---- — Pride was the theme for the Gloucester football team over the stretch run of the recently finished 2012 season.
At 1-7 Gloucester was out of the running for a playoff spot and had only pride to play for over its final three games, and its pride shone through.
The Fishermen, whose record does not do justice to the way they played this season, came out and played with the same hunger over the final three weeks than they did on opening night and the results could not have been better. Gloucester finished the season with three straight wins and a 3-2 record in Tier 2 of the Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League finishing behind 11-0 Beverly, the consensus best team in all four tiers of the NEC/CAL.
“That’s what we have been stressing, Fishermen pride, have pride in what you’re doing,” head coach Tony Zerilli said. “Pride in blocking, running, tackling, covering, everything, and it started with the seniors.”
The turning point of the season for Gloucester came in week nine against Salem. After a first half where the Fishermen did not play very well, falling behind 19-7, they kicked their game into high gear in the second half.
Gloucester outscored the Witches 21-0 over the final two quarters en route to a 28-19 win. While Zerilli was hesitant to call it a turning point at the moment because the team still had two games to go, it was certainly an eye opening performance.
Three weeks later that second half of the Salem game proved to be the turning point as Gloucester went on to pound Swampscott 43-20 the next week and finished off the year with a 28-19 win over Danvers on Thanksgiving Day; its eighth straight win on Thanksgiving and the 16th win in the last 18 years.
Down the stretch Gloucester beat teams by playing good old fashioned Fishermen football, pounding teams with physical play on both ends of the field and great execution. Late in the year Gloucester’s secondary also made strides giving the team a feared defensive unit.
At seasons end Gloucester’s 4-7 record gave it twice as many wins as it had in 2011, and the improvements on the field were evident from the get go.
Outside of Andover, the Merrimack Valley Large champions and a Division 1 playoff qualifier, Gloucester was not over-matched by any team. In fact, if Gloucester caught an extra break or two in the first half of the season it could easily be looking at a 6-5 record.
The Fishermen were powered by their senior leadership as Zerilli eluded to. Captains Santo Parisi, Mark Horgan and Zach Smith, who continued to be a leader at practice and during games despite the fact that a shoulder injury sidelined him for the final seven games of the season, were at the forefront of the team’s improved play this season.
Zerilli said the goal is to bring the Gloucester football program back to prominence, and it started this season with the senior class who helped the team take a big step in the right direction.
“I told the seniors before we played Salem that we can start the turnaround right here,” Zerilli said. “And they as seniors will get credit for it. Pride brought us back this season.”
Gloucester also looks to have a promising roster in 2013, returning the bulk of its offensive and defensive lines and more than half of its starters on offense and defense including NEC/CAL All Stars Drew Shairs and Jason Lattof.
Through the ups and downs of the 2012 season one thing was evident, the Gloucester football program is moving back in the right direction, and that’s all anybody can ask for.
Gloucester Rushing Player Rush Yds. TD Zach Smith 71 497 4 (Season ending injury after four games) Jordan Pallazola 91 467 6 Mark Horgan 84 448 6 John Curcuru 68 375 3 Santo Parisi 50 253 4 Jon Good 44 21 2 Alex Enes 7 29 0 Carlo Cracchiolo 3 25 0 Devin Hemeon 2 17 0 John Salvi-Souza 3 7 0 Mike Decaro 2 2 0 Anthony Palazzola 2 20 0 Connor Harris 1 1 0 Ian Kennedy 4 (-3) 0 Passing Player PC PA Yds. TD Int. Santo Parisi 35 66 372 5 3 Ian Kennedy 6 15 240 3 Michael Cody 1 2 4 0 0 Receiving Player Rec. Yds. TD Devin Hemeon 19 233 3 Mark Horgan 10 166 2 Jon Good 5 41 0 Mike Falzarano 1 24 0 Carlo Cracchiolo 1 23 0 Jordan Pallazola 2 9 0 Connor Harris 1 6 0 Santo Parisi 1 -1 0 MANCHESTER ESSEX Rushing Player Rush Yds. TD Cory Burnham 138 610 7 Chris Dumont 79 366 4 Nate Riehl 22 118 0 Sean Desmond 14 68 0 Craig Carter 7 47 0 Zach Fleming 10 33 0 Jake Fitzgerald 8 29 0 Brian Gibson 7 25 0 John Beardsley 4 20 0 Jack Hennigan 2 5 0 Chris Carr 2 0 0 Passing Player PC PA Yds. TD Int. Cory Burnham 77 197 1,138 12 7 Receiving Player Rec. Yds. TD John Beardsley 33 514 7 Brian McAuliffe 13 311 1 Henry Gedney 15 180 3 Chris Dumont 9 49 1 Liam Logue 2 25 0 Nate Riehl 1 22 0 Zach Fleming 2 15 0