The 1949 Gloucester football team entered the season as a bit of an unknown commodity.
The Fishermen returned just five players from a 1948 team that was the runner up for the Class B State Title. Head coach Nate Ross may not have known exactly what he had when training camp opened up, but he found out quickly that the team was a force to be reckoned with, and ultimately a championship team.
Gloucester’s offense broke records in 1949 leading the state in points scored with 306 (30.6 points per game) which was also a Gloucester High School record at the time, a record that stood for 38 years until it was broken in 1987.
A star studded backfield and undersized but highly effective offensive line saw Gloucester finish the season on a tear straight to the Class B state championship, Gloucester’s first state title since 1938, when it took home the Class C state title.
The Fishermen’s record setting offense and richly talented backfield still resonate to this day as one of the most successful in program history.
Gloucester may have had just five known commodities entering the ‘49 season, but those five players were some of the most feared players on the North Shore including captains Anthony “Hogan” Garrisi and John Misuraca at quarterback and guard respectively. Tailback Jack “Rabbit” Lucido is still seen as one of the program’s most dynamic runners while end Jim Pike and linebacker Farrell Roberts were both all star quality players.
It was Gloucester’s record-setting single wing offense (known today as the wild cat) that garnered most of the headlines during the 1949 season. Ross had five backs at his disposal and all of them were productive in Garrisi, Lucido and Jerry Nicastro at quarterback, tailback and fullback respectively while Arthur “Sookie” Sawyer and Bob Jedrey split time at wing back.
The Fishermen also had a deep group of ends that season as Pike, Roberts and Allan McPhail each saw time in the starting lineup. Charlie DeCoste, David Harrisson and Francis Kennedy also saw plenty of action at end on both sides of the ball.
The Fishermen offensive line was severely undersized in 1949, but that didn’t stop them from opening gaping holes in the opponents usually much larger defensive unit. Tackle Charlie Currier was the largest of the group at 180 pounds. Misuraca and George Maciel, each weighing around 160 pounds, played guard, Charlie Courant was the starting center and Bob Quinn manned the other tackle position.
On the defensive end Gloucester was nearly as dominant as its offense allowing just 93 points on the season recording a pair of shutouts and not allowing more than two touchdowns in any game.
Misuraca anchored a stellar defensive line with Maciel, Joe Randazza and Joesph “Popeye” Interrante chipping in.
Ross would find out just what his 1949 team was made of in the opener against Revere. The Patriots were a much improved squad from the season before and Ross knew if his Fishermen handled them with ease, they would be a contender.
“We ought to have a pretty good season if we get by Revere,” the iconic coach told the Gloucester Daily Times that season.
Gloucester not only got past Revere to open the season, it ran right through the Patriots to the tune of a 39-6 drubbing and the run to a state title was on.
Wins over Lynn Classical (27-14), Newburyport (26-0) and Swampscott (41-13) followed setting the stage for the most difficult stretch of Gloucester’s schedule, back-to-back games with Marblehead and Beverly.
Marblehead visited Newell Stadium unbeaten, untied, unscored upon and first place in Class B heading into the Week 5 matchup. Gloucester, however, was not intimidated despite the fact that they were giving up an average of 20 pounds at each position on the offensive and defensive lines.
Gloucester scored on its third play from scrimmage when Garrisi caught a short pass from Lucido and raced 41 yards into the end zone, he would add what turned out to be a pivotal extra point to make it 7-0. Marblehead scored after a Fishermen turnover in the second half but the extra point failed and Gloucester still led 7-6. That score would hold as both defenses held strong the rest of the way.
Misuraca was the player of the game for Gloucester as he dominated the game from his defensive line spot.
The Marblehead victory was its biggest win of the season, but the physical nature of the contest took its toll on Gloucester the next week at Beverly. A banged up Gloucester team never backed down in front of more than 11,000 fans at Hurd Stadium, but Beverly held off a late Gloucester push for a 12-7 win.
The Panthers caught a few breaks in the game, including the football deflating inside the 10 yard line after a blocked punt instead of rolling into the end zone for an easy touchdown. Gloucester fumbled the next play and squandered the opportunity.
The Week 7 loss was a wake up call for Gloucester, and it rolled through the rest of the season outscoring its opponents 168-43 over its final four games.
Wins over Peabody (37-12), Amesbury (32-6) and Melrose (39-12) followed setting up Gloucester’s season finale against Wakefield. A win over the Warriors and Gloucester would be crowned Class B state champs.
As it turned out, Gloucester didn’t just beat Wakefield, it beat them up to the tune of a 51-13 massacre clinching the Class B state title in style.
The 1949 Gloucester team did not just break records, it held onto them for decades as its single season point total did not fall for four decades and its record eight opening drive touchdowns did not fall for another five decades. One record that still stands is the team’s nine interception returns for a touchdown.
Those record setting performances combined with its dynamic back field and the program’s second state title make the 1949 team one of the most successful teams in the program’s championship rich history.
Information from the books “Nate” and “Fishermen Football: First Century” by former Gloucester Daily Times reporter John “Doc” Enos was used in this story.
1949 Gloucester Football Schedule Gloucester 39 Revere 6 Gloucester 27 Lynn Classical 14 Gloucester 26 Newburyport 0 Gloucester 41 Swampscott 13 Gloucester 7 Marblehead 6 Gloucester 7 Beverly 12 Gloucester 37 Peabody 12 Gloucester 32 Amesbury 6 Gloucester 39 Melrose 12 Gloucester 51 Wakefield 13