GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

December 7, 2009

Three-year run the greatest ever for Fishermen

On Football

Given the tradition of the Gloucester High School football program, dubbing a Fishermen team's success as once-in-a-generation is not a term that can be thrown around lightly.

But after the snow settled and there was a chance to reflect on Gloucester's 33-13 win over Bridgewater-Raynham in the Eastern Mass. Division 1A Super Bowl last Saturday night, the success of the program over the last three years is indeed once-in-a-generation. In fact, it's the best three-year run in the history of the program.

Not since the Fishermen won back-to-back Class B state titles in 1955 and 1956, have the Fishermen seen a run of this magnitude. Paul Ingram's team has put together a 37-2 record over the last three seasons, which includes two Super Bowl title, three trips to Gillette Stadium and two 13-0 seasons. Before 2007, no Gloucester team had made it to two straight Super Bowls (they did not have Super Bowls in the 1950s). The Fishermen's .949 winning percentage is the best three-year run in school history.

"It's been a dream come true," Fishermen senior quarterback Brett Cahill said. "We just won another state championship."

The Fishermen have gotten to this point through sheer dominance. They have been all but a guarantee to win the Northeastern Conference Large crown in each of the last three seasons, putting up a 15-0 record against NEC large foes in that span and a 27-1 record against all Northeastern Conference foes.

In each of the last three seasons the Fishermen have averaged more than 30 points per game while allowing fewer than 10. To top it all off, their postseason dominance has been just as impressive as their success in the regular season. Gloucester is 5-1 in the postseason over the last three years and in their five postseason wins the Fishermen have outscored their opponents 173-48.

A move from Division 2A to Division 1A did not hinder the Fishermen's dominance as they were still impressive enough to overcome five fumbles in their 34-28 win over Westford Academy in the semifinals, notching 337 rushing yards and no punts in the win. In the win over Bridgewater-Raynham in Saturday's Super Bowl, Gloucester left the Trojans in the dust en route to a 20-point win.

Gloucester and Bishop Feehan are the only two teams in Eastern Mass. to have won two Super Bowls in the last three years and only Gloucester and Marshfield have been to Gillette Stadium each of the past three seasons. The Rams, however, only won one Super Bowl in that span.

Even in an age where teams are starting to get away from the old smashmouth football style, in favor of a spread offense, Gloucester has stuck with its roots and continues to run the wing-t offense to perfection.

Opponents have seen the Fishermen run their version of the wing-t offense every year since 1991 and still nobody has devised a defense strong enough to slow down the relentless rushing attack that features an intricate blocking scheme and pin-point precision by all 11 members of the offense. Carrying out a fake is just as important as running with the football.

Add an efficient passing game like the Fishermen had this season with Cahill (who threw 12 touchdown passes to no interceptions this season) and the offense becomes nearly unstoppable.

Their mastery of the offense was on display on Saturday as the Fishermen put on a wing-t clinic when they ran all over Bridgewater-Raynham. Even with the snow falling and the traction limited, the Gloucester offense did not skip a beat.

"They couldn't stop our base offense," Cahill said following the Super Bowl victory. "We blocked up front perfectly and the backs hit the holes hard, it was a big day for the offense."

The last three years have also seen a huge change in the Gloucester High School record book, particularly the rushing and scoring records.

In 2007, senior captain Andrew Fulford shattered Adam Orlando's seven-year-old touchdown record finishing off his career with 58 trips to the end zone, besting the old record by 21 scores.

This season it was Conor Ressel changing the GHS record book. The senior, who did not even play football his sophomore season topped Nick Giacalone's single-season, career and single-game rushing marks set in 2004. Ressel finished off his career with 2,555 rushing yards and 45 touchdowns, which was also good for second-best in school history behind Fulford.

This season was nothing short of astounding for Ressel, as he ran for 1,924 yards and 30 touchdowns, a school-record 257 of those coming in a regular season game with Lynn English. Ressel also wanted the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Despite carrying the ball over 20 times against Westford in the playoffs, Ressel continued to ask for the ball in the Fishermen's game-winning drive. Ressel also came up with the idea to run a swing pass in the Super Bowl, the call resulted in a 28-yard touchdown and gave the Fishermen a 27-7 lead.

"He is such a savvy player," Ingram said. "And a special athlete."

This program happens to be filled with special athletes.

Nick Curcuru can be reached at ncurcuru@gloucestertimes.com.