BEVERLY — There was no wild celebration, overenthusiastic pig-piles or screaming and hollering when it was over. Head coach Dan Bauer wasn’t even doused with a traditional Gatorade shower.
If they were a little bit older, you’d call the way the young men on the Beverly High football team act after victories as workmanlike, even professional.
Bauer has another word for it: focused.
The Panthers completed the first 11-0 season in program history — which dates back to 1891 — by methodically knocking off their arch rivals from Salem, 28-14, yesterday before a crowd estimated at better than 7,500 fans at Hurd Stadium.
In the 114th playing of the contest known across the North Shore as ‘The Game’, Beverly did exactly what it needed to do: build up an early lead, got plenty of backups into the contest and emerged relatively injury-free to complete a magical regular season.
Now, they can turn their focus to Burlington High (10-1), whom they’ll face on the road in the Division 2A state playoffs Tuesday night (7:45 p.m.).
“It feels awesome,” said Beverly senior captain Kenny Pierce, who had 120 yards rushing on just five carries, including touchdown runs of 9 and 61 yards. “Salem always plays us tough; they might be the most talented team we played all season, and they gave us a real battle. But we were able to do what we came here for.”
“One of the big things for me is I like to have a purpose for the things I do,” added tight end Brendan McGee, “so to make history by finishing 11-0 and beating Salem on the seniors’ last game here at Hurd Stadium, that means the world to me. This team will always be remembered.”
The Beverly players were reminded early and often about what happened two years ago at Hurd, when its playoff-bound squad was upset by Salem on the holiday. Although the Panthers went on to win their first Super Bowl that season, they still had the sting of losing to their rivals from across the bridge.