BEVERLY — The cynical football fan would say there is absolutely no reason to circle tomorrow night's Danvers High-Beverly High game on the calendar.
The game, which has already taken on a rare status because it will be illuminated by temporary lights at Beverly's Hurd Stadium (7 p.m.), is a matchup of teams that have combined for an 0-9 record.
Or, to put it indelicately as a cynic would, it's a meaningless game between a couple of lower tier teams.
So the cynical fan wouldn't have shown up at Beverly's half dirt/half grass practice field a couple of nights ago to watch the 0-5 Panthers put on a spirited workout that didn't end until it was virtually pitch black out. And he wouldn't have bothered to go to Danvers that same day, where the 0-4 Falcons were concentrating as hard as they have all season.
To the Beverly and Danvers players and the respective coaching staffs, this is a meaningful game — one they both feel is as significant as a meeting of unbeaten teams.
For one thing, it's the beginning of the Northeastern Conference Small segment of the schedule for each team, so somebody's going to be 1-0 in conference play late tomorrow night (weather permitting). Then there's the familiarity factor; these kids practically live on each other's doorsteps. That's more than enough to get the players' blood boiling.
"It's a clean slate and time for us to get untracked," said George Kallas, Beverly's 6-foot-2, 265-pound two-way lineman and captain. "You don't forget about those first five games, but it's motivation for conference play. It's another chance for us to get going and when you get to conference games like this, there's always a chance for postseason play. But we're looking at just this one game.