, Salem, MA


November 27, 2012

Beverly, Burlington to slug it out on the ground in tonight's playoff football clash

Beverly, Burlington figure to slug it out on the ground in tonight's playoff football clash

They have combined for 106 total touchdowns this fall, both love to run the football and have a grand total of one loss between them.

In other words: irresistible force, meet immovable object.

Two squads with more than a few gridiron traits in common meet in tonight’s Division 2A playoff semifinals as unbeaten Beverly High (11-0) looks for its second Super Bowl appearance in the last three seasons when it takes on the once-beaten hosts from Burlington (7:45 p.m.).

“They’re solid all-around,” Sean Maguire, in his 20th year as the head coach at Burlington, said of Beverly. “They’ve got two very good running backs and their quarterback is a solid kid. And defensively, they haven’t given up points to anyone and they’re where they should be and tackle well. Plus, they cover the pass pretty well. There’s really no holes there.”

Dan Bauer, who will be looking for his 68th win on the Beverly sidelines tonight (in his 110th game as head coach), lobbed similar praise towards the 10-1 Red Devils, who won the Middlesex League’s highly competitive Freedom Division.

“They’ve got some size and defensively, they’re very strong,” said Bauer. “It’s a two-back team (offensively) and both are outstanding game breakers; you have to be solid across the board (defensively) against them. Also, their lines are aggressive and come off the play very physical at the point of attack. And scheme-wise, they won’t put themselves in a bad position.”

So is this, in theory, a little bit like facing mirror images of one another?

“I guess people could say that,” said Bauer.

Naturally, there are differences in the two clubs. Beverly — which won the Division 2A Super Bowl two seasons ago with several of this year’s seniors playing key roles on that team as sophomores — has made a living feasting on teams with its multi-faceted, ever-deceptive Wing-T offense, using a variety of backs and the occasional play-action pass to pile up pinball-like numbers on the scoreboard. With 409 points scored thus far, the Panthers are far and away the highest scoring team in school history. Defensively, their first team unit has allowed just six touchdowns all season.

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