, Gloucester, MA

August 19, 2013

Best of Newell- No. 6, 2009: Unbeaten state champs rolled over competition

By Nick Curcuru
Sports Editor

---- — The 2009 Gloucester football team entered the season with a gigantic chip on its shoulder. The Fishermen heard the offseason chatter loud and clear; including talks that 2009 was the end of the program’s run of dominance, the team had too many all star players to replace from a 2008 team that went to the Super Bowl and that it was one of the weaker senior classes the school had seen in a while.

“We had been hearing it since we were freshman,” said Gus Margiotta, a senior captain on the 2009 team that started at center and defensive tackle. “We were told that our class was going to be the class that stopped the tradition, turned out we went the opposite way. I think it made it a little sweeter knowing that nobody thought we would be good and proving them wrong.”

The 2009 Fishermen were eager to prove the doubters wrong, and they did so in dramatic fashion running the table for the second time in three seasons while winning the Division 1A Super Bowl, which is the highest division a Gloucester team has won a Super Bowl title.

During that season, the second of head coach Paul Ingram’s three Super Bowl titles, Gloucester proved quickly that its unknown, first-year starters were in fact very good players waiting in the wings for their opportunity; and many of those first year starters played a huge role in bringing the team up to a championship level.

Records also fell during the 2009 season as Conor Ressel set the school’s single season and carrier rushing marks with 1,924 yards rushing on the season and 2,555 for his career. First year starting quarterback Brett Cahill also gave the Fishermen a passing game to be reckoned with as he did not throw a single interception on the year to go with 12 touchdowns.

All this from a team whose biggest strength was on the defensive side of the ball.

The 2009 team kick starts a stacked second half of our countdown as each of the remaining teams have all received multiple votes for the No. 1 spot. The balanced offense and relentless defense that the 2009 team possessed solidifies its spot as one of the six best in school history.

The Players

Everywhere you looked around the 2009 team there was a new face in the starting lineup, but the Fishermen showed quickly that unproven certainly does not mean unproductive.

Cahill was a first year starter at quarterback, Ressel split time at fullback as a junior and was entering his first year as the team’s feature back. Seniors Ryan Fulford and Jeff Lane gave Gloucester a more than solid combination at the guard position as did senior Max Millefoglie at defensive tackle and Ali D’Angelo at fullback.

Juniors Gilbert Brown, Brandon Cusumano, Andrew Mizzoni, Mike Tomaino, Jordan Shairs, Adam Philpott and Anthony Lattassa also had break out seasons in their first year in the Fishermen starting lineup.

“We had a lot of guys who were first year starters, but they were just stuck behind great players over the last couple of seasons like Robbie Lowe, Dylan Morrissey and Cam Marston,” Margiotta said. “But they all waited for their time, playing hard on the scout team in practice every week and they all made the most of their opportunity.”

Although it set a few records on the offensive end, Gloucester’s aggressive and stifling defense was what had opponents shaking in their boots most. An unrelenting blitz scheme had opposing quarterbacks fighting for their lives against the Gloucester defense.

Margiotta and Millefoglie were each a force in the middle while Chris Unis (a returning starter from the 2008 season) and Mizzoni could both rush the pass and stop the run at the end position. The Fishermen linebackers in 2009 were also a force to be reckoned with as Cahill, Brown and Shairs were all named Northeastern Conference All Stars for their ability to get after the quarterback, stuff the run and even drop back into pass coverage.

On the rare occasions where teams did break through Gloucester’s relentless front seven, the secondary of Ressel, Cusumano, Philpott and Tomaino were always there to make a play.

Gloucester dominated teams with its talent, but it also had a plethora of seniors looking to step up and be leaders.

“We had amazing leadership all around,” Margiotta said. “Yeah we had captains, but if you were a senior you were expected to lead by example, and all of us did.”

On the offensive end, Margiotta anchored a strong offensive line while Ressel, D’Angelo, Shairs and Cusumano were the team’s top four rushers. Cahill completed two-thirds of his passes to go along with 12 touchdowns and no picks, Brown was his favorite receiving target.

The Season

Gloucester opened the 2009 season with a pair of big tests against Swampcott, a team that beat the Fishermen in 2008 at Newell Stadium, and Andover, a hyped Division 1 team with Division 1 college talent.

The Fishermen easily dispatched Swampscott in the form of a 27-0 shutout and then made an even bigger statement the next week pounding Andover 40-21 in a game that wasn’t even as close as the score would indicate.

