In many respects, the Saugus Sachems are coming into this year’s Thanksgiving football game against the rival Peabody Tanners with nothing to lose. Saugus has yet to taste victory this fall, and the Turkey Day matchup with the Tanners is the team’s last chance to notch a win. It will take a major effort by the 0-10 Sachems to pull off an upset of the 6-4 Tanners, who have won the last six Thanksgiving meetings and shut out Saugus when the two teams faced each other during last spring’s abbreviated campaign. The Sachems last emerged victorious against Peabody in 2013.
This season, the team has struggled mightily to put points on the board. Saugus has tallied just 45 points total (finishing in double-digits just once) and has been shut out four times.
Still, the offense has shown flashes of potential. Quarterback Sean O’Rourke has faced a barrage of pressure from opposing defenses all year but has connected on some big pass plays, mostly to senior receiver Drew Gardiner. In the loss to East Boston last week, Ryan Mabee got into the act with a nice 64-yard TD reception. The running game has had difficulty being consistent, but senior Mark MacEachern and more recently Tommy Desimone have produced some solid gains.
In all, though, it hasn’t been enough to get Saugus into the win category. The Sachems have come excruciatingly close to triumphs twice this year. A last-second, 15-14 defeat at Greater Lawrence Tech back on Nov. 4 was a major heartbreaker. The Sachems led 14-7 before Greater Lawrence scored on the final play of the game and won it with a two-point conversion. A 12-6 defeat at Salem on Oct. 7 was almost as agonizing, as the Sachems held a 6-0 advantage through three and a half periods before Salem scored twice in the final three minutes to swipe the victory. What made it even more painful is that the Sachems appeared to be driving for the go-ahead score when Salem intercepted an O’Rourke pass and returned it 90 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
Head Coach Steve Cummings will be completing his second full season as Sachems Head Coach. The team went 3-8 in 2019 and 2-5 in last spring’s shortened season. He would like nothing better than to see his team, the senior players in particular, go out on a high note.
He has said that this obviously hasn’t been the kind of year they wanted for the seniors. But he added that any future success will be attributed to how this year’s senior corps handled the adversity and carried themselves, and the example this has set for the younger players.
Peabody comes into the Thanksgiving clash on a roll, having won five in a row after losing four straight. Against common opponents, the Tanners defeated Winthrop, Gloucester and Salem fairly handily, while the Sachems suffered defeats to all three (though Salem could have been a victory). Peabody also gave Div. 5 powerhouse Swampscott a battle before succumbing 28-21. The Sachems lost by a 41-6 count at home to the Big Blue.
The Thanksgiving clash is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Peabody’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.