Robert "Bill" Broderick was a savior.
At least he was treated that way when he was pried away from Haverhill High School in 1923, convinced that he should come to Salem High as the new football coach to resurrect the school's program.
Broderick did his job, and then some. He made Salem football relevant and, even though he has been dead for nearly a half century, his place in Salem High School, North Shore and Massachusetts football history is secure.
The legendary light cast by Broderick with the Witches during the 1920s, '30s and into the '40s may be flickering more and more each year. But even though the great anecdotes may disappear one by one as the players he coached in the prime of his career continue to pass away, there is one thing that will forever withstand the test of time.
All 304 of them.
Having accumulating three straight unbeaten seasons at Haverhill High before joining the Witches, Broderick kept on winning in Salem. When he finally coached his final game for the Red-and-Black in 1949 (following a seven-year absence from the sidelines), he had won 162 games for the Witch City.
Only Brockton's Armond Columbo, who also coached at Archbishop Williams, has more career wins (316) in the Bay State than Broderick.
His place at the top of Salem's list seems pretty secure as well.
In total, Broderick amassed a record of 162-50-32 at Salem High (.733 winning percentage). By comparison, Ken Perrone went 151-64-7 in 22 years. Third on the list is Sean Gallagher, who finished with 41 victories and one Super Bowl title (1999) while coaching from 1995-2003.
Perrone never met Broderick. By the time he had taken over the Witches in 1973, Broderick stories were no longer floating through the locker room.
"What I did know is that he set the standard for Salem High School football," Perrone said. "He was a very successful coach, and we all tried to emulate what he did."