SALEM — Never underestimate the importance of a non-conference matchup in the second week of the football season.
The early part of the football schedule for many teams is often brushed off as extended preseason, a time when teams play outside of their conferences and hope to improve enough before diving into a slate of league games.
Postseason berths are earned by capturing a conference title, but winning a league championship isn't a thought crossing the minds of Salem High players and coaches. The Witches are far more concerned with keeping momentum moving in the right direction, and the best way for them to do that is by beating Saugus tomorrow night at Bertram Field (7 p.m.).
Salem started its season in impressive fashion, shutting out Winthrop, 14-0. It was the Witches' first victory over the Vikings since 2002.
"These kids deserve it. I can't think of a group who have worked harder and want it more," Salem coach Scott Connolly said. "Winning breeds winning and success breeds success. The more you win, the more you develop the attitude that you can do it. If we get another win under our belt we'll have more confidence in what we're doing and more confidence in ourselves, and that would be huge."
Of course, beating Saugus, which plays in the Northeastern Conference Small, is easier said than done.
The Sachems, who run a triple option offense, pounded Bishop Fenwick in their opener, 41-20.
Saugus fullback Shamir Guillame had a huge day, rushing for 225 yards and four touchdowns on only eight carries. Steve Almquist also did damage, totaling 98 yards and a TD on just three carries. The Sachems didn't attempt a pass.
The triple option is difficult to defend because the quarterback sticks the ball in the fullback's chest then reads the defense to determine if he should give it or keep it. If the quarterback keeps it he can run it himself or pitch to a tailback.