By Nick Curcuru
MARBLEHEAD — The Gloucester football team was forced to go with a youth movement on Friday night at Marblehead.
The Fishermen were playing without four injured two-way starters in seniors Zach Smith, quarterback Santo Parisi, and Austin Titus along with junior Jon Good forcing Gloucester to sprinkle in a bunch of junior varsity players.
Unfortunately the young Fishermen were thrown right into the fire against one of the best teams in the NEC/CAL Division 2, and as a result the experienced Magicians put on an offensive clinic en route to a 39-12 win at Piper Field.
“The injury bug has hit us hard this year,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “But I am proud of our young kids, they played their hearts out. We had a quarterback (Ian Kennedy) making his first start and a pair of safeties starting on varsity for the first time and all of them gave it everything they had which is all you can ask for.
We had some matchup issues and that was the story, but I’m proud of the way we fought.”
The difference in the game was Marblehead’s potent spread offense. Quarterback Ian Maag had a huge game for the Magicians throwing for 231 yards and five touchdowns, running in another. Maag also spread the ball around hitting five different receivers.
As the game wore on the Magicians size also played a factor, linebackers Tyler Bates and Liam Gillis made tackles all over the field and gave the Gloucester offense problems from start to finish.
“We played a lot of young kids tonight but that takes nothing away from Marblehead, they’re a great team and (Maag) is a great quarterback,” Zerilli said. “And their linebackers (Bates and Gillis) were studs. If you don’t block them they will make every tackle which they did. They ran a lot of slants on defense which occupied our blockers up front. That’s a very good team and they are going to continue to be successful.”
Ahead 20-12, the Magicians broke the game open with a Maag touchdown run with under 30 seconds to play in the half to make it 26-12 at the break.
They would take that momentum into the second half as Maag hit Brian Daly on touchdown passes of 40 and 25 yards to cap the scoring at 39-12.
Early on the game had the looks of another tight ball game that would come down to the fourth quarter, much like Gloucester’s last two games against Lynn Classical.
The Magicians (7-0) opened up the game with a bang as a 59 yard kickoff return from Brooks Tyrrell set them up at the Gloucester 31 yard line. It would take Marblehead one play to score when Maag hit Zac Cuzner on a 31 yard swing pass.
Gloucester would answer later in the frame when a Mike DeCaro 60 yard punt return set up a 15 yard touchdown run from John Curcuru to cut the Magicians lead to 7-6.
Marblehead answered back on its next possession when Maag hit Jeremy Gillis for a 14 yard touchdown to make it 13-6. Gloucester, however, answered again on its ensuing drive, which was capped off by a 30 yard touchdown run from Jordan Pallazola. Cuzner struck again later in the second hauling in a nine yard pass from Maag.
Magicians coach Jim Rudloff was quick to praise the Fishermen’s heart and desire.
“You can’t teach a kid, I don’t care what town, to play like a Gloucester kid,” Rudloff said. “They’re tough, it’s in their DNA. It’s a confidence boost to beat them twice. That doesn’t mean we’re better than Gloucester, we just happened to beat them on two Friday nights.”