In a season where the Saugus High School football team had not been able to contend closely with the opposition through the first four weeks, the Sachems put forth their most competitive effort against unbeaten Salem last Friday night at Christie Serino Jr. Stadium. In fact, winless Saugus could have emerged victorious had it been able to take advantage of numerous chances inside the red zone.
Unfortunately, the Sachems were stopped three times inside the 20-yard line (twice inside the 10) in the first half alone in an eventual 21-6 loss to the Witches. The defeat dropped Saugus to 0-5 on the season. On the other side, Salem improved to 5-0.
While the visitors scored two TDs and two extra points in the second quarter, the Sachems made some big first-half plays of their own on offense to set themselves up inside the Witches’ 20: a 47 yard completion from quarterback Cam Preston to Josh Osawe in the first quarter, a 35-yard run from Tommy DeSimone that brought the ball inside the 10 in quarter two, and another lengthy hookup between Preston and Osawe that set up the Sachems inside the five in the final two minutes of the second period.
On all three occasions, the Sachems failed to come away with any points. The first-quarter threat stalled, and both second-quarter drives were stopped on downs by the stingy Salem defense. It was a frustrating turn of events for Saugus, which went into halftime trailing 14-0 when it could have, realistically, led.
To their credit, the Sachems continued to battle in the second half and got within one score at 14-6 when Preston connected with Osawe on a 70-yard scoring play in the third quarter. The extra-point kick was blocked.
Salem pulled away again when running back Devante Ozuna (187 yards rushing) scored on a two-yard plunge in the fourth period. The extra point made it a 15-point advantage that the Witches would hold on to.
The Saugus offense, which had struggled immensely over the first four contests, gave easily its best performance to date. Preston threw for nearly 300 yards (281 to be exact) and connected on 11 of 27 pass attempts. He was intercepted three times.
Osawe proved to be a huge weapon by catching five passes for 173 yards. Isaiah Rodriguez hauled in four passes for 98 yards. DeSimone ran for 51 on 10 carries, and Osawe had a 17-yard gainer on the ground. Danny Shea, who set up one of Saugus’s second-quarter offensive threats with a defensive interception, finished with three receptions.
Overall, the Sachems played well enough defensively to win despite giving up over 300 yards of offense to the Witches. Linebackers Braden Faiella, Jaiden Smith and Ameen Taboubi each had a particularly strong game for the Sachems.
Still searching for their first win since 2020, the Sachems were scheduled to take on the 1-4 Gloucester Fishermen on October 13 (before press deadline). It would appear to be a good opportunity for Saugus to earn that long-awaited victory. The Sachems should enter the contest with more confidence after the encouraging effort against undefeated Salem.