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Saugus High Sachems Football Preview: Fifth year football head coach expects results in new season

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By Don Nicastro

 

Steve Cummings is not sugarcoating anything in Year 5 of his campaign as Saugus High School football head coach. They’ve won five games over his first three seasons (no season in 2020), and they want more.

“We’ve been building for the past couple of years,” Cummings said. “Now it’s time to show some results. This is the team to do it.”

The 2023 Saugus football season is about to launch. The Sachems open up at home against Chelsea in a non-league matchup Friday, Sept. 8 (6:30 p.m.).

Saugus has been building positive momentum since it opened up things in the preseason on Aug. 18. It played well in a scrimmage against Newburyport and before that finished among the top four teams in a seven-on-seven passing tournament that featured around 40 teams. And the offseason included a lot of commitment.

“We had a great turnout for our summer workouts,” Cummings said. “It’s really showing during camp so far.”

Coach Cummings’ words echo the spirit of the Saugus High School football team as it prepares for a season that promises challenges and opportunities in equal measure. As the Sachems gear up for the upcoming season, the focus is clear: dedication, hard work and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

However, it won’t be easy, and the Sachems know it. With a mix of seasoned players and young talent, the team is poised to face a league – the Northeastern Conference Lynch Division, which includes Salem, Winthrop, Gloucester and Peabody – that offers no easy games.

The good news? The team’s participation jumped about 33% year over year. They had about 30 last year and saw that bump to 40. This not only enhances the quality of practices but also fosters healthy competition for starting positions, according to Cummings.

The team’s hard work is evident in their performance in the scrimmage against Newburyport, a known playoff team.

Cam Preston, one of five captains, is a senior who will lead the way at quarterback this season for the second straight time. That’s the first time Cummings at Saugus has had a consistent, returning starting quarterback.

“He was our guy quarterback last year, and he had a good year and had a great offseason,” Cummings said. “In that 7-on-7, you’re throwing the ball every play. I think he threw three picks in six games and was making really smart decisions with the ball and trusting his receivers and putting guys in position to be successful. He was finding guys with open space and making good reads, just all the things that you want to see a kid mature with.”

Isaiah Rodriguez, a senior wide receiver and returning All-Leaguer, is another captain, alongside Danny Shea, a junior captain and safety, Tommy Desimone, a senior tailback and safety, and Braden Faiella, a center and middle linebacker. Ethan Malcolm is an experienced lineman alongside Faiella, and the rest of the line will be worked out over the remaining two weeks of the preseason. Faiella is getting attention on a national level thanks to his play. Ameen Taboubi is a senior wide receiver and safety who could make some noise. Coach Cummings expects big things out of all those players.

The league presents its own set of challenges as usual. Teams like Salem, Gloucester and Winthrop have their unique strengths. Salem has seen a remarkable turnaround under Coach Matt Bouchard; Gloucester is blending old-school techniques with new strategies; and Winthrop is known for its discipline and commitment to its game strategy. Peabody, with its large roster and tough non-league schedule, remains a formidable opponent that won the league.

The ultimate goal for the Sachems is clear: to face Peabody on Thanksgiving with the league title on the line. It’s not just about playing the game; it’s about making a mark and hanging a banner of victory.

“There are no easy outs,” Cummings said. “… The league is not going to get any easier. It’s on us to up our game so we can go be competitive and win games. I told our guys our goal this year is to go to Peabody on Thanksgiving with the league title on the line. That’s our goal. You know, that’s what we have to have. Nothing else. We want to be able to go to Thanksgiving with the opportunity to hang a banner on the line; that’s what we’re hanging our hat on. That’s what we’re going for.”

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