By Mark E. Vogler
Quarterbacking the Saugus Sachems against the rival Peabody Tanners in their upcoming Thanksgiving Day showdown would have been a great way for senior Cam Preston to end his High School football playing days. But with Saugus High off to a promising 3-0 start, Preston, 17, suffered a season-ending knee injury that will keep him from playing alongside his senior classmates in their final game.
That didn’t stop Captain Cam from being a huge asset to his team. “The leadership part of this young man never left,” Saugus High Head Coach Steve Cummings told the audience at Prince Pizzeria on Wednesday night (Nov. 15).
“He was at practice working with our backup quarterback. He’s talked to the senior guys. He’s there every single day,” Cumming said. “I’ll be honest. I didn’t know how important this guy was to this football team until we didn’t have him. He’s going to be a big guy to try to replace. But the things he’s done for our program are immeasurable and I’m so incredibly proud to give the Saugus Lions Club Heisman Award to Cam Preston.”
Preston, wearing a leg brace and huge smile, walked up to his coach to accept the award during the 51st Annual Saugus and Peabody Lions Club’s Football Meeting and Dinner.
“We choose to recognize a senior in our program that has battled adversity throughout his career. This year is no different.,” Cummings said. This marks the 18th year that the Saugus Lions Club honors an inspirational senior with the award.
Preston’s name has also been engraved on the giant “Heisman Trophy” that returns to Saugus High School to be put on display to honor all past recipients.
In his introductory remarks, Coach Cummings recalled his first season as Saugus High coach when he would be greeted by an eighth grade football player after practice at the Belmonte Middle School. “This pudgy little quarterback that would come up to me every day and run over and say ‘Coach Cummings’ and shake my hand,” the coach said.
The young player made quite the impression on Cummings while exhibiting “that natural leadership ability.”
Preston eventually earned himself a starting role at quarterback in his junior year.
“I’m so incredibly proud of what this kid was able to do with our program,” Cummings said.
“With a lot of kids right now not knowing what they’re going to do, this young man is going to take the oath and join the military once his High School career is over. He is going to go over and defend our country,” he said.
“The thing that I’m not worried about at all is he’s a natural-born leader. I know he’s going to go over there and get guys better. He’s going to take all of the things he’s done here and take it to another level,” he said.
Preston said he wants to follow in the footsteps of both grandfathers, who served in the U.S. Army. He wants to be in the infantry. And after serving his country in the Armed Forces, he wants to come back to his hometown and become a firefighter.
“I feel honored to get this award,” Preston said of the award that caught him by surprise.
As far as the Thanksgiving Day game against Peabody next week, Preston said he has a lot of faith in the Sachem backup quarterback, Jordan Rodriguez, whom he has been mentoring since suffering a torn meniscus while at practice in a non-game, non-contact situation.
Preston said he will be on the sidelines, rooting his teammates on and doing whatever he can to help them beat Peabody. The Tanners go into the game 9-1 while Saugus has a 5-4 record.
“Roll Saugus! I want to thank Coach Cummings and everybody on the Saugus staff,” he said.
Coach Cummings said he has high expectations for Preston for being successful in the next phase of his life. “I got all the confidence in the world when this kid goes into the Army next year,” Coach Cummings said. “He won’t be a grunt. He’ll be a leader.”