FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The perfect season is complete for Beverly, and for the first time in over one-hundred years, the Panthers finished undefeated.
A lot of the pre-game talk surrounded Natick’s star quarterback Troy Flutie, who has led Natick’s high-octane offense all season by throwing 36 touchdown passes. However, Beverly senior running back Brendan Flaherty stole the spotlight on Saturday night, rushing for 175 yards on 30 carries, including two touchdown runs.
“We rally around him, he’s not only a special player, this is a special team. The kids execute the plan, and when they’re out there they made the plays,” Beverly coach Dan Bauer said.
Flaherty was also key defensively for the Panthers, who came into the game giving up just ten points per game. The senior captain was clutch when called upon, but Bauer says that it was Flaherty’s attitude on the field that kept Beverly going.
“It’s goning to be tough not having him next year, that’s for sure. He is a once in a generation player, and we’ve had some great ones at Beverly. But certainly he made the plays when it counted… Great players make big plays in big games.” he said.
He continued: “He made those around him better and that’s the absolute key, the guys rallied around him. This isn’t a one man team, but he increased their level of play and they rallied, and he led them with his leadership by example.”
Beverly lost the ball on a fumble in the first half, and later in the game Natick had some long Flutie-led drives that seemed to be momentum building, but ultimately the Panthers were able to overcome that adversity and shut the door on Natick with seconds left on the final game clock.
“Our kids never got down, we made some mistakes but the kids love each other and I think the absolute key on this team is that they come together and they really are a family,” Bauer said.
Beverly will graduate 23 seniors this spring, and after the fact Bauer admitted that though the undefeated season wasn’t necessarily something that his team acknowledged off the bat, he mentioned several times how proud he was of his team for making Beverly football history.
Bauer said that he received an e-mail from a 1935 Beverly graduate earlier this week congratulating him on the undefeated season, and he couldn’t be prouder that this team was able to bring families, fans, students, and former players together to celebrate the undefeated season.
“[Finishing undefeated] means an amazing amount to us. It means a lot to our community. I feel awesome for Beverly, I feel awesome for the kids the parents and the community,” he said.
“We had confidence in our team, we came to play to win and we weren’t going to go away unless we won this game.”