The Salem News
---- — Where: Stackpole Field, Saugus (10 a.m.)
All-time series: Peabody leads, 40-27
Keys to victory for Peabody: Run the ball and stop the run. The Tanners have been competitive in eight of their 10 contests, but have been hurt when they’ve allowed ballcarriers that their defense had penned in to escape for big gains and scores. If they don’t let the Sachem runners do that, they’ll be in good shape. When Peabody has the ball, they’ll want to methodically lean on Cody Wlasuk and Doug Santos to move the chains. It’s important that they finish those drive by putting points on the board rather than stalling in enemy territory, another thing that has hamstrung them at times.
Keys to victory for Saugus: Control the clock and the pace. The Sachems’ option rushing attack can shorten the game by chewing up first down after first down. That would limit Peabody’s possessions, offensively, and magnify the impact of any stops the Sachem defense comes up with. The Tanners have been prone to turning it over, at times, so if Saugus can snare a takeaway or two and protect the ball themselves, they’ll be on their way.
Intangibles: The Sachems are coming off one of their biggest wins in series history, a 43-0 drubbing of Peabody on the road at Coley Lee Field last year. Peabody’s older players remember it and would love to turn the tables tomorrow at Stackpole. Saugus is averaging an impressive 36.3 points per game over its last three outings (though they lost 2 of those). Peabody has already had the highest-scoring game ever in a long series this year against Salem, and the way each team has been playing on both sides of the ball indicates this one could be a shootout. The current series high for points in this series is 71, set in 1998.
The teams also have one common opponent: Winthrop. The Vikings dropped Saugus, 20-6, in Week 1 and Peabody beat them, 30-29, in Week 6.
Did You Know?: The Tanners have a 1,000-yard passer (Michael Raymond) for the first time since 1997. Going into the game, sophomore Doug Santos is Peabody’s leading rusher with 737 yards. The last time a 10th grader ran for at least 700 yards for Peabody? Salem News records don’t show one dating back more than 20 years.