As the Panthers celebrated on their home turf after the game, normally reserved head coach Dan Bauer ran smack into the middle of the scrum, a huge smile adorning his face as he was engulfed by his joyful players.
“You gotta have fun once in a while,” said Bauer, who won his second league title in three seasons, said with a laugh afterwards.
For the second time since the school began fielding a football team in 1891, Beverly High sports a perfect 10-0 record. They can become the first BHS edition to go 11-0 with a win at home Thanksgiving morning against Salem (4-6).
“Beverly’s the strongest team in the league. I don’t care what their size is; they’re the strongest,” classy Marblehead head coach Jim Rudloff told reporters after the game. “You can’t play with them for four quarters; it’s impossible. Maybe Burlington (whom the Panthers will face in a Division 2A playoff semifinal the Tuesday after Thanksgiving) or (potential Super Bowl opponents) Walpole or Natick can, but good luck to them.”
Marblehead came out with a simple game plan: control the football and keep it out of Beverly’s hands on offense. It worked brilliantly for a half as the Magicians held the football for 14:09 of the game’s first 22 minutes and slowed the pace down considerably. As a result, the teams were deadlocked at intermission after Rollins’ 24-yard touchdown pass to captain Dom Abate early in the second quarter was matched on the very next offensive series by Marblehead, as quarterback Ian Maag drilled a 26-yard scoring strike to Dylan Cressy on 4th-and-5.
“At first, they came out and punched us in the mouth,” said senior lineman Brian Perry, better known as ‘Mustachio’ for the long, flowing mustache he’s grown this season. “They had a great game plan. But once we figured out what we had to do, we were able to change things.”