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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL

Playing for a cancer-stricken teammate, Peabody football has outscored opponents 155-15 in four games

With senior captain Shea Lynch returning at quarterback alongside his three favorite passing targets, Peabody coach Mark Bettencourt expected the Tanners to score points this season.

But even Bettencourt has been surprised with how one-sided the results have been during a 4-0 start. The 13th-ranked Tanners have outscored opponents 155-15, including Friday’s 40-7 victory that snapped Marblehead’s state-best 23-game win streak.

“The 155 is obviously a shock, you don’t think you’re going to do that week-in and week-out the way that we have,” Bettencourt said. “But for me, the bigger shock is the 15 and the fact that we’ve pitched two shutouts and two one-score games against quality opponents.”

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Bettencourt credited sophomore linebackers Jimmy Festa and Kyle Marron for playing a big role, along with senior Sam Merrill, in the Tanners’ 3-3 scheme.

Peabody’s motivation extends beyond the field, however, as the team has played with heavy hearts ever since senior captain Michael Mastrocola was diagnosed with leukemia two weeks before practice began.

“He’s really been an inspiration to our entire team,” Bettencourt said. “Every week in practice, the talk is about making Mike proud and playing for Mike. I think that definitely started our incredible enthusiasm and energy at practice and it’s carried over. Each time you win, the next week gets bigger.”

Up next for the Tanners? A massive nonleague test at home against a Leominster (4-0) squad that has outscored opponents 162-20.

“Something’s got to give on Friday night,” Bettencourt said, “and that motivation will definitely carry us through this week of practice.”