The goal for Peabody football coach Mark Bettencourt and his Tanners coming into their Thanksgiving game against Saugus is simple. Peabody, 4-6 this season, won’t accept a loss to close a tough, injury-riddled 2018 campaign.
“The seniors want to end the season on a win,” Bettencourt said. “Our goal of finishing the season over. 500 or at .500 was lost. Finishing at 5-6 is the best we can do and we have to make sure we do that. Finishing 4-7 isn’t an option, that doesn’t speak for the work we’ve put in this year.”
Saugus, however, will have other plans. Bettencourt has studied the Sachems on film and knows they aren’t an easy opponent to beat.
“They’re tough kids,” Bettencourt said. “The story early in the season about what happened there and the way they’ve persevered with Coach Mike Mabee, he’s done a great job rallying these kids, motivating them and giving them something positive. When you inspire kids to overcome adversity you get good results. Watching the film, they had growing pains early in the year but they’re playing cleaner with every game. They’re coming here expecting to win.”
Peabody plans to control the line of scrimmage and establish an effective running game in hopes of creating opportunities through the air. That makes it a big game for Peabody’s offensive line, led by Abe Kaba, Chris Glass and Mike Lock, and running backs Luis Guridys and Angel Paulino.
“The biggest key is up front,” Bettencourt said. “We have to control the line of scrimmage. In the games we’ve won we’ve controlled the line of scrimmage. We’ve shown we can do it against teams a little bigger than us. We did it against Masco and Haverhill. If we can’t establish a running game, it affects our passing game.
“If we can control the trenches, it allows us to do a lot more with ball control and that allows us to control the passing game.”
Other key offensive contributors include quarterback Alex DeNisco and kicker Austin Leggett.
Defensively, Bettencourt pointed to sticking to assignments as Peabody’s key. He also foresees a tall task ahead for cornerbacks Dylan Peluso and Carlos Hernandez, who’ll be relied on to prevent big plays in Saugus’ passing game. Linebackers Tyler Norman and Kyle Maglione have played well as of late.
“Defensively, we have to read our keys and trust what the coaches are telling them to do,” Bettencourt said. “When we get away from reading our keys, we step into problems. The defense we run relies on 11 guys doing their jobs. What helps us is we’ve played some really good teams. Haverhill, Masco and Woburn were good teams. Beverly, Danvers, Marblehead, that’s going to help.
“We have to step up and make sure we play our best game on Thanksgiving morning or the turkey might not taste so well.”
Kickoff for Thanksgiving’s clash between Peabody and Saugus is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Coley Lee Field.