“Certainly, they have a lot of weapons they can go to,” said Bauer. “They have two really good backs and Maag’s a winner, a real difference maker. He hurt us a lot in last year’s game. Plus, there are guys who can catch the ball and the line is very well coached.
“If you look at the season they’ve had, they’ve had some close games and almost always found a way to win. That’s a sign of good coaching. By and large everyone’s good to win a clump of games, but to get over the top the players have to buy in to what you’re saying. They’re obviously doing that, never giving up and playing right down to the last play to win some games.”
While Marblehead was an inexperienced squad coming into 2012, the same couldn’t be said for a veteran Beverly squad. Its marquee players have delivered while new varsity faces have stepped into key roles and contributed more than could have been expected, only adding to their overall team strength.
There hasn’t been a single game in which the Panthers — who are blessed with remarkable team speed in all areas — have needed their starters to play deep into the fourth quarter. When they’ve been replaced, there’s been virtually no drop-off from the backups or even third stringers.
The Panthers have rushed for 2,724 yards as a team (more than 1,000 yards better than Marblehead) and 35 TDs; their top three backs (Brendan Flaherty, Kenny Pierce and Isaiah White) all have more individual yardage than the Magicians’ top rusher, Maag.
Quarterback Dave Rollins, who missed four games with mono, has been quietly efficient (16 for 33, 294 yards, 5 TDs, no INTs) when it’s time to pass, with Brendan McGee (6 for 102, 2 TDs), Flaherty, White and Ryan Shipp among his favorite targets.