Those two hotly-contested Thanksgiving Day battles against Salem gave Hamor considerable credibility with Beverly fans. More importantly, Hamor firmly believed in what he was doing — and that belief trickled down to his staff and players.
The turnaround begins
The payoff for Beverly High would come throughout the 1980s — and it was a big one. Reflecting Hamor's hard-nosed, no nonsense approach, Beverly ran off a 76-23-2 record for the decade, which translates to a .762 winning percentage.
The Panthers' best years during that span were 1984 (9-1), 1985 (9-1) and 1988 (10-0). They won back-to-back Northeastern Conference titles in 1984-85 but, in those days, league champions didn't automatically advance to the state Super Bowl.
However, Beverly did get to play in the Division 2 Super Bowl in 1988, losing to Dracut, 23-6, on the artificial turf in Foxboro. To this day, it remains Beverly's lone Super Bowl appearance.
"They were good. They were always good when we played them," Ken Perrone, who coached Salem from 1973-94, said of Hamor's teams. "Billy didn't do anything fancy, but his teams did everything well.
"Beverly ran the ball a lot and you could know all of Beverly's plays going into a game, but the question was, could you stop them? Beverly always had great running backs, including at least one horse every season, and they executed extremely well. Those Thanksgiving Day games brought out the best in both teams."
Interestingly enough, Hamor felt that Beverly's turnaround began in a 9-7 loss to Lynn Classical in 1980. The previous year, the Classical Rams had crushed the Panthers, 40-14, but Beverly had a completely different mindset the following year. And the player who symbolized that mind set was Paul Boretti.
"That was an outstanding Lynn Classical team," Hamor said of the 1980 Rams, who would go to the Super Bowl with a 9-0 record. "Anyway, in our game against them, Boretti came up from his (defensive back) spot on one play and really stuck it to Stu Primus. Boretti was small, about 5-foot-6, while Primus was this big Division 1 college prospect (who went on to play basketball at Boston College and was drafted by the Indiana Pacers). Primus stayed down for quite a while.