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Football Sachems lose big in annual Thanksgiving clash

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  Entering last Thursday’s annual Thanksgiving Day high school football battle with longtime foe Peabody, the Saugus Sachems needed to muster a Herculean performance in order to pull off an upset victory over the heavily favored Tanners. That notion was snuffed out quickly and efficiently as visiting Peabody scored 34 first-half points on its way to a 48-6 rout at Christie Serino Jr. Stadium.

  It was the first-ever Thanksgiving game played at Saugus’s new stadium but it wasn’t a contest that will go down as a particularly memorable one, at least not in the eyes of the Saugus faithful.  The loss left the Sachems with a final record of 1-10 for the 2022 season.

  The Sachems were coming off a close win over Whittier Tech – the team’s first victory in nearly two seasons – 14 days earlier. They also showed promise offensively in the second half of the year by averaging over 20 points a game during the previous five contests.  But any hopes of a momentum carry over were put to rest when Peabody’s star quarterback Shea Lynch connected on four touchdown passes in helping the Tanners build a commanding 34-0 lead by halftime.

  Saugus’s offense struggled against Peabody’s defense and managed just 96 total yards of offense (only six of those on the ground). Quarterback Cam Preston (11-for-25 passing for 90 yards and an interception) threw a scoring pass to one of his favorite targets, Isaiah Rodriguez, to avoid the shutout late in the game. Josh Osawe caught three passes for 45 yards, Rodriguez had two catches for 28 yards, and Tommy DeSimone finished with six receptions.

  Lynch nearly reached 300 yards through the air for Peabody while Danny Barrett tossed a 69-yard TD on a halfback option play to help lead the Tanners, who finished 10-1 (their best season in years) and were ranked among the top-20 teams in Eastern Mass.  Peabody’s lone defeat was to Bishop Feehan in the first round of the Div. 2 playoff tournament.

  With the victory, Peabody now has a 48-28 all-time lead and has won the last eight meetings in the Thanksgiving Day series. Saugus last triumphed in 2013.

  For head coach Steve Cummings and the Sachems, the 2022 campaign proved to be a battle of attrition. The team was down to just 30 players in uniform for this year’s Turkey Day game.

  The immediate future does hold promise. Preston, who steadily improved as the season progressed, Rodriguez, Osawe, DeSimone, linebacker/guard Braden Faiella, and linebacker/receiver Ameen Taboubi are juniors and will return next fall.

  With nearly half of this year’s squad being sophomores and freshmen, the Sachems were a young team and a year of varsity experience could provide a solid building block moving forward. Key seniors departing are defensive back Mike Splaine, linebacker Justin Belluscio, co-captain lineman Justin DaSilva, linebacker/guard Jaiden Smith, and linemen Brenton Sullivan and DeVaughn Wheeler.

Sachems Co-Capt. Tommy DeSimone enters the field at the Saugus Middle/High School Complex one last time on Thanksgiving Day.
Sachem Co-Captain Braden Faiella wishes Peabody senior Mike Mastrocola best wishes with his battle with leukemia.
Saugus High junior Ethan Malcolm holds back a Peabody defender.
Sachem Co-Captain Cam Preston looks for a receiver downfield.

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