When Gloucester and Lynn Classical meet on the gridiron Saturday at Bishop Fenwick High School (1:00 p.m.) they will do so as near carbon copies of one another in terms of philosophy.
The game plan for both teams on offense and defense is simple. Offensively both teams have the mantra of we are going to run the ball and make you stop us. Of course that means the defensive game plan for both teams is to stop the others vaunted rushing attack.
For Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli, the deciding factor in a game where both teams like to do the same things is simple; who’s tougher?
“This is a toughness matchup,” Zerilli said. “It’s who is tougher than who. We both have good ground games and we’ve stressed to the team this week that it’s all about toughness. Are you going to be tougher than them? If we’re tougher we will win, if they’re tougher they will win.”
Given the fact that both Gloucester (1-4) and Lynn Classical (4-1) have an abundance of tough kids on both sides of the ball, Saturday’s contest has the look of a physical, grinding affair, which is just the way both teams want it.
Gloucester’s front seven will be put to the test again Saturday against a strong Rams offensive line and set of running backs. Lynn Classical runs a double wing system, but not the tight double wing formation that it used to run. The Rams now have a split end and take regular splits on the offensive line. The formation is run very similar to Gloucester’s wing-t offense.
The Rams don’t throw the ball often and love to use backs Justin Avery, Devon Crayton and Brad Scuzzarella out of the running game behind a big and physical offensive line.
“They are going to pound and pound the run, on first, second, third and fourth downs,” Zerilli said. “Their philosophy is just like ours, 3.3 yards per carry and control the clock. They run a lot of down, a lot of off tackle and some option. They like to run behind their big offensive line, it’s going to be a good challenge.”
The Fishermen will be looking to do the same thing on offense but last week they showed they can also throw the football. Quarterback Santo Parisi hit Mark Horgan and Devin Hemeon with several well executed pop passes in last Saturday’s game against Lynn Classical giving defenses something else to think about when planning for the Gloucester offense.
Gloucester’s backfield will have a slightly different look on Saturday. Senior captain Zach Smith, the team’s leading rusher, was out last week and will continue to be out for the foreseeable future with an injury.
Zerilli knows Smith’s 497 yards and four touchdowns (a four game total) will not be replaced with just one person meaning there will be a few new faces in the Fishermen backfield this week. According to Zerilli, Horgan, Jon Good, Jordan Pallazola, Parisi, CJ Cracchiolo, John Curcuru and John Salvi-Souza could all see carries tomorrow afternoon.
With Smith out, Horgan is the team’s leading active rusher with 181 yards and a touchdown from the wing back position, and while Smith being injured is certainly a big blow, the team certainly has other strong options who can step in and produce.
“We have had to look at a few different combos with Smith out of the picture,” Zerilli said. “Some younger kids could get an opportunity and there could be a good mix of six or seven guys seeing carries. It’s not going to be a situation where someone is going to carry the load the way Smith did. We don’t want to throw some of these less experienced runners into the fire so it’s going to be a little bit of a rotation.”