GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

August 24, 2013

Why Did My Newspaper Do That? Celebrating Fishermen's football

Why Did My Newspaper Do That?
Ray Lamont

---- — Yes, as you can read on this morning’s Sports page, the 2000 Gloucester High School football team is No. 1 in our book.

As Sports Editor Nick Curcuru’s story notes, that Fishermen’s team — the first GHS team ever to compete a full 11-game season with a perfect record — is our choice as the Fishermen’s best ever, capping off our two-week “Best of Newell” series that showcased arguably the top 12 teams in the school’s proud football history.

Is it your top choice as well?

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. The truth is, we can and will never know for sure who’s No. 1. All of the teams featured – and many good teams that weren’t — included different players, many transcended the terms of different coaches, and none of them, of course, could ever play each other in a head-to-head matchup to clearly decide which was best. So the issue of which Fishermen’s team is truly the best ever can never be determined.

Why, then, would we even venture to make such a choice? Why, you might ask, would your community’s newspaper do that?

First, because we thought it would touch off a lot of good, fun discussion and debate — and by all accounts, it has.

Second, because it has hopefully rekindled a lot of fond memories for former players, coaches and fans who recall teams like Coach Nate Ross’s 1956 Fishermen’s squad that captured a state championship and earned the chance to play at the Orange Bowl in Miami — or the infamous 1987 Super Bowl game in which Gloucester appeared en route to a last-minute touchdown, but lost any chance to win on an official’s blown fumble call when photos showed quarterback Joe Pasquina’s knee was clearly down while he still held the ball.

Finally, this series — with teams chosen and ranked after Nick met with a handful of current and former GHS coaches and drew input from many readers — has turned the spotlight on the wonderful and proud history of this high school sports program that, over time, has become a significant part of Gloucester’s community fabric.

That spotlight shines especially bright this year as the city and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Athletic Association – backed by a massive grass roots fund-raising drive — are poised to host the grand reopening of the “new” Newell Stadium Sept. 6. That’s when the Fishermen kick off the new season and a new Newell era against one of their longtime big-game rivals, Lynn Classical.

So before the page is turned, we felt this would be a good time to take a good, fun look at the Fishermen’s teams of the past.

Could the defensive line of 2010’s No. 4 team, with ends Andrew Mizzoni and Chris Unis, have stopped the 1956 and No. 3-ranked Orange Bowl team’s single-wing offense, led by the likes of captain Larry Harding and Peter Hickey?

Would the top-ranked 2000 team — Coach Terry Silva’s last Super Bowl winner, with Paul Ingram among the staff assistants — have moved the ball against 1987 linebackers like Pete Lucido, Brian Fleming and Joe Havener?

For that matter, could 1938’s No. 9 team — led by Coach Ross and running back Anthony “Mooter” Albert — have bulldozed any of the later teams the way it did its own opponents, running up 210 points while allowing just 28, a school record that still stands today.

We’ll never know, of course — and that’s part of the fun. But we do know that all of these teams and players are part of a glorious community sports legacy, and that’s something to celebrate.

As always, let me know what you think.

Questions? Comments? Is there a topic you’d like to see addressed in a future column? Contact Times Editor Ray Lamont at 978-283-7000, x3432, or at rlamont@gloucestertimes.com.