By Greg Phipps
Sporting a new offensive approach and displaying their characteristic stingy defense, the Peabody Tanners had very little trouble taking it to the Somerville Highlanders, 36-7, last Friday night at Peabody’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
It was the opener for both teams and became Peabody’s first season-opening triumph since 2011. And the win was a convincing one at that. After being intercepted on their first possession, the Tanners went on to dominate offensively, scoring three first-half touchdowns and building a 22-0 lead at the break.
Using a new spread offense led by senior quarterback Matt Jandrisevits, who transferred from Malden Catholic, Peabody amassed over 300 yards on the ground against the Somerville D, which looked overwhelmed against the Peabody offensive line.
Jandrisevits had 98 of those yards on 11 carries. He produced the first score of the game from 13 yards away with just under five minutes left in the first quarter. A two-point conversion run by Kyle Maglione made it 8-0, and the Tanners were basically on their way.
“The big question for us tonight was, ‘How were our kids going to perform what they were forced to learn in a short period of time, offensively and defensively,’” said Peabody head coach Mark Bettencourt after the game. “It was about how much we can retain and how much we can execute when the game starts, the lights go on and the crowd is here.”
The Tanners clearly executed well enough to pass the test. Junior RB Angel Paulino rushed for 121 yards on 10 attempts and had TD runs of five and 18 yards. Fellow RB Luis Guridys rolled for 52 yards on the ground, scoring on a two-yard run and hauling in a 39-yard scoring pass from Jandrisevits, who completed seven of 12 passes for 97 yards through the air. Kicker Austin Leggett made good on two of three extra-point attempts.
Guridys caught two passes for 52 yards, including his touchdown, and Declan Russell pulled in an 18-yard reception for the Peabody offense.
With the new system of offense and some new additions, particularly at quarterback, Bettencourt said, there’s still a learning curve involved as Peabody prepares for two of its toughest games of the season: at Danvers this Friday night and at Marblehead on Sept. 21.
“Matt [Jandrisevits] has a whole new corps of receivers that he has to develop a relationship with, so he’s still learning the offense. He’s run the spread before but not this type of spread,” Bettencourt explained. “I thought he ran the ball extremely well tonight and showed he’s a weapon with his arm and legs.”
On defense, Peabody held Somerville to less than 200 yards of total offense and were within 1:10 of pitching a shutout. But a long pass completion brought the ball inside the Peabody 10, and a subsequent short TD run and PAT kick put the visitors on the board. Previously, the Tanners twice stopped the Highlanders inside the 10, including a key goal-line stand at the end of the first half.
The Tanners face a very stiff challenge this Friday night at Danvers (scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff), as the always tough Falcons are coming off a 28-14 victory last week over Masconomet.