Five things you should know heading into tomorrow’s annual Beverly/Salem Thanksgiving clash:
1. It could be historic. Forget the fact that it’s the 114th meeting between the two schools, making it the grandaddy of all North Shore sporting events and one of the longest continuous rivalries in the country. A win by playoff-bound Beverly would give the school its first 11-0 season in school history.
2. Party crashers. Salem has only emerged victorious in two of the last seven Thanksgiving meetings, but those wins came in each of the last two games played at Hurd Stadium (2008 and 2010). There’s nothing the Witches would love more than to put a blemish on the Panthers’ clean season slate.
3. Spread the wealth. Beverly has so many weapons on both sides of the football that it’s near impossible for teams to try to slow down any specific player. Do you key on Brendan Flaherty, Dom Abate, Kenny Pierce, Isiah White or Dave Rollins out of the backfield? Who do you try to negate defensively? No team has figured out the answers to either question thus far, but the Witches will give it their best shot.
4. One and Dun(ston). Salem’s extremely athletic senior quarterback, captain Christian Dunston, is worth the price of admission himself. He’s an artist when it comes to escaping a heavy pass rush in the pocket and can fling the football 60 yards on the fly while also tucking it and running himself for big yardage.
5. Witches’ magic? While Beverly has a playoff game against Burlington in six days, this is the season finale for Salem. As the heavy underdogs in this one, why shouldn’t they let it all hang out? We’re talking trick plays, unorthodox formations or any other type of gridiron chicanery that could give them an advantage. What do they have to lose?