---- — 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.”
Pike has coordinated on both sides of the football in his career, as has Keleher. The new head man isn’t quite sure yet how he’ll delegate responsibilities.
“I could be the coordinator on both sides of the football or neither, depending on who we add for coaches,” said Pike. “We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Pike will continue his regular job, teaching history at Haverhill High, and he’ll keep his commitment to Hillies’ track coach Mike Maguire and work as an assistant on the Haverhill program this spring.
That doesn’t mean he will not be active at Salem.
“I have to create a relationship with the youth programs,” he said. “The Salem Rams do a great job. Keeping athletes at home is about making relationships. That will be important, but winning remains the key. If you run a successful program, the kids will come here.”
Rob Pike's Football resume 3-year starter for his dad@boxText:, Bob, at Haverhill High. Played four years@boxText: at Saint Anselm. Assisted from 2003-2008@boxText: at Haverhill High, spending last two years as offensive coordinator. Four-year assistant@boxText: at Salem High, spending last season as defensive coordinator. At age 32, Pike@boxText: has taught history for 10 years at Haverhill High. He lives in Haverhill.