The Gloucester football team has moved on to phase two.
After three weeks that saw Gloucester play a pair of team’s universally ranked at the state level and the defending Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Division 1 champions, the Fishermen have entered the second phase of the season with health intact, and three straight games against NEC/CAL Division 1 opponents in Peabody, Masconomet and Lynn Classical respectively before the NEC/CAL Division 2 season begins in week 7.
Phase two of the schedule begins tonight against a struggling Peabody squad. Both the Fishermen and Tanners sport identical 0-3 records while being outscored 112-28 and 149-35 respectively through the first three games of the year. Both teams are desperate for a win and both come into Friday’s game hungry.
Gloucester coach Tony Zerilli is expecting both teams to come out and play with a chip on its shoulder tonight at Coley Lee Field in Peabody (7:00 p.m.).
“(Peabody) had a tough stretch the first week weeks just like we have and both of us are looking to get back on our feet,” Zerilli said. “We did some good things last week, it was close going into the fourth quarter but in the end we’re 0-3 and we still have a lot to prove. Our goal is to prove we are better than our record and I’m expecting the same mentality out of Peabody this week too.”
Gloucester’s game plan tonight is simple, correct the mistakes that have plagued them early this season. The three biggest mistakes have been untimely penalties, allowing big plays and finding the end zone.
The Fishermen have done a lot of things well against strong competition early in the season, but allowing multiple plays of over 40 yards per game, red zone efficiency and mental mistakes have at best case kept the Fishermen from keeping games close and at worst case maybe even kept them out of the win column.
“We schedule these tough teams early so we can see what we need to work on,” Zerilli said. “We still have to face a lot of tough competition this season and we are working on making those corrections.
Mental mistakes are what have been hurting us on both sides of the ball. On offense it’s a penalty or a turnover and on defense it’s one guy being off on his alignment by just a little bit. But this has been a good week of practice. The kids have had an upbeat attitude all week and are working hard to make corrections.”
Tonight Zerilli and the Fishermen are expecting to see plenty off different looks from the Tanners on both sides of the ball.
Last season Peabody played a 5-3 defense against Gloucester, a scheme that was successful on that day and a scheme that Peabody has yet to show this season in favor of a 4-3 look.
On the offensive end the Tanners love to throw multiple looks at defenses including the pistol formation (short shot gun with a rb directly behind the qb), a spread offense and the I formation.
Leading the way for the Tanners offensively is quarterback Cody Wlasuk, a dual threat playmaker who has 299 yards and four touchdown passes in the early going and has racked up some yards on the ground as well.
“Our job on defense will be to contain him,” Zerilli said of the Tanners signal caller. “He makes things happen.”
While the Fishermen will be looking to contain Wlasuk on the defensive end, they will be looking to continue their rushing success on the offensive end. Running back Zach Smith continues to be one of the more prolific runners on the North Shore. Last week Gloucester also received a huge boost in the form of a functioning and successful fullback trap game led by junior Jordan Pallazola. If Gloucester can continue to gain big chunks of yards from the running back and fullback positions there offense is going to be difficult to contain.
1. Eliminate Mental Mistakes- Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli stressed this as the most important key to victory. Mental mistakes (untimely penalties, blown assignments) have plagued Gloucester in the first three weeks and the Lynn English and Weymouth games could have had a different feel without them. If Gloucester stays disciplined tonight they will be in good shape. 2. Dominate the line of scrimmage- Gloucester's lines have been rock solid this fall against three lines with significant size advantages. Peabody is not as strong up front as Lynn English, Andover or Weymouth and Gloucester is looking to dominate the line of scrimmage. 3. Eliminate Turnovers- It's not that Gloucester has been turning the ball over at an abundant pace this season, but those turnovers have come at costly times and have killed a few impressive drives. If the Fishermen hold onto the ball tonight they should find the end zone regularly.