SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

November 30, 2012

Beverly's Best

Flaherty hopes to end his career with second Super Bowl crown tomorrow

(Continued)

The 17-year-old Flaherty is the school’s all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (39), total touchdowns (59) and points (368). He is the only player in Beverly High’s long and storied history to run for a touchdown, throw a touchdown pass, catch a touchdown pass, return an interception for a touchdown, return a kickoff for a touchdown and return a punt for a touchdown — and he’s done it all in the same season this fall.

In a city where dominant running backs have been the program’s hallmark for virtually all of its existence, Flaherty might be the very best to ever put a Panther helmet on.

The little things

Technically listed as a fullback because of his size, he is that rare combination of player who can effectively beat up defenders between the tackles on belly and trap plays while also getting to the outside on tosses and jet sweeps with his terrific breakway speed. His penchant for breaking tackles, keeping his feet moving and anticipating the time and space he’ll have to make a particular move or cut is uncanny.

“If you’re an offensive lineman,” said fellow captain Marc Babcock, “then Brendan’s the kind of kid that you want to block for. He’s a great athlete but an even better person.”

With a team-high 1,321 on the ground this season, Flaherty will take a career total of 3,328 rushing yards on 303 carries into tomorrow’s tilt with 11-1 Natick. No player who has ever donned the Orange-and-Black comes close to his 11 yards per attempt while running the football.

“He’s exactly the kind of student-athlete we want at Beverly High,” said principal Sean Gallagher, a former star player and coach at his alma mater, Salem High. “He’s a perfect gentleman off the field — and an animal on it.”

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