Everything the Gloucester football team has done in the first half of the season has been in preparation for this point in the year.
The long days of double sessions in late summer, fighting through the toughest schedule of all 24 teams in all four tiers of the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League “super conference,” the grueling weeks of practice and the extra time in the film room have all been in preparation for the final five games of the season.
Those final five games aren’t just any five games, Gloucester will be running the gauntlet that is the NEC/CAL Division 2 for the remainder of the season.
The Fishermen may enter conference play with a 1-5 record, but at this point in the year Gloucester, Beverly, Danvers, Salem, Marblehead and Swampscott are all on an even playing field. Every team is sporting a 0-0 record when it comes to conference play and a playoff spot.
By Thanksgiving the second tier of the NEC/CAL will have a champion, but right now it’s anybodies game. Here’s a look at what to expect over the next five weeks of conference play.
Although all six teams are sporting matching 0-0 conference records heading into the weekend’s slate of games, a favorite in the league has emerged over the season’s first six weeks, that favorite being Beverly.
The Panthers have racked up a 6-0 record against tough competition including Concord-Carlisle, Masconomet and Lynn Classical and they have put up that unbeaten record in impressive fashion outscoring opponents by a score 236-42. Beverly sports a relentless rushing attack led by Brendan Flaherty, the most dynamic player in the league, Kenny Pierce and Isiah White.
Beverly not only looks like the best team in Division 2 of the NEC/CAL, it looks to be the top team in all four tiers of the 24 team conference, and it looks to be the top team by a long shot.