Any one of five Beverly backs — captains Brendan Flaherty (20 TDs, 124 points), Kenny Pierce and Dom Abate, as well as senior Luke McDonald and junior Isiah White — are capable of carrying the rock for big distances when called upon.
Burlington is more of a multi-dimensional team on offense; “we’ll run anything out of any formation,” said Maguire. The Red Devils rely heavily on their two star running backs: Marcus Odiah, the program’s all-time single season and career rushing leader with better than 1,700 and 4,000 yards, respectively. He also has 21 touchdowns and 130 points in 2012 — that’s surpassed only by his backfield mate, Anthony Cruz, and his 22 TDs and 138 points, to go along with 1,300-plus yards on the ground.
Together, Odiah and Cruz have all but nine of Burlington’s 52 touchdowns this season. Conversely, Beverly has watched 10 of its players score at least one of its 54 touchdowns. The Panthers have a team total of 3,407 rushing yards; the Red Devils come in with just a few dozen more.
“I coached at Melrose for two years when Sean was the head coach in Burlington, and they were physical, hard-nosed and well-coached. I’m guessing not much has changed,” said Bauer.
Quarterback Shane Farley returned from an injury three games ago and has played well, diversifying Burlington’s offense. Two other game-changers for the hosts tonight could be Mark Woods, a big, physical two-way lineman and Jirair Manoukian, a tight end/defensive end who can be a menace on both sides of the ball.
Beverly counters with senior captain Dave Rollins, who also missed time this season (mono) but has been quietly efficient with seven touchdown passes and just one interception. On the line, Mike Dooling, Zack Duguid, Kevin Kennedy, Brian Perry, Brendan McGee and captain Marc Babcock have compensated against bigger opponents in the trenches all season with their speed, athleticism and getting leverage on their blocks.