SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Sports

August 23, 2010

The Master From Maine

Perrone restored the pride to Salem to become one of the Witches' all-time greats

(Continued)

That is how it was for Salem football in those days; when the Witches played, the city came out in full support. Bertram Field was the place to be on Saturday afternoons in Salem during the Perrone Era.

"When he came to Salem they had been down for a long time, but had a storied football past," said Perrone assistant — and now Beverly High head baseball coach — Dave Wilbur. "Ken was great with the community and bringing everything and everyone together. He brought pride to that program and it hasn't been matched since."

Perrone understood the importance of community relations, and those who lived in Salem in those days remember seeing his high school players marching along side all of the youth players at the annual Heritage Day Parade or the various youth clinics put on by the coach, his assistants and players. Perrone was even a huge fan of the school band and got them involved as much as possible to be a part of the football program.

Every player wearing a Witches helmet, whether they were eight years old or 18, was important to Perrone. He linked the youth program with the high school program so that all the teams in Salem ran the same system. When you were growing up in Salem, from the time you saw your first Witches game you dreamed of playing for coach Perrone — and he dreamed of having you.

When the high school team started summer practices, the first hour would be a cycle of stations with all the youth players so Perrone and his assistants could critique everyone and give the younger kids a taste of what laid ahead. There was no need to tape your name to you helmet freshman year, because Perrone and his assistants knew every incoming player by name.

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