GLOUCESTER — All season long, Gloucester head football coach Tony Zerilli has stressed the importance of playing for all four quarters.
And while Zerilli's Fishermen have gained the reputation of a second-half team, they have had a tendency to dig themselves into first-half holes.
But in Friday's Division 3 Northeast Quarterfinal tilt at New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium against Northeastern Conference rival and fifth seeded Beverly, No. 4 Gloucester turned in a complete, four-quarter performance en route to a 28-13 win.
The win moves Gloucester, which swept its two games against Beverly this season, to the Division 3 Northeast semifinals, where it will play the winner of this afternoon's matchup between No. 1 Tewksbury and No. 8 Somerville.
Zerilli was quick to praise his team for a complete effort, because quite frankly it could not afford anything less against the Panthers.
"We talked before the game that we need to play four quarters, we need to put a full game together," Zerilli said. "And we did that, we played a great football game. Beverly made me nervous coming in, they've been playing really well and they're a much improved since Week 4. But the kids fought until the end and played a complete game."
Fishermen senior captain Jason Lattof echoed his coaches sentiment lauding his team for improving as the game went on.
"We always get stronger as the game goes on," Lattof said. "We played four quarters today and we are going to continue to play four quarters as the year goes on. This is team tough, mean, physical and we're coming for it. A state championship is our only goal, we've worked to hard to let it go now."
When Zerilli says his team turned in a complete effort, he was not exaggerating as the Fishermen were clicking on both offense and defense Friday night.