METHUEN – Juan “JP” Muniz wasn’t sure he could face Everett for Methuen’s first-round Division 1 playoff game on Friday night.
But the captain of the senior team survived a leg injury to help the Rangers carry the burden from the backcourt.
For nine-year-old Methuen coach Tom Ryan, it was the biggest win for the program in 30 years.
“We believe here,” said Ryan. “It took us nine years and a lot of losses. These kids would rally and play the games when we were up against a great team. [Everett] is unbelievable. We had no reason to be in the field with them, but our children didn’t care. “
Methuen (7-2) meets the top seeded Franklin (8-0) in the quarter-finals of Division 1 (TBA).
Everett (7-1) struck first with Jayden Clerveaux (10 carries, 183 yards, 2 TD) who broke a 62-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Clerveaux cracked an 82 yard score in the second scrimmage game of the third quarter, but the Crimson Tide offensive was largely blocked for the rest of a close affair.
Omar Aboutoi brought Methuen on with a 19-yard field goal in the first quarter, then Rangers took gold when Drew Eason hit Will McKinnon for a 55-yard touchdown strike on the sideline to make it 9-7 -Making game.
The Rangers stopped Everett in the red zone twice in the second quarter – once on downs and a second time on a fiddly snap restored by senior captain Alex Borelli.
Muniz (18 carries, 65 yards, TD) brought the Rangers to the top with a 1-yard touchdown run and Jason Silverio added the 2-point conversion to a well-designed game. The tide responded with Cam Mohammed charging for a 10-yard score, but Eason led the Rangers back across the field and hit Muniz for a 12-yard touchdown. Muniz added a 2 point rush to hit the 25-22 with just under 4 minutes to go.
“Playmakers make games when there are games to be played,” said Muniz, who is struggling with a hamstring injury. “Neither of us let go of the gas. Everyone doubted us, but we knew we could play with it [Everett]. If we play the way we do today, nobody can stop us. “
Everett had a few chances of developing a last-minute drive, but Muniz hit a clutch interception near midfield 3:08 behind and sealed the game with an intercept at Methuen’s 30-yard line.
“[Muniz is] something special when it includes things, ”Ryan said. “What a great year he had. These two interceptions will go down in Methuen High lore as some of the greatest plays in 30 years. “