The Gloucester football team did not get to work on its pass defense much in Week 1 against Lynn Classical. Running their patented double-wing, run heavy offense, the Fishermen faced just seven pass attempts during last week’s win.
That looks to change tonight, as Salem (0-0) brings the spread offense to New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium for a Northeastern Conference crossover tilt (7:00 p.m.).
“We’re going to have to cover a few passes this week,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “But we have to be ready for everything, be prepared to defend and block anything. This is Salem’s first game and we have only seen them in a couple short scrimmages, but they look very quick and athletic from what we have seen.”
The Witches, who Gloucester has beaten 13 straight times, may run the spread, but they run a balanced offense featuring the read option with quarterback Austin Connolly and running backs Aaron Palmer and Genrri Rosario.
Of course Salem can also throw the football with Shakir White being the team’s leading returning receiver.
It was last season’s meeting with Salem where Gloucester turned a corner against the spread offense. The spread was a thorn in its side all season, and after a rough first half it looked to doom the team once again. But in the second half of that November meeting Gloucester made adjustments and shut down the spread offense for the first time all season. The second half performance spring boarded Gloucester to three straight wins in its final three games.
Discipline is the term the Fishermen coaching staff have been pounding into the defense this week as they can not be over aggressive against Salem’s read option attack.
“From their scrimmages it looks like they run the read option well so we have to stay home on the back side and play the run on the play side,” Zerilli said. “If you overcommit on the quarterback he is going to hand it off to the running back and if you overcommit to the running back the quarterback is going to keep it, You have to play disciplined against this team.”