Fundamental football comes down to running the ball and stopping the run. These days, there aren’t many North Shore football teams that are more fundamentally sound than Beverly and Masconomet, which makes tomorrow night’s clash at Walt Roberts Field easily the most enticing of the local non-league season thus far.
The unbeaten Panthers (5-0) have run it on everybody, to the tune of a 206-28 point differential. Captains Brendan Flaherty (421 yards rushing, 6 TDs) and Kenny Pierce (392 yards rushing, 7 TDs) have helped Beverly carve up its opponents over the season’s first five weeks.
“You have to tip your cap to what Beverly’s done so far and I’m sure they have bigger goals than being 5-0,” said veteran Masconomet head coach Jim Pugh. “They’re one of the top dogs right now and we’re looking forward to this challenge.”
The Chieftains, 4-1, are no slouch. They beat Division 1 Catholic Memorial and while they’ve played more close games than Beverly, that could be a strength in terms of tested mettle.
“We need the game to be a slugfest, and not a track meet,” said Pugh.
You don’t need to look any further than last season, when Masconomet topped Beverly 24-7 at Hurd Stadium, for evidence of the Chieftains’ strength. Masco’s defense held Beverly to 139 rushing yards and the Panthers averaged 268 on the ground in rest of their games.
Junior Mike Tivinis had a breakout game against Beverly last year with 140 yards rushing. He leads the Chieftains with 330 this year, and Beverly will need to bottle him up to reverse last year’s result.
“Masco is a well coached team and they execute. They’ve always played us tough,” said Beverly coach Dan Bauer. “They have two really good backs in Tivinis and Dylan Mann, so this should be a heck of a game.”