The regular season starts now for both the Gloucester and Manchester Essex football teams.
The brutal grind of double sessions is over, the teams are grasping their respective offensive and defensive systems, and after this weekend the final preseason tune-ups have passed and the teams are turning their attention to Week 1 of the regular season.
“We get into our regular season routine (today),” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said after Saturday’s scrimmage at Peabody. “We recharged the batteries over the weekend and its time to get ready for Classical.”
On Saturday, both the Fishermen and Hornets competed in their final dress rehearsal of the preseason with a scrimmage against Peabody and Pentucket respectively. Both squads played the scrimmage in actual game format in order to get ready for the regular season.
With double sessions finishing up on Friday, ending a grueling first two weeks of practice where players whip themselves into football shape while at the same time memorizing the playbook, both Gloucester and Manchester Essex were a little sluggish at the start of Saturday’s scrimmages.
“It’s a long couple of weeks,” Hornets head coach Mike Athanas said. “We practiced hard and we practiced tough early on. I thought early on Saturday we were a little lackluster, we needed to get a few series behind us to get into a groove.”
Zerilli echoed his sentiment.
“We had two-a-days Thursday and Friday and we started a little rough today,” he said. “But we kept working on it and eventually we got into a rhythm.”
On Saturday, Gloucester showed off its physical defense and running attack on offense, and while the first series or two didn’t go as planned, Gloucester looked strong once it found its groove.
In the middle of the first half the Fishermen started to move the ball on offense, and they took control in the second half with a long touchdown run from John Curcuru and a defensive score from Mike Sheehan, who scooped up a Peabody fumble after a big hit from senior captain Drew Shairs in the backfield.