By Nick Curcuru Sports Editor
Gloucester Daily Times
---- — Gloucester head football coach Tony Zerilli stopped short of calling last week’s 28-19 win over Salem a turning point for his football team. But the head coach was more than happy with the way his team corrected a few problems in the second half against the Witches.
Gloucester had trouble in close games over the season’s first eight weeks, but last week the Fishermen (2-7) turned it on in the second half, making every clutch play the game had to offer and pulling out a comeback win thanks to a 21-0 second half outburst.
“I’m don’t know if it was a turning point, but I hope it was,” Zerilli said. “We definitely did a lot of good things in the second half last week, things that we have had trouble with earlier in the season and it was definitely an eye opening experience. Coming back in the second half, putting points on the board, seeing our offense rolling and our defense making plays definitely gave us some confidence. We are hoping to bring that confidence into this week’s game. “
This week appears to be another tough and closely contested matchup with 4-5 Swampscott visiting Hyland Field tonight (7:00 p.m.).
The Big Blue enter the game on a two game losing streak falling to Danvers and Beverly, each by more than four touchdowns.
Gloucester has been a little extra excited on the practice field this week, especially its seniors given the fact that tonight is senior night where the team’s senior players will be honored in their last home game.
“They had a lot of trouble with Beverly just like us and everybody else has this year,” Zerilli said. “We are expecting a good game. They always run the spread offense well and (coach Steve) Dembowski always has a few wrinkles up his sleeve.
The kids are really excited for this one, it’s senior night and everyone wants the seniors last home game to be a win.”
Swampscott will rely on it’s patented spread offense Saturday, an offense that can produce on the ground and through the air. Quarterback Brian Santry is a dual threat as he can beat teams with his arm and legs.
Santry’s favorite target in the passing game is wide receiver Josh Rothwell, who has 445 yards and four touchdowns through the air this fall. Santry and running back Mike Faia carry the rushing load.
“Everybody talks about Swampscott throwing the ball all over the place and they do,” Zerilli said. “But they can always run the ball too. If you give just a little too much attention to the passing game they will always hurt you on the ground. It’s a tough team to defend.”
Offensively Gloucester has found an established rushing rotation. After injuries took starting starting running back and fullback Zach Smith and Jon Good out, the Fishermen have been primarily leaning on the trio of Mark Horgan, Jordan Pallazola and John Curcuru in the running game with quarterback Santo Parisi chipping in both running and throwing.
“We have found a group of guys that have done a good job in their roles,” Zerilli said. “We are going to do what we do, run the ball, control the clock, play physical and look to keep Swampscott’s offense off the field.”