PEABODY — For head coach Mark Bettencourt and the Peabody Tanners, this offseason was all about implementing a new spread offense.
It took a series to get the ball rolling, but senior quarterback Matt Jandrisevits led the offense as Peabody cruised to a 36-7 win over Somerville Friday night at Coley Lee Field.
“The big question tonight was, ‘How were our kids going to show what they were forced to learn in a short period of time, both offensively and defensively?” Bettencourt said. “It was about how much we can retain and how much we can execute when the shooting starts and the crowd is here.”
Jandrisevits opened the scoring with a rushing touchdown before junior Angel Paulino and senior Luis Guridys each scampered into the end zone twice apiece, helping the Tanners break a streak of 3 consecutive season-opening losses.
Paulino set the tone for Peabody’s ground game on the 1st series, gaining back-to-back 1st downs on the first 2 plays from scrimmage. Jandrisevits had his 1st pass intercepted on the next play, but the Tanners returned the favor with a quick defensive stand.
Jandrisevits responded quickly on Peabody’s 2nd series. After Paulino moved the chains with an 11-yard run, the quarterback opted to keep the ball on 4 of the next 6 plays. He dashed into the end zone from 13 yards out for the game’s 1st points before sophomore Kyle Maglione successfully brought in the 2-point conversion, making the score 8-0 with 4:43 to play in the opening quarter.
“(Jandrisevits) has a whole new corps of receivers that he has to develop a relationship with, so he’s basically still learning this offense; he’s run the spread before, but not this type of spread,” Bettencourt said. “I thought he ran the ball extremely well today and showed that he’s a weapon for us with his arm and legs.”
Louis Jacques Montina and the Highlanders gained a pair of 1st downs when they took over, but the drive stalled at midfield and gave Peabody the ball back. Jandrisevits completed a pair of passes to junior Brandon Caniff during the ensuing possession, but Paulino took the handoff for the 3rd time in 5 plays and found the end zone. Maglione’s 2nd conversion doubled the lead to 16-0.
Caniff recovered a fumble on the first play of the visitors’ next series before Peabody rattled off a 10-play drive that ended with Paulino scoring on a 13-yard run with 3:08 left before halftime.
That was more than enough offense for the Tanners, but they carried all the momentum into the break after stopping the Highlanders a yard shy of the end zone after they ran a dozen-play drive that started from their own 35-yard line.
“We’re looking for anything to motivate these kids that they’re doing things right,” Bettencourt said. “It was perfect timing for what we needed at this time. Everyone’s learning. We made mistakes, but they’re mistakes that can be corrected. The more we can keep preparing it, the better we’re going to get.”
Jandrisevits busted off 2 double-digit-yard runs on Peabody’s 1st drive of the second half, but Guridys reached the end zone for the 1st time in the game with 5 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter as he drove down the sideline from 39 yards out. His two-yard run with 4:17 to play in the game made the score 36-0, but Somerville broke the shutout in the final 70 seconds as Fred Castin drove in from 2 yards out and Larsen Pierre hit an extra point.
Peabody visits Danvers Friday (7).