PEABODY — The Peabody High football team had a lot of energy in their first game under interim head coach Matt O’Brien last night.
The Tanners also showed that there are still going to be growing pains, as Revere rode its team speed and big plays to a 42-24 win at chilly Coley Lee Field.
Peabody fell to 0-6 for the first time since 2006, though the Tanners did score their most points and had their most rushing yards of the season. Revere (4-1) has now won four of its last five meetings with Peabody and showcased big play ability with all six of their TDs coming on plays of 20-yards or longer.
O’Brien took over the Tanners when Scott Wlasuk resigned on Tuesday. No one was quite sure what to expect from a winless team without its coach, and the Tanners responded with an inspired effort.
“You know a team that loses their coach is going to rise to the occasion, so we knew coming in that this would be a tougher game,” said Revere head coach Lou Cicatelli, now 5-3 against Peabody in 10 years as Patriots coach. “This was a tough week for me, personally, because I’m very close with Scott.”
Bobby Rose gave the Patriots the lead with a 30-yard touchdown run in the first. Peabody sophomore Nick Broughton recovered a fumble to set up junior Cody Wlasuk’s 4-yard TD as Peabody pulled within one at 7-6.
Rose returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards to put his team back in control. Led by a 38-yard scamper by Wlasuk, Peabody responded again by driving 76 yards on 10 plays capped by Ryan Collins’ 1-yard TD to make it 14-12.
“Its hard to show up when you’re losing, but these kids showed up. The guys were spirited all week and it showed,” said O’Brien.
The Patriots scored the next four TDs of the game to pull away. Portrait (91 yards rushing) juked his way to a 5-yard score and QB Joe Ritchie hit Kyle Gotham for 21-yards out to send Revere into halftime ahead 28-12. Portrait (24 yard run) and Ritchie (37 yard run) scored in the third quarter as Revere built a 42-12 advantage.
“Offensively we played pretty good,” said Cicatelli. “We let a couple of guys loose tonight and we showed a lot of speed. I’m very proud of my guys.”
The Tanners recovered three Revere fumbles but also fumbled it away twice, leading to Ritchie’s last score in the third quarter. Rose’s kick return when Peabody had momentum in the first hurt, too.
“We have to work on our special teams,” said O’Brien. “Turnovers and big plays hurt us. At halftime, we’d run twice as many plays as them but we gave up three long ones that killed us.”
Peabody sophomore Michael Raymond, the area’s leading receiver, moved to quarterback for the Tanners’ final two series. Throwing a beautiful deep spiral, he completed all five of his passes for 122 yards and two TDs, both to sophomore Tanner Moquin. Raymond connected with Collins for a 60-yard pick-up as well.
Peabody also had much more success on the ground than in recent weeks. Sophomore Billy Teehan ran for 71 yards on nine carries and Collins gained 40 on eight rushes, giving him 107 total yards. Wlasuk also picked up 43 yards on 14 carries and threw for 34 yards.
“Our job as coaches is to get these kids to have fun and I think you saw that tonight,” said O’Brien. “They were amped up all night and they made some plays.”
How difficult was it for the coaching staff to prepare for a game with all the upheaval in the middle of the week?
“Stuff like this doesn’t happen. But we didn’t want it to effect the kids. We made it manageable for them,” said O’Brien. “They want to be a part of something and we think we have a good thing going here. This is not where we want to be, but we’re setting the foundation.”