The Beverly High football team is so confident in its ability and so focused on preparation that something as simple as a difference in playing style is not going to derail them.
The Panthers beat a run-heavy Burlington team on Tuesday in the Division 2A semifinals, and the reward was a Super Bowl matchup with a Natick team that prefers to sling the ball all over the gridiron.
Beverly defensive backs Dom Abate, Ryan Shipp, Kenny Pierce, and Brendan Flaherty will be asked to make a lot of plays against Natick this afternoon (3:30 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro as the Panthers try to make it two Super Bowl titles in three years.
The Flutie name — particularly former Boston College, Canadian Football League, and National Football League great Doug — put Natick High football on the map many years ago, and another Flutie is attempting to take the Redhawks to great heights this season. Doug’s nephew, Troy, is the trigger man for Natick this season, and the junior is a major concern for the Beverly defense.
“He’s outstanding. He will be the best quarterback we face all year,” Beverly coach Dan Bauer said. “He has great poise in the pocket, but scrambles and seems to find receivers downfield. He runs the offense with great efficiency.”
Flutie has been one of the most dangerous offensive players in Massachusetts this season, having thrown for 33 touchdowns and rushed for another 14.
“I don’t think we’ve seen a quarterback this good in a while,” Beverly senior defensive end Mike Dooling said. “But we’re very confident in our defensive backs. They’ve all played great his year and they’re up for it.”
Flutie has some excellent receivers, including juniors Alex Hilger, Andrew Boynton, and Justin Robinson. Flutie’s favorite target, however, is sophomore Brian Dunlap, who has hauled in 19 touchdown passes this fall.