games in 29 years with the Red Hawks, including Division 4 Super Bowl titles in 2017 and 2019.
▪ Salem defeated Gloucester, 26-14, as junior quarterback Corey Grimes accounted for three touchdowns. Picking up a key Northeastern Conference South Division win wasn’t the remarkable feat: the Witches left Gloucester with a victory for the first time since 1999.
▪ There are 29 remaining undefeated teams in Eastern Massachusetts (non-NEPSAC), highlighted by four from the Merrimack Valley Conference . . . St. John’s Prep senior Jesse Ofurie opened Friday’s 40-6 win over La Salle (R.I.) with an 80-yard kickoff return for touchdown, the second straight week the Rutgers commit has returned a kickoff to the house.
Correspondents Brad Joyal, Cam Kerry, Eamonn Ryan, AJ Traub, and Nate Weitzer contributed to this story.
Colin Bannen can be reached at email@example.com.