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August 26, 2013

Fantasy Matchups: Beverly's unbeaten '12 champs vs. Salem's '99 Super Bowl winners

One team could have essentially come onto the field, thrown their offensive playbook at the feet of their opponents and said, ‘Here’s what we’re going to run; try and stop us.’

Their arch rivals couldn’t have been a more polar opposite. Like the world’s greatest mathematicians trying to stump Will Hunting, they constantly kept you guessing, wondering, dreading what they’d run next.

The 1999 Salem High football team ran a power Stack-I offense and everyone knew it; aside from an occasional misdirection or trap, there wasn’t much mystery about what they’d be doing with the football. But no one could stop it and the Witches, behind their beefy line, a dominant running back and a defense who came up biggest when the stakes were highest, ran roughshod over their foes all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

The 2012 Beverly High football team would run any play out of any formation at any time. A Wing-T team that had zero problems switching over to a spread formation, the Panthers smashed school records on offense like a pinata at a child’s birthday party. Behind a technically proficient line, a stable of strong backs and a defense that also had a penchant for making big plays, they finished with the best record in school history en route to a second Super Bowl title in three seasons.

Two of the best teams, respectively, in these two storied programs that date back to the late 19th century.

But what if they faced each other? Who would ultimately prevail: the 1999 Witches or the 2012 Panthers?

“It’d be a great football game because it’d be two totally contrasting styles,” said Sean Gallagher, the man who probably knows this better than anyone else on the planet. He was 30 years old when he led Salem to its first Super Bowl during that magical ‘99 campaign; he’s now the principal at Beverly High School and watches every football game (often doing color commentary for radio) with keen interest. “There are definitely some things with our Salem team that Beverly would have trouble with, and there were certainly some things that Salem would have had trouble stopping Beverly on.

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