SAUGUS — Tommy Trainor settled into his stance behind the defensive line, his red and white Saugus High uniform caked thickly with mud from repeatedly slamming Newburyport players into the ground.
Running back Tyler Cusack tried to squeeze past the line of scrimmage, but the Sachems’ middle linebacker met him head on and dragged him to the ground, exhibiting a perfect form tackle.
On the Saugus sideline, linebackers coach Don Trainor Jr. applauded his nephew’s effort, while Tommy’s father, Tom, the team’s wide receiver coach, looked on.
Along the fence stood the eldest Trainor, Don Sr. , who started it all when he played linebacker for Winthrop High in 1941. “I’m the one who started this mess,” he said proudly.
On the field, Tommy embodies the three generations of linebackers that took the field before him.
“My family is a football family,” he said before a practice session last week. “You learn a lot from their experiences, and seeing them on film is great.”
Don Trainor, Tommy’s uncle, a 1979 Saugus High graduate, played middle linebacker on the 1977 squad — the last Sachems team to win the Northeastern Conference.
From 1981-83, Tom Trainor (class of ’84) stepped in at the linebacker spot, coached by his brother, Don, just 19 at the time.
Now it’s time for Tom’s son Tommy, who, at 5-feet-11 and 225 pounds, is built for the position. But what sets the senior captain apart is his ability to read plays and make adjustments — a result of constantly analyzing film with his family.
“Being around people that love and know the game, I learned to love the game,” Tommy said. “Their experiences help me because they know certain tendencies of high school players, and I learned to watch film from them and that helps me a ton.
“I’ve taken away many good things from my uncle, my father, and my grandfather.”
“He’s a natural linebacker,” Don Jr. added. “It’s natural for him to find the football, and when he gets there he’ll make the hit.”
Averaging 10 tackles a game, Tommy Trainor is the spearhead of the Sachems defense.
“He’s been tremendous for us the past two years,” Saugus head coach Mike Broderick said. “His performance on the field is very similar to [his father and uncle], and he’s a tremendous student of the game.”
On offense, senior running back and captain Nick Benoit has shouldered the workload, especially while running back Ismeal Minaya was sidelined for two games with a knee injury. But Minaya returned to the lineup in Friday’s 20-14 loss to Newburyport, and Benoit couldn’t be happier now that the team’s triple option attack, orchestrated by senior quarterback C.J. Randolph , is complete again.
“I love it, it’s a comfortable feeling’’ having Minaya back, Benoit said. “I get to take a breath, and he’s a good running back. He fills my shoes, and I fill his.”
With a 4-3 record (0-2 Cape Ann/Northeastern Division 3), Saugus is clinging to its playoff hopes. But with upcoming opponents Amesbury (5-2, 1-0) and Pentucket (4-3, 1-0), the Sachems control their own destiny.
“We still have three league games,” Broderick said. “And we feel as though we’re close to all these top teams. We just have to put a couple of things together and minimize the mistakes, and I think we’ll do all right.”
Revere relishes wins, hungers for more
Revere is in position to accomplish a feat not achieved in 31 years.
The Patriots have not produced a winning season since current head coach Lou Cicatelli and longtime assistant Vin Gregorio were anchors on the offensive line for the 1981 squad that sailed to a 7-3 record.
Revere (5-1) can secure a winning season Saturday with a victory over Cambridge (3-4).
“There’s a lot at stake and we can make history,” said Cicatelli, whose team finished 5-6 last season after a 5-1 start.
“That’s on my mind to a degree, and more importantly it’s on the kids’ mind. These kids really want it. We don’t want it to slip through the cracks again.”
After Saturday’s matchup against Cambridge, the Patriots will take on Lynn Classical, seeking to go 3-0 in the Cape Ann/Northeastern (Division 1) conference. Revere, currently in first place, has not qualified for the playoffs since the 1973 edition that lost to Brockton in the Super Bowl.
“We know we hold our own destiny in our hands, especially with Classical the week after,” said Cicatelli. “My philosophy isn’t going to change, and that’s to take it week by week, and we have to focus on Cambridge.”
Last Thursday, Revere let a 28-7 lead over Lynn English slip away and trailed 29-28 with just over a minute to play.
But on fourth and 12, quarterback Joe Ritchie hooked up with Kyle Gotham for a 26-yard pass to the English 10, setting up senior Jeff Simbert for a game-winning 25-yard field goal with 35 seconds left.
“I’ve been practicing all week with my team, and the offense gave me a shot to make the field goal, so I just did it,” Simbert said.
Simbert, who moved to Revere from France a year ago, loved soccer and asked Cicatelli if he could kick.
“He just wanted to kick, and I never let him go,” Cicatelli said. “It’s hard finding kids to kick.”
Ritchie (six rushing touchdowns, five passing), Gotham (three touchdowns), and running backs Tommy Portrait eight touchdowns) and Bobby Rose (three touchdowns) power the Patriots offense.
“We have so many good players, that if one of us is having an off game another can fill in,” Gotham said. “If you shut one kid down, you have the other that will do good.”
Revere will be without linebacker Comlan Ajindah (foot surgery) the rest of the way, while cornerback Nick Carini (torn meniscus) may or may not return.
Offensive guard Marvin Rios , who broke his hand against Lynn English, is also out.
“We’ve had so many injuries, but we just find a way to keep [winning],” Cicatelli said. “We’ve found a way to get younger guys to keep stepping up, and that’s been the difference.”
Cicatelli is excited to have a coaching staff of former players, including offensive coordinator Jose Escobar , a 2005 graduate who rushed for more than 2,800 yards, and line coach Manny Velez , who graduated in 2009 and tallied 15 sacks in his final two seasons.
“I’ve been waiting for this forever,” Cicatelli said. “And I’m very proud of those guys.”
Here and there
Burlington (6-1) hammered Wakefield (6-1) 33-6 Friday, snapping the Warriors’ six-game win streak. The Raiders are now 2-0 in conference play, tied with Stoneham (7-0, 2-0) for the Middlesex Freedom lead. . . .
With Central Catholic trailing 21-14 going into the fourth quarter, backs D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie and Santino Brancato both scored touchdowns to lead the Raiders to a 28-21 win over Chelmsford. . . . North Shore (5-2) scored 54 points in the first half Saturday en route to a 60-0 win over Mystic Valley Charter of Malden.
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.