Coming into 2013, the Tanners needed a program-wide reboot. Their freshman and junior varsity teams each went 6-4 this fall after combining for one win in 2012. Of 22 starting positions, 14 are occupied by underclassmen.
Bettencourt, the quarterback of Peabody’s 1990 Super Bowl championship team, filled his staff with former players like Dave Bettencourt, Bob Murphy, Matt O’Brien, Steve Lomasney and Jimmy Festa. They’ve been demanding of the players but they’ve also been patient, and most importantly have remained on the same page.
“The senior class, specifically, gets the credit. They’ve bought in from Day 1 and they’ve motivated the younger guys to do the same,” said Bettencourt. “I’m not an easy guy to play for. There’s yelling and it takes dedication, discipline and work ethic.”
In trying to rebuild Peabody’s program (which hasn’t had a winning season since Ed Nizwantowski was let go after 2004), Bettencourt turned back to an offense he estimates is 80 percent of Nizwantowski’s pro-set, power running system.
Sophomore Doug Santos has 737 rushing yards and eight TDs, while senior Cody Wlasuk has 424 and six scores and junior Ryan Collins has 483 and 7 scores. Junior QB Michael Raymond (1,080, 8 TDs) is the first Tanner signal caller with 1,000 passing yards since 1997. Tight ends Tanner Moquin and Andrew McLaughlin (the latter an all-star pitcher who came out for football for the first time as a senior) have been his main targets.
Peabody’s scored 209 points despite enduring a season-ending injury to O-line anchor Mike Heafey and having all three running backs healthy for just three games.
Defense has been another story. Two-way line fixture Ethan Mercedes (an All-NEC pick) has been a handful for opponents and Billy Teehan is nearing double-digit sacks. But the Tanners have given up 304 points while struggling with open-field tackling, big pass plays and getting off the field on key third and fourth downs.