HYANNIS, Mass. -- Heading into tonight's installment, the previous three contests between border rivals Dennis-Yarmouth and Barnstable had been decided by a total of five points, with D-Y taking the last two in some memorable finishes.
Tonight's installment of what has become Cape Cod's fiercest non-Thanksgiving football rivalry, before a capacity crowd of several thousand at Barnstable High, was memorable for completely different reasons.
The 2012 version of this rivalry will be remembered for the clinic that Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody put on, throwing for 350 yards and four touchdowns, with 65 more yards on the ground, in a 55-14 thrashing of the Dolphins that improves the No. 4 Red Raiders to 2-0. Middle linebacker Andrew Ellis, the leader of the Raiders' aggressive defensive front, offered up beams of relief as he looked up at the scoreboard.
"We finally did what we were supposed to do, man," he beamed. "We come out here every year like we should beat the snot out of these guys, but something happens, they get rolling, we can't stop them. But this year we finally did what we needed to do."
Said senior center Tom Grimmer, "It feels pretty good. The past two years, I've walked off the field with tears in my face. It just feels good tonight to finally get this before I get out of high school, out from under my skin. The monkey's off our backs now, finally."
Peabody has watched this game from the bench the previous three seasons as backup to record-setter D.J. Crook, but tonight he looked like he's been a four-year starter, hucking balls over the deep middle seemingly on a line and hitting his receivers intuitively in stride. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound senior finished the night 15-of-18 passing to go with the 350 yards.
"We punted once, [but] want to put it in every time we get the ball," said Peabody, who has totaled 10 touchdowns (eight passing) in the first eight quarters of the Raiders' 2012 season. "There was a lot of good, we still have some stuff to work on for sure, and we'll be working this week."
A number of factors have led the Red Raiders' dominant start to 2012 -- they've outscored the opposition 110-20 through the first eight quarters of the season -- but the most visible one, at least tonight, was the connection with senior wideout Dylan Morris. The 6-foot-2 speedster hauled in five passes for 207 yards and the first two of Peabody's four scoring strikes.
As D-Y (0-1) attempted to stack the box, Peabody went to Morris in space for some favorable results. Their first scoring strike happened after Derek Estes came up with a goal-line pick to give the Raiders the ball at their own two. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Peabody found Morris on a skinny post well behind the safety, for a 98-yard touchdown that made it 14-0 with 1:04 to go in the first quarter.
The Dolphins went three-and-out on the ensuing drive, and Peabody went back to his familiar target again on the first play of the Raiders' next drive. This time, it was a fly route down the left sideline, where Morris easily hauled in the pass against single-coverage then hip-shook a high arm tackle to march 51 yards to paydirt and a 21-0 advantage.
"He's a field general," Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said. "He makes sure we're in the right position and right place, and he'll let the offensive coordinator know 'Hey, I'm seeing this', and we trust him enough to put him in a position...and he's got so much trust in all his other weapons.
"With Hayden [Murphy] at running back, and Dylan and Tedaro [France] and James [Burke], there's a bunch of guys you've got to worry about and defend, and if you defend one, somebody else is open. And Nick's got that confidence in all his teammates."
Peabody threw two more TDs, one to James Burke on another skinnny post before the end of the first half, then a 20-yard fade to Manny Perry at the back pylon to begin the fourth quarter.
"They came out and they were kind of stacking the box, bringing some pressure, and they didn't have a high safety over the top," Peabody said. "So we kind of thought if we could isolate Dylan on the outside he could beat the corner. And he did that a couple times for the big play."
In the zone: Coming into this matchup, some mused that the key matchup might have come in the trenches, where Barnstable center Tom Grimmer was likely to square up with D-Y defensive tackle Joe Tyo. But considering the offensive numbers they put up tonight (513 yards from scrimmage), and the way they consistently moved the ball downfield, this was more the function of a unit rather than one singular act.
Though the centerpiece is nice. At 6-foot and 255 pounds, Grimmer displays a unique combination of leg power and low center of gravity to maintain leverage against bigger opponents, such as Tyo tonight. A three-year starter under center, Grimmer has had a reputation as a ferocious competitor in the weight room.
As for the line itself, the way the Raiders set up the run in Whidden's run-and-shoot scheme requires surgical zone blocking. It's a philosophy that has been ingrained in their heads since freshman year, after becoming accustomed to man-to-man concepts in the town's youth program.
"It's tough to get used to right away," Grimmer said. "But we've been doing it a while, and all we do is that zone blocking scheme. We've gotten used to it. It adds to our unity a little bit, becuase there isn't any chance to shine individually. A zone blocking scheme is designed to work together. When it works right, and everybody's getting off their blocks, it feels good."
Peabody had high praises for his line after the game.
"It's a great group, you really couldn't ask for any better of a group," he said. "They work hard. Those guys lift a ton of weight, they work really hard in the offseason, so it's not the [biggest] line but they're low to the ground and very strong. They have great technique. I have all the time in the world back there, they open up big holes. They're great."
Defense drops the boom: The secondary was exemplary tonight, led by Estes, and Whidden deferred to the expertise of one of his secondary coaches -- none other than former Oakland Raider and Falmouth High great Willie Ford -- for that aspect (can't hurt, right?).
When you ask the No. 1 team in the state, Everett, what they think of Barnstable, they will tell you the Raiders were one of the hardest-hitting teams they faced all season, if not the toughest. More than Kevin Hardy's ball-hawking skills at free safety, this hard-hitting mentality is explicated in the front seven behind guys like Ellis and Bryan Hardy.
The Raiders switched off between three- and four-lineman fronts, with Ryan Litchman strafing in and out of the box as a "Rover". When Ellis read a run, he sniffed it out quick, and he hit the hole with authority. If you watched his play in last year's overtime epic against Bridgewater-Raynham, you know this is a familiar routine with the 5-foot-10, 230-pounder.
But give credit to the interior, where seniors D.J. Goncalves, Jason Freih and John Eldridge used their long reaches to get leverage on their opponents and free up gaps for the linebackers to shoot.
"We expect that out of Jason Freih," Whidden said. "He's a returning all-league kid, and we know what we're going to get out of them."
Said Ellis, "The D-line was just taking out the holes. They just get in there and do what needs to be done, and they make our job easy."
NO. 4 BARNSTABLE 55, DENNIS-YARMOUTH 14
BA 14 20 7 14 --- 55
DY 0 6 8 0 --- 14
B - Hayden Murphy 5 run (Terrence Mudie kick) 7:41
B - Dylan Morris 98 pass from Nick Peabody (Mudie kick) 1:07
B - Morris 51 pass from Peabody (Mudie kick) 9:56
D - Spencer McCaffrey 80 pass from Jacob Pawlina (rush failed) 5:10
B - James Burke 45 pass from Peabody (kick failed) 3:47
B - Murphy 17 run (Mudie kick) 1:43
D - Cory DeSimone 3 run (Pawlina run) 5:39
B - Tedaro France 7 run (Mudie kick) 4:27
B - Manny Perry 20 pass from Peabody (Mudie kick) 10:12
B - Kristian Lucashensky 2 run (Mudie kick) 2:35