Sweet 16: Salem shows off experience in 5-0 start

Salem coach Matt Bouchard doesn’t need a roster to figure out his players.

Many of the current starters have been in the lineup for the better part of three years. Last week’s 55-20 victory over Saugus made the Witches 5-0 headed into the final three weeks of the regular season.

“A lot of these guys have 20-plus games of varsity experience, so that helps,” Bouchard said. “We knew back then that we had some talented players, but the best thing about them is that they are so unselfish. All of those guys deserve to get touches, but they are just as happy seeing their teammates have success.”

People could see it coming last year when Salem went 7-4 capped off by a thoroughly pleasing 39-0 victory over Beverly on Thanksgiving Day. Bouchard will gladly talk about the win, but good luck trying to get him to mention that opponent by name.

“Beating the team over the bridge (Beverly) was big – anyone you beat a rival, that’s big,” Bouchard said. “The kids remembered the score from the year before (60-28) and it was buried in their minds. The success we had last year gave them the extra drive in the offseason. They were doing the little things, the early workouts, the extra reps, those are all variables to success.”

The offense is averaging a shade under 39 points a game and the leader is senior quarterback Corey Grimes. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder checks off all the boxes according to his coach.

“He has all the intangibles you look for in a quarterback,” Bouchard said. “The harder the game, the better he plays. He just oozes confidence in pressure situations. In the Danvers game, we were down 7-0 at the half, we come into the locker room and I’ve never seen him more locked in.”

The Witches have two guys who could very easily be the featured back at many schools in the area, but Devante Ozuna and Shane Field are content sharing the load.

“We are blessed to have two very good backs,” Bouchard said. “They probably are in double digits in missed tackles, they run tough and see the field well. And when you add in a 6-foot-3, 240-pound quarterback into the mix, it presents a lot of problems for the defense.”

Wide receivers Quinn Rocco Ryan and Albert Pujols along with tight end Logan Abboud forces defense to pick their poison. In the Saugus win, Ryan tied a school record with five touchdowns and his three TD receptions matched a previous school standard.

“These guys force defenses to try and defend us vertically and horizontally,” Bouchard said. “This week, Saugus loaded the box and it gave our receivers great opportunities.”


Roxbury Prep snapped a 16-game losing streak dating to 2019 with a 14-2 win over Keefe Tech. Juelz Jackson threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Damion Barrett, while Devin Mulrain ripped off a 48-yard TD run. Another streak went by the wayside as Brookline ended a 10-game losing streak of its own with a 28-22 victory over Boston Latin.

As for the state’s longest current winning streak, St. John’s Prep extended its run to 12 in a row with a 35-0 win over St. John’s (Shrewsbury).

On the coaching front, Foxboro defeated Stoughton 31-7, giving Jack Martinelli his 299th career win. The longtime Warriors’ head coach will seek to join the exclusive 300-win club this Friday when they host No. 4 King Philip in a Hockomock League battle of unbeaten teams.


1. St. John’s Prep (5-0) – Eagles had little trouble in their Catholic Conference opener.

2. Catholic Memorial (3-1) – Anyone who thought the Knights were going to settle for a chip shot field goal and overtime hasn’t seen John DiBiaso coach.

3. Xaverian (3-2) – Close calls against quality opposition at the Hawk Bowl isn’t going to sit well in the Xaverian locker room.

4. King Philip (5-0) – Big time Hockomock League showdown against Foxboro is on tap for this week.

5. Billerica (5-0) – Any time you get a road win at Tewksbury, you leave the field and say thank you very much.

6. Barnstable (5-0) – Dangerous contest this weekend against Mansfield.

7. Milford (5-0) – Jack Buckley has blossomed into an impressive signal caller.

8. Lincoln-Sudbury (4-1) – Warriors shut down Wayland for its third straight win.

9. Methuen (4-1) – That was a good win over previously unbeaten North Andover.

10. Everett (4-1) – We’ve said it before the Crimson Tide is going to have to give some serious thought to playing an independent schedule.

11. Hanover (5-0) – Offense was clicking and it was needed against a solid Scituate squad.

12. Milton (5-0) – Whoever said defense wins championships had this Milton team in mind Friday night.

13. Needham (4-1) – Rockets gave Milton all it could handle before falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.

14. Duxbury (3-1) – Dragons certainly didn’t suffer from rust after the bye.

15. Andover (4-1) – Great closing kick to put away Brockton.

16. Franklin (4-1) – Panthers were taken to the limit by a feisty Taunton team.

ON THE BENCH: BC High (4-1), Weymouth (4-1), Foxboro (5-0), Shawsheen (5-0), Peabody (5-0), Marshfield (3-2), Mansfield (2-3)

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