The schedule doesn’t get any easier for the Gloucester football team.
One week after opening the season with defending NEC/CAL Division 1 champion Lynn English, the Fishermen will travel to Andover to take on a Golden Warrior’s team that is highly ranked at the state level in several polls and publications and figures to be a player in Division 1.
In Andover, Gloucester will be facing a team with a similar style to last week’s opponent Lynn English. Like the Bulldogs, Andover runs a spread offense and they are a threat to take it to the house from anywhere on the field. The Golden Warriors have athletes all over the field and also have a big and physical offensive and defensive line.
Andover, who resides in the ever deep and difficult Merrimack Valley Conference Large, comes into Friday’s tilt with Gloucester coming off of a dramatic 50-35 win over North Andover last week, a game where Andover scored the games final 28 points.
“They’re good and they have a lot of returning starters back from last year,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “They run the spread, they can hit the big play and they have size. They can score a lot of points and they can score them quickly.”
The Andover offense is led by quarterback C.J. Scarpa, who started against Gloucester last year in his team’s 33-16 win at Newell Stadium. In last week’s win over North Andover Scarpa had a big night throwing for 258 yards and five touchdowns.
Scarpa’s two biggest weapons are Cam Farnham and Andrew Deloury. Farnham is seen as the team’s deep threat and both he and Deloury caught touchdown passes last week.
“Their receivers are either very well coached or they have great natural instincts to play the position,” Zerilli said. “They make good cuts they know when to go down, they know when to look for the QB. It’s a precise offense.”
Andover was forced to go to the air last week after falling behind early, but when they run the ball bruising back Mark Zavrl will see most of the carries. Zavrl, who kicked a pair of 40 plus yard field goals against Gloucester last season, is also a force on the defensive end at middle linebacker and is a player that has garnered the attention of Zerilli and the Fishermen.
Gloucester’s depth will also be put to the test this week on each line as Andover boast big and physical players on both ends.
Zerilli says the Golden Warriors have a few strong linemen who only play one side of the ball, and the Fishermen are hoping to counter that by putting in a lot of bodies on each line. Gloucester tired a bit down the stretch last week against a big and physical Lynn English offensive line, and they don’t want that to happen again this week.
“When you are playing a Division 1 school like Andover they have a lot of kids that just go one way,” Zerilli said. “Last week we got a little tired with a lot of kids playing both ways and we are trying to get a lot of kids reps on one side of the ball or the other this week. It’s not that they don’t have the skill to play both ways, we just want to stay fresh and competitive against a big line.”
The Fishermen have not only been game planning for Andover this week, they have been looking to correct a few problems that plagued them last week, most notably red zone offense and allowing big plays on defense.
Gloucester moved the ball last week against Lynn English as senior captain Zach Smith compiled 164 yards on the ground and fellow captain Mark Horgan was able to break off a pair of long gains. But when Gloucester got into the red zone the offense stalled as they scored on just one of four trips inside the Lynn English
Zerilli says that his team has had a specific period of practice designed for red zone offense, and preventing big plays.
“We have been practicing red zone practice all week,” Zerilli said. “Our game plan is always to hold onto the ball, milk the clock and score, obviously we didn’t score enough last week. We have really emphasized our red zone plays this week as well as containing the offense and keeping everything inside. (Lynn English) bounced a lot of plays to the outside last week and we didn’t have a lot of pursuit. We are looking to be much better in that area (tonight).”