BEVERLY — It’s one loss. Don’t fret, Garden City faithful.
There is absolutely, positively nothing to worry about.
So the 14-game winning streak, most of any public or parochial football team in Massachusetts, is over after Saturday afternoon’s 21-19 loss to Haverhill at Hurd Stadium in the season opener.
Sure, a win would have been terrific for the Panthers — especially against a Haverhill team that’s big in the trenches, has a workhorse running back in Ian Kessel and will, in all likelihood, win a lot more games than they lose in 2013.
But consider that the Orange-and-Black lost three fumbles, threw one interception, gave up two 15-yard penalties and, in general, made the kind of mistakes that a squad with new players working into the mix are going to make early on — and they still had a chance to win the game on the game’s final play.
That, to me, is a good sign.
“This will be a great teaching tool,” Beverly head coach Dan Bauer said, mere minutes after his team’s 45-yard field goal attempt with five seconds remaining was blocked by Haverhill. “The best kind of teaching tool.”
Consider: only four players who started for the Panthers during their 13-0 Super Bowl season of a year ago did so again Saturday afternoon: offensive guard/defensive end Zach Duguid, and linebackers Isaiah White, Sam Mulumba and Sean Winston. (White saw plenty of time in the Panther backfield last fall, but did not start).
There were eight seniors who, despite getting valuable playing time in 2012, were starting for the first time against Haverhill. So were juniors Jimmy Kastrinakis, who doubled at guard and weak side linebacker, and classmate Mike McKenna in the secondary; and a quartet of sophomores: tackle Chris Faust, defensive tackle Jake Berry and running backs Peter Mulumba and Matt Madden.