By Greg Phipps
Despite qualifying for the Div. 5 North playoffs with just two wins, the Saugus Sachems showed they belonged in the tournament by bowling over third-seeded Weston, 27-6, last Friday night at Weston High School.
It was the first postseason victory for Saugus football in several decades, according to head coach Mike Mabee.
All season, Saugus has been an unpredictable squad, suffering one-sided defeats at the hands of Gloucester and Swampscott and then giving solid teams like Amesbury and Lynn English all they can handle before falling short. Against Weston, the latter scenario played out, only this time it resulted in a victory for the sixth-seeded Sachems. And a convincing one at that. Weston had lost just once coming into the tournament.
“I’m just so happy for this team. They’ve faced a lot of adversity this year,” Mabee told the press after the game. “This is a great feeling – to come out here and win our first playoff since maybe the ’50s, I believe. It’s just a great feeling.”
Saugus has had to deal with external turmoil from the get-go this season, having seen their popular head coach from last season, Anthony Nalen, suspended a week before the regular season and eventually not reinstated. Members of Nalen’s coaching staff went with him.
Against Weston, the Sachems’ offense rode the back of RB Marvens Jean, who was a one-man wrecking crew, rushing for 266 yards on 17 carries (nearly 16 yards per attempt) and scoring twice. One of Jean’s TDs came on a 55-yard romp that got Saugus going in the right direction with a 6-0 early lead.
Mabee said Jean is a perennial hard worker who knows how to hit the holes. The coach also credited the offensive line for its work in creating those holes. He also cited the defense, which didn’t allow a score. Weston’s lone TD came on a long kickoff return.
James Moise (interception) and Jake Morgante (fumble recovery) forced key turnovers that stalled Weston drives in the first half and allowed Saugus to take a 20-0 lead into the intermission. Dante Mcgrane scored on a five-yard run, and Moise took one in from two yards away to account for the three-touchdown advantage entering the second half.
Mcgrane and Morgante were the two leaders on the defensive side. “They play a huge part in leading our defense, for sure. I think our defense was a little bit underrated coming into the game,” said Mabee. “A lot of teams have scored some points on us, but I look at it as one of our strengths. All our guys get to the football, they play hard, tackle well and follow the scheme.”
Saugus improved to 3-5 with the win and advanced to face the second-seeded Amesbury Indians, who the Sachems competed well against in the season-opener back in early September. The contest is set for this Friday night (7 p.m. kickoff) at Amesbury.