“Once we beat Swampscott and avenged the loss from the year before we knew we had something special going,” Margiotta said. “We had something to prove against Andover the next week because there was a lot of hype about them with Division 1 recruits and state champion sprinters. We made a big statement in that game.”

Blowout wins over Winthrop (35-7), Beverly (41-0) and Salem (33-0) followed setting up a matchup against Masconomet in the final week of non-league games. Masconomet, who qualified for the Division 2A Super Bowl that year, lost to Gloucester in the playoffs each of two previous seasons and had its best team of the bunch.

Gloucester broke out to an early lead, but the Chieftains came roaring back pinning Gloucester deep in its own territory for the majority of the second half. But the Fishermen made one last play when they needed it as Brown picked off a pass thwarting one final Masco drive and clinching the 21-14 win.

Gloucester opened up NEC Large play with a shutout win over Peabody, followed by a 48-7 drubbing of Lynn English. A blowout win over Revere led to yet another showdown between Gloucester and Lynn Classical with the conference title on the line.

This Fishermen vs. Rams tilt may have been one of the least anticipated, but it turned out to be yet another instant classic. Gloucester broke out to an early lead but the pesky Rams fought back as they always do cutting the lead to 21-14 in the fourth quarter. Classical then mounted one last push towards the end zone in an attempt to tie the game, but a D’Angelo interception in the end zone ended those plans and propelled Gloucester into the postseason for the third year in a row.

The Fishermen finished off the regular season with a blowout win over Danvers on Thanksgiving and moved on to the Division 1A Playoffs, where a talented Westford Academy team awaited.

Murphy’s law was in full effect for Gloucester against Westford Academy as everything that could have went wrong for Gloucester went wrong, while the Grey Ghosts caught a number of breaks. In that playoff game, which was held at Manning Field in Lynn, Gloucester fumbled the ball five times, more than it had in the previous 11 game combined. It also trailed for the first time all season.

But as great teams do, Gloucester found a way to win anyway, mounting an impressive fourth quarter drive culminating in a Ressel touchdown run to give Gloucester a 35-28 win and a trip to Gillette Stadium for the Division 1A Super Bowl against Bridgewater-Raynham. Ressel carried the Gloucester offense on his back in the playoff game with 209 yards on 28 carries.

“That was one of the first times we actually had to play all four quarters that season,” Margiotta said. “It was a crazy game. Every time (Westford) caught a break they took full advantage of it. It was such a fun game and such a great win because we proved that we could go the distance and stay strong.”

The 2009 Division 1A Super Bowl, held on December 5 at Gillette Stadium, proved to be one of the most iconic games in the program’s history. Hours before game time, heavy snow fell on the home of the New England Patriots that reached blizzard conditions at times. Fortunately for Gloucester, the weather played right into its hands.

“You always dream of playing in all kinds of weather and we had seen mud bowls, the heat, pouring rain, freezing cold, everything,” Margiotta said. “But to cap off the season with a win at Gillette Stadium in a snow bowl, that was the icing on the cake.”

Against a strong, physical and highly regarded Trojans team, Gloucester showed that it was stronger, more physical and a better football team en route to a 33-13 win. In the win, Gloucester opened up a close game at half time with a relentless power running attack.

The snow also did not deter its passing game as Cahill hit Cusumano with a touchdown pass in the second half, which was the most memorable play of the game according to Margiotta.

“The wing-t isn’t a passing offense but Brett proved in practice that he was consistent so coach Ingram used it regularly,” Margiotta said. “I think that touchdown pass to Cusumano in the Super Bowl summed up our passing attack. It was just something else the defense had to worry about and we could throw effectively in all conditions.”

The blowout Super Bowl win was a perfect way to finish a perfect season. Gloucester had not only proven that it was the best team in Division 1A, but one of the best teams in the state that year and of course, one of the best teams in program history.

2009 Gloucester Football Schedule Gloucester 27 Swampscott 0 Gloucester 40 Andover 21 Gloucester 35 Winthrop 7 Gloucester 41 Beverly 0 Gloucester 33 Salem 0 Gloucester 21 Masconomet 14 Gloucester 34 Peabody 0 Gloucester 48 Lynn English 7 Gloucester 36 Revere 14 Gloucester 21 Lynn Classical 14 Gloucester 35 Danvers 7 Gloucester 34 Westford Academy 28* Gloucester 33 Bridgewater-Raynham 14** *Division 1A Playoffs **Division 1A Super Bowl