The quarterback, the tackle, and the linebacker met in the Grubbs Gallery on a bright winter afternoon for one final celebration of their Williston Northampton football careers.
The three postgraduates clapped each other on the back and hugged the friends and family who had filled the gallery in their honor. Then, one by one, they sat to sign National Letters of Intent to their respective schools, sending off National Signing Day 2015 in style.
The quarterback, John “Johnny” Aylward (Tewksbury, MA), committed to Saint Anselm College; the tackle, Alex Ganter (Lynnfield, MA), to University of Rhode Island; and the linebacker, John Kay (Hingham, MA), to University of Maine. All three football stars are headed to up-and-coming programs where they hope to have an impact.
“It’s been a great experience here,” Mr. Aylward said, adding that on the football team, the PGs “were all best friends and the other guys on the team welcomed us in.”
As the second-highest scoring team in Williston history, the 2014 varsity football squad averaged 42 points per game and used what Coach Mark Conroy described as an “explosive” up-tempo, no huddle spread offense. In November, the team advanced to the New England Prep School Athletic Conference championship bowl for the first time in over a decade.
But to get there—and have one of the most successful seasons in Williston history along the way—the teammates first had to overcome significant physical hurdles. Mr. Aylward was tackled early in the season, dislocating his elbow, while Mr. Ganter spent the first four games recovering from illness. Both finished the season with Second Team All-League honors.
“It was tough a first, but then my conditioning back,” Mr. Ganter said. “I’ve had an awesome experience.”
Not even Mr. Kay was immune to the wear and tear of the season. Mr. Kay, who would go on to be named Colonial League Player of the Year as a lineman, NEPSAC Class B Defensive Player of the Year, with All New England prep honors and First Team All Colonial League honors, spent the second half of the championship game playing with a busted hand and wrist after a vicious tackle.
“I got taped up and I went back out,” he said with a laugh.
All three cited the final game against Lawrence Academy, a championship nail-bitter that saw the Wildcats surging in the second half to fall by a single point, as one of the best and most memorable moments of the season.
“I love the team and I love playing under Coach Conroy,” Mr. Kay said. “He knows how to bring a team together…We had an outstanding fight and gave an outstanding effort.”
Read more about Alex Ganter
Read more about John Kay