PEABODY — Cody Wlasuk has been coming to Peabody vs. Salem football games since the time he learned to walk.
Last night as a senior captain, he left his mark on this 120-year old gridiron rivalry.
Wlasuk rushed for 208 yards and four touchdowns as the Tanners held off a furious Salem rally and won, 49-36, on a chilly night at Coley Lee Field. It was the highest scoring of the 98 meetings between the two squads in a series that began in 1892.
Peabody (3-4) honored their seniors before the game, and it was upperclassmen on its offensive line that made the difference. Joe Molica, Matt Crawford, Chirs Sierra and Brandon Rapoza teamed with underclassmen Ethan Mercedes and Mike Heafey to open holes to the tune of 346 yards rushing.
Wlasuk and junior Ryan Collins (11 carries, 137 yards, 2 TDs) were more than happy to read those blocks and run to daylight.
“We talked about this being our last time against Salem and one of our last times on this field. We wanted to leave it all out there,” said Wlasuk, who watched his father Scott coach a dozen games for Peabody against Salem and his older brother play against them a few years ago.
“Stepping out on that field in a big game and making big plays is what I’ve always dreamed about. Coach talks about dreams and believing it in. This was all I thought about all day.”
Wlasuk ran for 133 yards and three scores in the first half and the Tanners built a 35-14 lead early in the third quarter. But Salem (1-6) and their dynamic tailback, Aaron Palmer, were not going down quietly.
Palmer, who ran for a 58-yard score to give Salem a short-lived 6-0 lead, had touchdown runs of 20 and 14 yards in the second half. He also caught a 72-yard screen pass from senior quarterback Austin Connolly as the Witches fought to get back in the game.