By Nick Curcuru Sports Editor
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — The spread offense has been the Achilles heel of the Gloucester football team’s defense this fall.
Heading into tonight’s NEC/CAL Division 2 clash with Salem, the Fishermen have a record of 0-4 against teams running the spread offense and have allowed 151 points in those contests, an average of nearly 38 points per game.
In Salem (4-4), Gloucester (1-7) will be facing off against another spread offense tonight at Bertram Field (7:00 p.m.), and this one is a versatile offense with a dynamic quarterback, Christian Dunston.
That high powered spread offense has led to a much improved Witches team in 2012. Sporting a 4-4 record, Salem is fresh off the heels of the biggest upset in NEC/CAL play so far this season, a 35-34 win over Marblehead, the Magicians only loss this fall.
“They run the spread and they like to run and throw out of it,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “They have shown a lot of improvements this season. Our goal is to make them one dimensional on offense. It’s been a good week of practice and the kids are excited to play.”
Zerilli praised his teams enthusiasm at practice this week despite the fact that the team, along with every other team in the state, had a shorter practice week with Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc on the entire Northeastern United States.
With one fewer day of practice the Fishermen just bumped everything up a day. Instead of a Thursday walk through Gloucester was in full pads this week, something Zerilli liked.
“I liked the way we practiced (Thursday),” Zerilli said. “It’s usually our walkthrough day and usually a tough day of practice, but with the hurricane we came out in full pads today. And I liked what I saw, we were physical and got to work, I liked what I saw so much I may do it again next week.”
Gloucester’s top priority this week against Salem will be slowing down the Witches dual threat quarterback Dunston. Last week against Marblehead Dunston had a pair of touchdown passes, the last one coming with under a minute to play with the following two point pass being the Witches winning two points. The quarterback also chipped in with 58 yards on the ground.
Offensively the Fishermen will once again show many looks in the backfield and they all revolve around senior captain and quarterback/running back/fullback Santo Parisi. The senior captain has lined up at all three backfield positions over the last two weeks doing a little bit of everything for Gloucester in terms of throwing and running the football.
“He’s very versatile and he can contribute at a few different positions,” Zerilli said. “He can run the ball, throw when we need to and block. The good thing is we can line him up at three different spots and we don’t have to give him the ball every play, but his presence at three different positions makes teams prepare for every look. It’s also a nice luxury to be able to move him around because we can keep guys fresh.”
Zerilli says Parisi will be used in a variety of backfield roles on Friday while junior Ian Kennedy will also take some snaps at quarterback, Kennedy and Parisi have been splitting snaps at quarterback over the last two weeks.
Mark Horgan, Jordan Pallazola, John Curcuru, Carlo Cracchiolo, John Salvi-Souza and Alex Enes could all get carries on Friday.