By Dan Harrison
---- — SALEM — Through three games this season, the Salem High football team has figured out how to hit the big play. Now the Witches need to learn from last night’s opponent, Lynn Classical, and find a way to sustain long and demoralizing offensive drives.
The host Rams routed Salem, 41-14, at the Manning Bowl, scoring on their first six drives of the game and running over three times as many offensive plays as the Witches.
Lynn Classical (1-2) had four drives go over 10 plays, including its final drive that spanned nine minutes and was the only drive not to end in a Rams touchdown. The Rams outgained Salem, 387 yards to 110, and ran 64 plays to Salem’s 21.
“We knew what they were going to run: they run the power game and did a great job blocking,” said Salem (0-3) head coach Scott Connolly. “They were tough to stop and crushed us in time of possession. When you (allow) that, it’s tough to win a high school football game.”
Salem actually had a perfect start to the evening when senior Anferne Jimenez took the opening kickoff 79 yards to the house. The Witches’ kick return team opened up a massive hole right up the middle of the field and Jimenez juked the Classical kicker perfectly for a quick lead.
Classical responded with a 10-play drive, capped off by a 7-yard touchdown run by Justin Avery (14 rushes, 75 yards). Devin Crayton (12 rushes, 89 yards) added a 5-yard touchdown run on the Rams’ next drive before signal caller Jordan Brown and running back Brad Scuzzarella (20 rushes, 145 yards) each added 7-yard touchdown runs before the end of the first half.
Scuzzarella would punch in a 6-yard TD run on the Rams’ first drive of the second half before Avery took a screen pass 29 yards for a score.
Salem didn’t allow a play of 30 yards or more, but the hosts got decent chunks of yardage in bunches and gassed the Witches’ defensive unit.
“You can’t just key on one guy,” Connolly said of the Lynn Classical offense. “We played well defensively at times, and we let down at times. We need to put a full 44 minutes together.”
Aaron Palmer gave Salem life on its second drive when he took his first handoff of the night, got to the sideline and burned everyone on the field for a 75-yard TD scamper. Outside of that play, however, the Witches had minus-8 yards of offense on 11 plays in the first half.
“We need to do a better job of sustaining drives and moving the chains,” noted Connolly. “We have to win the field position battles and we have to win time of possession — and we didn’t do (either) tonight.”
The one big positive for Salem was that it had zero penalties. Through three games, they have had just four flags thrown against them.