PEABODY — With three minutes left in the most tumultuous football season in recent memory, Peabody High interim head coach Matt O’Brien called a timeout and had his nine seniors walk off Coley Lee Field together.
It was a tender moment in a season that had far too few of them.
Visiting Saugus was in complete command of a 43-0 win over the Tanners on Thanksgiving morning in front of about 2,000 fans.
Peabody (0-10) finished the season winless for the first time since 1958, allowed the most points in school history and never held the lead on any opponent in any game.
The Tanners, try as they might, couldn’t find their footing on either side of the ball.
“They deserved that. They worked hard for four years and they deserved to come off that field together,” said O’Brien, who was tapped as interim coach when Scott Wlasuk resigned after five games.
Saugus (6-5) had 419 total yards, including senior Nick Benoit’s 122-yard, 2-touchdown effort that pushed him over 1,100 rushing yards on the season. The Sachems enjoyed their biggest victory in the holiday series since 1966, beating Peabody for the third time in five years.
“It’s a great way for our seniors to go out,” said Saugus head coach Mike Broderick. “They took their lumps when they were young, and they had a tremendous season (this fall).”
Benoit opened the scoring yesterday with a 39-yard touchdown run on Saugus’ first possession. He scored from 7 yards out later in the first quarter, with conversions by Justin Barrasso and C.J. Randolph making it 16-0.
The Tanners were hanging around, down by just two scores, and held the ball for 8:55 aided by two Michael Raymond fourth down conversions. Pat Tuoy’s punt was downed by senior Angelo Beado at the Saugus 1-yard line, but six plays later Randolph hit Ryan Henehan for a 79-yard TD with 1:00 left in the half and it was 22-0.