The Gloucester football team still has that rotten taste in its mouth.
The Fishermen remember all too well what happened on opening day 2011 against Lynn English. A 41-0 defeat, the team’s 26 game winning streak decimated, the program’s worst loss in 35 years.
The 2012 version of the Fishermen know just how important opening day is, and they don’t want to see a tough week one loss snowball the way it did in 2011.
That’s why with no postseason implications to speak of, tonight’s game against Lynn English at Hyland Field in Manchester (7:00 p.m.) is being treated with the utmost importance.
“We have to step up for the first game of the year,” Gloucester senior captain and starting wing back/defensive back Mark Horgan said. “If we get blown out like last year our fans will stop showing up and everybody is going to start talking bad about us. But I’m very confident in the team this year and how we are going to play (tonight).”
The Bulldogs didn’t open up their bag of tricks to beat Gloucester last season. In fact the defending Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Division 1 champions used a healthy dose of high percentage short passes and let their superior athleticism do the rest of the work to beat Gloucester in 2011.
Gloucester is certainly weary of those flare and wheel routes that the Bulldogs used out of the spread last year.
“They have a lot of success in the spread and it was basically a few different plays that killed us the whole game,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “We are looking to take away those plays this year.”
Lynn English was hit hard by graduation but as usual they have a bevy of speedy and athletic players at head coach Peter Holey’s disposal.
Junior Chris Lessard will be starting under center replacing NEC All Star Jermaine Kelly, who torched Gloucester for 279 yards and five touchdowns last season. Lessard’s top target will be senior Josh Batista, who caught three of Kelly’s five touchdown passes against Gloucester in 2011. Seniors Alex Ortega and Josh Michael are also players the Gloucester defense will have to keep an eye on.
“They’re always quick athletic kids and they usually have a big and strong line in front of those athletic kids,” Zerilli said.
Defensively Gloucester is going to trot out a brand new 3-4 system, a change from the 4-3 it has run over the better part of the last decade. The size of Gloucester’s front seven was the cause of the switch as defensive linemen Drew Shairs (305 pounds), David Dimaio (240 pounds) and Anthony Palazzola (240 pounds) weigh close to a combined 800 pounds. Middle linebackers Jordan Pallazola and Devin Hemeon also pack a punch at 225 and 240 pounds respectively.
On the offensive end Gloucester will look to get a push against the Bulldogs big and physical offensive line with a well executed wing-t offense.
Gloucester returns several starters on the offensive end including its entire backfield consisted of tri-captains Horgan, quarterback Santo Parisi, running back Zach Smith along with junior fullback Jordan Pallazola.
At a Glance Who: Gloucester vs. Lynn English Where: Hyland Field, Manchester When: Tonight 7:00 p.m. Last Meeting: Lynn English 41 Gloucester 0 (Week 1, 2011) What's at stake: There isn't much at stake when it comes to a playoff spot but both teams are looking to start off the season on the right foot. Gloucester is also looking to avenge last season's 41-0 loss. Did You Know?: Lynn English's win over Gloucester last season was just the second since 1990 and the first since 2005.