By Nick Curcuru
FOXBOROUGH — With the weather at Gillette Stadium reaching near-blizzard conditions by the time the Gloucester football team's Eastern Mass. Division 1A Super Bowl game against Bridgewater-Raynham began, the Fishermen knew they were right in their element.
Gloucester head coach Paul Ingram had no tricks up his sleeve. The Fishermen had not devised a slew of new plays and new formations to throw the Trojans off their game. As they have all season long, the Fishermen stuck with what they know, a well-executed wing-t offense, featuring a heavy dose of toss sweeps, isolations, traps and an effective passing game.
The result could not have gone much better for the Fishermen as they came away with a 33-13 victory and their second 13-0 season and Super Bowl championship in three years. The Winter Wonderland at Gillette Stadium made for great celebrations, as the Fishermen slid through the snow and created snow angels in victory.
"What more could we do in this weather," Gloucester tight end Gilbert Brown said. "We didn't want to turn the ball over and we blocked and tackled like we were supposed to."
Ingram echoed Brown's sentiment and admitted that the wing-t offense really helped the team in the snow while it hindered the Trojans' offense, which is more wide open.
"Our offense helps us in all kinds of conditions," Ingram said. "That's why I would never run any of that other stuff like the spread. (Bridgewater-Raynham) was limited in what they could do because there is no misdirection in their offense."
Gloucester made no secrets as to what it was going to do and it rumbled over Bridgewater-Raynham for 305 yards of total offense while allowing just 191. The Trojans, just like every other team Gloucester played this season, knew exactly what the Fishermen were going to run, and they still couldn't stop it.
"It was pure adrenaline for us, we wanted it so bad and it showed," said Gloucester co-captain Gus Margiotta, who was on crutches following the game after suffering a third-quarter leg injury. "We came out there and took it to them in the first half and the second half."
The Fishermen were once again led by running back Conor Ressel, the senior had 189 yards rushing, 28 yards receiving and three touchdowns. Ressel added to his single-season and career rushing records and finished the year with 1,924 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns (27 rushing, 3 receiving). He finishes his career with 2,555 yards rushing and 45 career touchdowns. Ressel was especially impressive in the playoffs as he compiled 426 yards from scrimmage and five touchdowns in Gloucester's two wins.
You could tell what kind of day it was going to be for the Fishermen right from the opening drive. After winning the coin toss, Ingram decided to defer to the second half so he could have the wind at his back, and as it turned out, his plan worked to perfection. After forcing the Trojans to punt from their own 14-yard line after a three-and-out, B-R punter Kevin Bumpus could not handle the long snap. Gloucester junior Ben Chianciola recovered the fumble at the Fishermen 7-yard line and two plays later Jordan Shairs scored from one yard out to make it 7-0.
After forcing a punt on the Trojans ensuing possession, the Fishermen went back to work scoring in two plays again, this time it was Ressel breaking away from the pack, going 52 yards to pay dirt and giving his team a 13-0 lead just 4:28 into the game.
"Winning the coin toss really worked to our advantage because we deferred," Ingram said. "We wanted to see which way the win was blowing and we wanted to pin them in deep on the first drive. Those two quick scores were huge."
The Trojans (10-3), however, were not going to go out quietly. On their ensuing drive, quarterback Mike Connolly hooked up with receiver Neil Harrington for a 35-yard score, the extra point cut the Fishermen lead to 13-7 with 2:24 to play in the first quarter.
After each team traded turnovers and a failed drive, the Fishermen struck again late in the second. A 42-yard run from Shairs, who intercepted a Connolly pass on the previous possession, set up a 12-yard pass from Brett Cahill to Brandon Cusumano to make it 19-7 with 50 seconds to play in the half.
That's when things got a bit controversial. On a second down play Connolly hit Bumpus for a 28-yard gain inside the Gloucester 10-yard line with 25 seconds to go. The play was ruled a catch on the field but after a long conference, the officials changed their mind and ruled the play incomplete. Replays showed Bumpus get two hands on the ball and two feet down, but the ball was immediately knocked away by Ressel, whether or not he made a football move was debatable. To top it all off the officials marked the ball seven yards back from where it should have been, leaving the Trojans with a third-and-nine from the 43 instead of a third-and-two from the 36. After converting a first down, Shairs and Andrew Mizzoni combined for a sack to end the Trojan threat and bring the Fishermen into the half up 12 points.
It was halfway through the third quarter when the Fishermen did what championship teams do and put the game away. Gloucester got the ball at its own 25-yard line with 5:04 to play in the third quarter and put together a patented drive that both sucked the life out of the Trojans and essentially finished them off.
It took Gloucester nine plays, when Cahill hooked up with Ressel for a 28-yard touchdown on a swing pass, 6:01 was taken off the clock and Gloucester had a 27-7 lead with 9:05 to play in the game. Ressel would add another score, a 22-yard run with 6 minutes to play and the Trojans put together a drive with the second unit in to finish off the scoring at 33-13.
"This has just been a dream come true," Cahill said. "Nobody thought we could do it this year but we worked hard all offseason and in practice and we accomplished our goal. We're state champions."
Gloucester 33, B-R 13
at Gillette Stadium, Foxborough
Gloucester 13 6 0 14 — 33
Bridgewater-Raynham 7 0 06 — 13
G-Jordan Shairs 1 run (Sal Favaloro kick)
G-Conor Ressel 52 run (kick failed)
BR-Neil Harrington 35 pass from Mike Connolly (Mike Chicoine kick)
G-Brandon Cusumano 12 pass from Brett Cahill (run failed)
G-Ressel 29 pass from Cahill (Ressel run)
G-Ressel 22 run (kick failed)
BR-Brett Stewart 40 pass from Billy Zolga (run failed)
RUSHING: Gloucester — Conor Ressel 19-189, Jordan Shairs 10-68, Brett Cahill 1-(-5); Bridgewater-Raynham — Jake Williams 10-40, Mike Chicoine 4-13, Isaiah Johnson 3-6, Mike Connolly 4-(-5), Branden Morin 2-6, Steve Wentworth 1-0.
PASSING: Gloucester — Brett Cahill 3-4-53-2-0; Bridgewater-Raynham — Mike Connolly 5-12-91-1-1, Billy Zolga 1-1-40-1-0.
RECEIVING: Gloucester — Conor Ressel 1-28, Gilbert Brown 1-13, Brandon Cusumano 1-12; Bridgewater-Raynham — Brett Stewart 1-40, Kevin Bumpus 2-39, Neil Harrington 1-35, Sean O'Donnell 2-17.