Full story coming Friday’s Salem News, but here are some highlights from our conversation with Mark Bettencourt, who was named Peabody High’s 21st head football coach on Thursday. (Add: That story is now live here: http://www.salemnews.com/sports/x1746086627/Peabody-tabs-Bettencourt-as-head-coach )
An 8-person search committee conducted seven interviews from a pool of 16 candidates and unanimously recommended Bettencourt, who has a 130-53 record in eight seasons as PHS baseball coach with seven league championships and one D1 North finals appearance.
Staff: Bettencourt has tabbed Dave Bettencourt, who had great success as an assistant in Andover and brings 18 years of experience, as his defensive coordinator. Ex-Tanner greats Bob Murphy and Jimmy Festa will coach linebackers, ex-interim head coach Matt O’Brien will return to help the offense and Mark Falco will move from freshman to varsity.
Schedule: Peabody is opening with Lynn English and Somerville before getting into its NEC “B” Division games against, in no particular order, Danvers, Lynn Classical, Salem, Revere and Winthrop. They’ll then play their assigned MIAA Division 1 “playoff week” games and face Saugus on Thanksgiving.
On his offense: “My uncles played for Arhtur Adamopoulos, who ran the same offense for 20 years and had success. Niz added his wrinkles to that had success for 20 more years. My question was always, what was wrong with that? So we’ll look to follow in those footsteps. Now, we’ll add our wrinkles and do different things to create angles depending on our athletes, but this is a hard-nosed town and we’re going to play hard-nosed ball.”
On close friend Scott Wlasuk, the coach from 2008-2012: “The thing I told Scott was that all the time, heart and soul he put into this program will not be for nothing. No way. It won’t go to waste. The program made some real strides while he was coaching that we’re going to be able to build on.”
On baseball players potentially coming out for football, or spreading interest: “I think my guys will able to tell their friends ‘This is what this guy is all about, this is what he expects.’ The kids are going to know what they’re getting into. They’re going to cross their T’s and dot their I’s. There’s not going to be any acting up int he community. They’ll know what’s expected, being at practice and when they’re there they’re going to be working, going all out.”
On practice and the importance of preseason camp in August: “It’s immense. We have to be ready when the shooting starts. We’re going to teach them how to block and teach them how to tackle and we’re going to rep them until we get them right.”
On being selected from a field of 16 applicants, including 3 current head football coaches: “I’m extremely humbled. There were some very solid applicants, some very experienced guys, and that the confidence that the committee had in me, the faith they put in my to be the guy who can turn this around, is very humbling.”
On the schedule, relating to his always difficult baseball schedule: “It took me some time to build that up in baseball. We’ll need to see what we’re getting into. Now, long term, I loved our rivalry with Everett and people know from baseball how I feel about playing St. John’s Prep. We want to build this program back up to the highest level but right now we’re not there.”
On Peabody’s on-going quest to improve Coley Lee Field and get artificial turf: “I’ll play in the parking lot if I have to. I’ll play on a cow patch. As a citizen of Peabody, I want the new field, and as a coach I’ll advocate for it, but as far as we’re concerned as coaches and players its irrelevant. We won’t make make excuses.”
On learning to win: “We need to teach them how to win. That comes with fundamentals and technique. I don’t go out looking to win. Winning is a byproduct of how you practice and doing the right things.”
On what it means to coach football in Peabody: “It is a privilege I take very seriously. It is humbling. To be able to have the same kind of impact on kids that coach Niz and his staff had on me is an honor. This is right up there for me, along with getting the baseball job eight years ago.”
On a core coaching philosophy: “I think four things: Discipline, dedication, relentless work ethic and good character. That’s what we’re looking for. It’s the only way I know how to operate and everybody’s going to be on the same page, fighting for the guy next to him.”