“What we’ve found is teaching kids to block has been easier than teaching kids to tackle,” said Bettencourt. “It’s been a glaring weakness, and that’s the biggest thing we have to fix from Year 1 to Year 2. Offensively, things have clicked and we feel like we’ve gotten a lot done.”
Peabody went 3-4 in the ‘regular season’ before losing all three of its Division 1 North consolation matches against teams from the Merrimack Valley Conference. They’ve played seven games decided by fewer than two scores.
“I love that we’re in these games, that we’re close, but at the same time I hate the close ones because it’s nervous,” said Rapoza, a two-way lineman who was third in the NEC in the 220-pound wrestling class last winter.
Host Saugus is 2-8 overall, though they’ve scored 109 points in their last three games. The Sachems have won three of the last five meetings against Peabody, including last year’s sobering 43-0 win over the Tanners.
“We want to show them what Peabody football really is. Last year wasn’t it,” Rapoza said. “To do that, we have to put everything on the line every play. We have to treat it like it’s the hardest game we’ve played all year.”
Considering all the team’s seniors have endured over the last 12 months, one more game feels like a gift. Since last November, they’ve been thinking about Route 1 bragging rights and just how great earning them might feel.
“It would be one of the greatest moments ever. We wanted to win the last three games, too, but I’ve been thinking about Saugus for a while,” said Rapoza. “We have to finish with a win.”
PEABODY STARTING LINEUP OFFENSE No. Name Yr. Pos. 22 Tanner Moquin Jr. TE 69 Marcus Vierra Jr. T 55 Matt Crawford Sr. G 64 Brandon Rapoza Sr. C 54 Joe Molica Sr. G 53 Ethan Mercedes Jr. T 17 Andrew McLaughlin Jr. TE 4 Michael Raymond Jr. QB 2 Billy Teehan Jr. FB 5 Cody Wlasuk Sr. TB 32 Doug Santos So. RB DEFENSE 70 Chris Sierra Sr. DT 79 Emilio Cantone Jr. NG 53 Ethan Mercedes Jr. DT 2 Billy Teehan Jr. LB 5 Cody Wlasuk Sr. LB 32 Doug Santos So. LB 20 Frank Falco So. LB 21 Michael James Sr. CB 3 Ryan Collins Jr. S 23 Cam Cordero So. S 4 Michael Raymond Sr. CB SPECIALISTS 15 Patrick Touhy Jr. K 17 Andrew McLaughlin Sr. P