When Gloucester and Danvers take the field Thursday morning for the annual Thanksgiving Day clash (10:00 a.m., Dr. Deering Stadium, Danvers), one may not be able to tell the difference in the teams if it weren’t for the uniforms.
The Fishermen (3-7) and Falcons (5-5) head into the final game of the season, the 46th turkey day meeting between the rivals (Gloucester leads the Thanksgiving Day series 30-15), as carbon copies of one another.
Both teams feature run heavy wing-t offenses anchored by physical line play and multiple running threats. The two rivals also enter Thanksgiving Day playing some of their best football of the season. The similar styles means that a grinding and physical affair should be in the works.
“It’s gonna be a good game, (Danvers) is a tough team and we are expecting a battle,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “They have a big strong offensive line, good running backs and they’re tough. We are preparing for a tough game.”
Gloucester will enter with a similar backfield as the trio of Mark Horgan, Jordan Pallazola and John Curcuru have shouldered the rushing load during the team’s two game winning streak. The Fishermen enter the game on the heels of one of its best rushing performances of the season in a 43-20 win over Swampscott where Horgan and Pallazola each surpassed 100 yards rushing.
While Danvers will spread teams out a little more often than Gloucester, the Fishermen will still have to be wary of a strong Falcons running game led by Alex Valles, Alex Grant and John Thomas. Zerilli is especially wary of fullback Grant, who he describes as a “move the pile” type of back.
“They’re a running team just like us,” Zerilli said. “(Danvers) will get in your face and run down your throat. They will run it until you stop it and if you don’t they will kill you with it all day, like we do.”
The Fishermen will enter Thursday’s tilt having won seven straight Thanksgiving Day matchups against the Falcons and are hoping to bring the Kiwanis trophy back to Gloucester for the eighth straight year.
Danvers enters the game coming off a wild 46-45 win over Salem, the Falcons also played Marblehead extremely tough losing in heartbreaking fashion and also played conference champ Beverly tough this season.
While Gloucester is certainly fired up for its final game of the season, the game is bittersweet for its seniors, who will be playing the final games of their high school football careers.
“Football is my favorite sport and I’m not playing in college, I’m going to miss it a lot,” Horgan said. “But we are going to go all out and take it to Danvers. We aren’t losing that trophy.”