In the spring of 2021, Corey Grimes was a freshman splitting time at quarterback when Salem was in the midst of its dark days, finishing winless and losing by an average of 32 points.
On Friday, the senior quarterback celebrated on the turf at Manning Field in Lynn after helping Salem punch its ticket to the Division 6 Super Bowl with a 38-24 drubbing of Stoneham in the Division 6 semifinals. Grimes explained the ascension of the program with a short and sweet review of the last three years.
“The amount of work we put in on the field and in the gym, it got guys to come out, buy in, and now it’s paying off” said Grimes. “It’s amazing to go through this whole process. We built it from the gutter all the way to now, going to the Super Bowl. It’s really cool.”
FINAL: Salem 38, Stoneham 14— Matt Doherty (@m_doherty23) November 18, 2023
For the first time since 1999, Salem is headed to the Super Bowl.
They needed just 14 offensive plays to score 38 points before salting it away.
Devante Ozuna had 3 TDs, including catches of 53 and 81 yards. @GlobeSchools pic.twitter.com/7PFNUYZRn0
Salem (9-2) will face Saturday’s winner between Fairhaven and Hudson at Gillette Stadium in the program’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1999.
“I’m so proud these kids,” said Salem coach Matt Bouchard. “Corey is a great example because it was tough during that 2020 season, the COVID year. It’s about the commitment and resiliency. It’s easy to quit during the dark time and our kids didn’t.”
Salem’s explosive offense, which entered averaging 37 points per game, needed just 14 offensive snaps to hang 38 points on 15th-seeded Stoneham (6-5).
On the first play of the game, Quinn Rocco Ryan returned the opening kick 93-yards for a touchdown. After Stoneham responded with a touchdown, Albert Pujols returned the ensuing kick off for another score down the right sideline. From that point, it was clear the Witches’ skill position players were too much to handle.
Grimes connected with star playmaker Devante Ozuna for touchdown passes of 53 and 81 yards later in the half. On both plays, Ozuna snagged the pass at the line of scrimmage and used his speed and explosiveness to outrun the defense. Salem led 32-14 at the break.
“I got to give props to Coach Bouchard,” said Grimes. “He’s a genius and he calls the right plays at the right time. I just have to give it Devante and he will do the rest. He’s an amazing play maker.’
Ozuna added his third touchdown in the third quarter for the knockout punch, a 16-yard run in which he dragged a defender on his back for 10 yards across the goal line.
With its run-first offense, Stoneham could not keep up, despite running 42 more plays than Salem. The loss snapped the Spartans’ six-game winning streak.