SALEM -- Named the third Salem High football head coach in as many seasons at age 32, Rob Pike professes that Salem is indeed a destination and not a rest stop.
“There’s nothing I can say to change people’s minds, there are no magic words,” said Pike. “They will have to make their own judgments, but I have no intentions of going anywhere else.”
Pike replaces another ex-Haverhill High athlete, Adam Gagne, who was at Salem for just one season before moving on to Westford Academy.
Unlike Gagne, Pike is not new to the Blue Devils’ program, having coached three years under Jack Gati and then last year as Gagne’s defensive coordinator.
“The best thing about coaching in Salem is the great group of kids. ... The numbers are high, with great attitudes,” said Pike. “The kids like to work hard, and they are very coachable. These are exciting times.”
Pike inherits a group that took its lumps in an 0-11 campaign under Gagne.
“I think (the struggles) last season were a combination of us putting in a new system and the kids adjusting to it,” said Pike. “The kids were learning. Sometimes, you don’t get breaks. There are a whole lot of factors. I certainly think it will get better. Salem has great tradition. We won’t be down much longer.
“I don’t know what people are expecting. I think a turnaround will be very quick. I don’t think we were that far away last year.”
Over 70 candidates finished the season in the upperclass group, while between 20-30 freshmen will be stepping up.
“We have some good skill kids coming back like Jake Poore and Jason Martinez, and a handful of others,” said Pike, who will retain assistants Dan Keleher, Ben Scovotti and Steve Abraham. “It’s a good group coming back.”