By Nick Curcuru
---- — It was the greatest four year run in program history.
Four Super Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl titles, and a 50-2 record from 2007-2010, a run that is unmatched in the long storied history of Gloucester football.
That run started in the fall of 2007, when a hungry group of players put it all together and embarked on one of the most dominant seasons, and the most dominant postseason performance the program has ever seen.
The 2007 team gave itself a nickname, “The Juggernauts.” It’s pretty bold to refer to oneself as a juggernaut, but the 13-0, Division 2A state champions backed up its nickname with a blend of talent, grit and swagger.
“That was a special year,” said 07 quad-captain Adam Quinn, a starter at middle linebacker and guard that season. “As freshman we started calling ourselves ‘The Juggernauts’ because we wanted to eventually become that team that went undefeated.”
The 07 Fishermen, Paul Ingram’s first of three Super Bowl teams, were on every NEC coaches radar screen at the start of the season because of their scary talent. Gloucester entered the season with returning starters at 14 of the 22 positions from a 2006 team that finished 9-2. Simply put, Gloucester was the odds on favorite in the NEC.
Like all great teams, its talent was only the start of what made the 2007 team special. It was also one of the toughest, grittiest groups the program has seen. Its big guys were intimidating, its little guys were intimidating and big hits were at a premium on both sides of the ball.
“I think we just had this grit to our team that nobody else had, both offensively and defensively,” Quinn said. “I had been with the varsity team since my freshman year and I saw a lot of tough guys, but that 2007 team was the toughest group of guys I’ve ever been around.”
There wasn’t a hole to be found in Gloucester’s starting lineup during the 2007 season.
The Gloucester offense was unstoppable eclipsing the 400 point mark averaging just under 35 points per game. Starting running back Andrew Fulford, a quad captain, shattered the school’s touchdown record with 58 for his career. The previous record was 37 touchdowns and Fulford has still scored 12 more touchdowns than the next highest scorer in school history, Conor Ressel with 46.
As great as Fulford was, defenses could not afford to give him too much extra attention as Gloucester had three more running backs that it counted on. Fullback Anthony Enderle was a freight train weighing 240 pounds with speed while wingback Taylor Burbine and first reserve Brian Harnish also made plenty of plays in the running game. First year starter Rick Gallant quarterbacked the offense like a veteran.
The Fishermen offensive line was an equally intimidating group with both size and quickness. Sal Toarmina started at center with Quinn, who moved to the line from the backfield his senior year, and Robbie Lowe at the guard positions. Quad-captain Mario Peritore and junior Dylan Morrissey were bookend tackles. Quad-captain Cam Marston blocked like a tackle and could catch passes from his tight end spot, senior Zach Kendall was the split end.
On the defensive end Gloucester punished opponents allowing more than two touchdowns just twice all season.
Enderle and Marston formed one of the most feared defensive end duos in the state while John Celata and Peritore were a clash of quickness and brute strength at defensive tackle.
Quinn was the quarterback of the defense at middle linebacker as he and outside linebackers Lowe and Harnish were all tackling machines. Fulford joined juniors Dylan Maki, Ross Carlson and Burbine in the defensive secondary.
“We didn’t have any weaknesses,” Quinn said. “And we were all pretty comfortable with each other, we understood our playing styles and knew when to push each other.”
It wasn’t until Week 4 when the Fishermen first faced adversity. Gloucester rolled through the first three weeks blowout wins over defending NEC champion Winthrop (38-14), Marblehead (48-15) and Beverly (34-7). But it wasn’t until a Week 4 trip to Cape Cod to play Barnstable where Gloucester showed how it could handle adversity.
The two-plus hour drive to Hyannis took its toll on Gloucester as it came out a bit flat, and even trailed 14-7 at the half needing a three play, 60 yard drive in the final minute of the second quarter just to get on the board.
The Fishermen, however, started to play their game in the second half outscoring Barnstable 21-6 en route to the 28-20 win.
“We came out really flat, but we told ourselves that we were not going to have a loss on our record,” Quinn said. “I remember Fulford rallying everybody up at half time and we came out and played well in the second half.”
Wins over eventual Division 3 Super Bowl champion Swampscott, Peabody and Revere followed setting the stage for another Gloucester vs. Lynn Classical tilt for the NEC crown at the newly renovated Manning Field.
Of all the classic Gloucester vs. Lynn Classical games the 2007 contest may be the most memorable as it is known around the city as “The Comeback.”
Gloucester’s dream run was in serious jeopardy thanks to the upstart Rams, who entered the fourth quarter with a commanding 22-6 lead on their home turf.
“(Lynn Classical) was a tough, grinder team like us so we knew going into it that it was going to be a game,” Quinn said. “Once we were down nobody hit the panic button. We all stayed calm and knew what we had to do. I don’t remember the coaches screaming, or the guys losing their cool. We knew what it took to pull out a dog fight, that’s pretty much what our team was about.”
With 7:16 to play Gloucester cut the lead to 22-12 on an Enderle touchdown run. The Fishermen didn’t score again until Gallant hit Maki for a 25 yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 22-20.
That set up the most memorable defensive stand of the season. Lynn Classical chose to go for it on fourth and one around midfield with under two minutes to play and the Fishermen defense stood strong putting the offense back on the field at their own 49 yard line needing a touchdown for the win.
It took three plays for Gloucester to get that winning touchdown as two long runs from Enderle set up a Fulford plunge giving Gloucester the 26-22 win. It was one of the greatest comebacks in program history as the Fishermen outscored the Rams 20-0 over the final 7:16.
The team cruised through the remainder of the regular season from there with wins over Lynn English, Salem and Danvers; and then they rolled through the playoffs too.
In two games against Masconomet and Hingham in the postseason, the 2007 Fishermen put an exclamation point on the historic season by outscoring their two opponents by a combined score of 80-0.
Masconomet was the first victim in the Division 2A Playoffs at Cawley Stadium in Lowell.
An 81 yard kickoff return from Fulford inside the 10 yard line to open the game was a sign of things to come as the Fishermen barely broke a sweat in eliminating the Chieftains. It was 24-0 at halftime and by the time the final second ticked off the clock Gloucester was on its way to the Division 2A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium with a 39-0 win. Fulford powered the offense that game with five touchdowns.
Super Bowl opponent, Hingham, didn’t have much to offer the Fishermen either as they opened up a 34-0 halftime lead en route to a 41-0 drubbing in front of a big crowd at the home of the New England Patriots.
On the biggest stage of the year, Gloucester outclassed its opponents and as a result earned its reputation as one of the states best teams.
“We stepped on the field (in the Super Bowl) and I don’t think Hingham expected the kind of presence and intensity we brought and it showed. “We were determined, we wanted the taste of a championship.”
Gloucester would earn that taste in resounding fashion, and in the process earned its spot as one of the most dominant teams in a long line of dominant teams in the history of the program.
2007 Gloucester Football Schedule Gloucester 38 Winthrop 14 Gloucester 48 Marblehed 15 Gloucester 34 Beverly 7 Gloucester 28 Barnstable 20 Gloucester 21 Swampscott 6 Gloucester 39 Peabody 0 Gloucester 41 Revere 6 Glouceser 26 Lynn Classical 22 Gloucester 48 Lynn English 8 Gloucester 41 Salem 7 Gloucester 48 Danvers 7 Gloucester 39 Masconomet 0* Gloucester 41 Hingham 0** *Division 2A Playoffs **Division 2A Super Bowl