WEST NEWBURY — With a trio of veterans in the backfield, Pentucket football coach Steve Hayden uses a running back-by-committee. The rotation of backs allows his ground-and-pound style to flourish as the Sachems are not forced to rely on a single player.
During Pentucket’s first home playoff game Saturday, the revolving door in the backfield continued. But having been awarded his first — and potentially last — taste of postseason play, senior D.J. Engelke made sure to take full advantage of every carry he was given.
Engelke turned his seven carries into 195 yards and three touchdowns as Pentucket rolled over Hamilton-Wenham, 32-0.
“It’s the first playoff game I’ve been in personally, so I was excited to play and ready to get out here,” said Engelke. “We knew we had to come out firing.”
The Sachems (6-1), top seeds in Division 4 North, advanced to the semifinals, where they will host Watertown next Saturday at 1:30.
With the loss, the Generals (3-5) fall into the eliminated bracket, and will play Triton next weekend.
Pentucket’s offense only had 11 snaps in the first quarter, but scored twice to take a 12-0 lead. Ryan Kuchar scored on a quarterback keeper on the Sachems’ fourth play from scrimmage, barreling up the middle from 1 yard out.
After Hamilton-Wenham went four-and-out, Pentucket found paydirt three plays later as junior Andrew Noyes cut through the tackles on his way to an 11-yard touchdown.
The Sachems pushed their lead to 18-0 with less than four minutes remaining in the first half. Standing at Pentucket’s 27, Engelke raced 70 yards before being brought down. Two plays later, Engelke rolled into the General defensive line and emerged on the other side of the goal line.
Following halftime, Pentucket continued the rout with a 38-yard dash to the end zone by Engelke. He polished off his stat line with a 19-yard run with 2:27 remaining in the third, giving the Sachems a comfortable 32-0 lead with a full quarter to play.
On defense, Pat Freiermuth, Nick Zaia, and Ryan Depaolo each collected an interception in the second half to keep the Generals at bay.