FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- On April 28, 2010, the world lost a shining star in Tyler W. Ryan.
The loss was felt throughout Concord-Carlisle Regional High community as well as the football team, where Ryan wore No. 5 and played for the Patriots.
Since his passing, the No. 5 jersey had not been worn until Saturday morning when C-C running and defensive back George Craan slipped it on. The Patriots’ ran to a 42-9 victory, capturing the MIAA Division 3 Eastern Mass. Super Bowl.
For the next year, the jersey will be showcased at the Hall at Patriot Place, where Ryan's number will be displayed along with championship teams from across New England.
Margaret (Marty) Ryan, Tyler’s mother, was at the game wearing her own replica No. 5 C-C jersey. She felt a flood of emotions after the game, but they were all good.
“I am elated, I am touched, I am happy for the guys," Mrs. Ryan said. "I am happy for my son who I felt was out there today."
The tribute by Craan was all Craan’s doing -- albeit, it was partially by mistake.
While preparing for Tuesday’s playoff game, Craan could not find his jersey. Concord-Carlisle athletic director Barry Haley put it plain and simple to Craan: "If you don’t find the jersey, you can’t play."
"You should have seen the look on his face,” joked Haley, who was amused at Craan’s mimed response.
There was some discussion about what jersey Craan would wear in the place of his own jersey, No. 15, and the No. 5 jersey was the closest match they had that a running back could wear. Craan discussed the potential of sporting Ryan’s number with Mrs. Ryan and shortly thereafter, the matter was settled.
Craan would pay homage to his former teammate at Gillette in the Super Bowl by playing in the jersey.
“I'm feeling really proud, I know he’s looking down on us today,” said Craan, donning the jersey after the game with “5” written over the tape on his right wrist and “R.I.P TyRy” across the tape on the left wrist. “We wanted this ever since freshman year and all of us have been together. We talked about it. Our motto is conceive, believe achieve… hard work pays off.”
“Tyler was a great kid,” C-C head coach Mike Robichaud said. “It’s a wonderful tribute and made it extra special that we could actually pull it off with a win today. It says a lot about George, a lot about Tyler. The kids love him so much and honor his memory.
For Robichaud, the victory was bittersweet as well.
In October of 2007, Coach Robichaud lost his mother, Mrs. Carol Marie Robichaud, and said that she was on his mind during the game and after.
“We know that that she’s looking down and she is really happy for all of us,” Robichaud said.
Joining him in his post game interview were his son, Will, who is also the team’s water boy, and his dad, legendary C-C coach Al Robichaud. Although he will always be called coach, the elder Robichaud wore his varsity jacket and held a camera taking pictures of his son, the same as every other proud parent in the crowd.
“He’s the greatest,” said Al of his son in response to Mike sharing the same sentiment for his father. “He means everything to me, he’s my role model. I’m so proud to be in the profession that he was in for so many years, to try to follow in his footsteps, it’s an honor to be doing this today.”
Keeping the legacy of her son alive, Mrs. Ryan relayed what Tyler would say were he on the concourse at Gillette Stadium about his former team's victory:
“It’s wonderful, it’s a game, but the most important thing in life is kindness to everybody else.”