By Nick Curcuru
---- — The 2010 Gloucester football team was supposed to run the table and win the Division 1A Super Bowl.
With several starters returning from the 2009 unbeaten Super Bowl team, the pressure was on the Fishermen in 2010, and they wouldn’t have had it any other way. The 2010 team was used to being the top dog, in fact being on top was the only role it had ever played as Gloucester won the NEC title and qualified for the playoffs each of the three previous seasons.
No Gloucester team entered the start of the season with more pressure on it than the 2010 team, it was supposed to keep the streak of Super Bowl berths going.
“The three years prior we were the team to beat so going into that season expectations were even higher,” said Joey Avila, Gloucester’s starting quarterback that season. “We definitely felt that pressure, we couldn’t lose or we would be considered a disappointment. But we played every game like it was our last and took it one game at a time which really helped us.”
By the time the 2010 season came to an end, Gloucester lived up to its expectations capping off the program’s second straight 13-0 season with its second straight win over Bridgewater-Raynham in the Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
It also capped off the most successful run in program history. Four straight trips to the Super Bowl, three Super Bowl titles and a 50-2 record make the seniors on the 2010 team the most successful senior class the school has seen.
Gloucester took home the 2010 Division 1A Super Bowl title with a blend of talent, experience and depth. A strong senior class of 22 players gave head coach Paul Ingram mature, experienced starters and backups on both sides of the ball. The Fishermen had seniors starting at 20 of the 22 positions, 14 of those spots were filled by returning starters.
There were no weaknesses to be found on both the offense and defense in 2010.
Offensively the team set a new school record scoring 427 points (32.8 ppg). Gloucester eclipsed the 35 point mark eight times while reaching the 40 point mark five times.
Senior fullback Jordan Shairs led Gloucester’s patented running attack out of the wing-t offense having one of the most prolific seasons in school history rushing for 1,400 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season. Seniors Gilbert Brown, a captain, along Ben Chianciola and Brandon Cusumano were the teams next three leading rushers.
The Fishermen also had a potent passing attack that season, which was on display in the Super Bowl against Bridgewater-Raynham. Avila was a first year starter but he didn’t play like it throwing for 1,092 yards and eight touchdowns. He was Gloucester’s first 1,000 yard passer in just under a decade. Cusumano, Brown, Adam Philpott and senior captains Chris Unis and Mike Tomaino were Avila’s top targets in the passing game. Cusumano leading the way with 18 receptions for 463 yards.
Gloucester’s line was equally intimidating starting with senior Anthony Lattassa at center, who played every position on both the offensive and defensive lines in his junior and senior seasons combined. Seniors Zach Bettencourt and Marc Sutera manned the guard positions while senior captain Andrew Mizzoni and junior Matt Taormina were the tackles.
On the defensive side of the ball Gloucester was simply dominant through all three layers.
The Fishermen defensive line was unstoppable when clicking on all cylinders as all four players demanded extra attention. Unis and Mizzoni gave the Fishermen one of the most feared defensive end combinations in the state. Seniors Latassa and Bryan Ingersoll, a first year starter who ended up being a Northeastern Conference All Star, manned the middle.
Brown, Shairs and Burke compiled a hard hitting linebacker unit while Philpott, Tomaino, Cusumano and Chianciola gave the Fishermen one of the most productive secondaries the school has ever seen.
“We had seniors all over the lineup,” Avila said. “That’s what made the team so special. Everybody stuck it out, even those who didn’t get a ton of playing time. We were a close bunch and we all wanted to win for each other.”
At season’s end Gloucester had eight players named to the Northeastern Conference All Star team. Shairs was named NEC MVP while Unis, Mizzoni, Brown, Cusumano, Philpott, Latassa and Ingersoll were All Stars.
Gloucester opened the season with a 41-24 win over Swampscott and followed it up with a huge statement in Week 2 against Andover.
The Fishermen pounded the Golden Warriors 38-13, a Division 1 team that resides in the Merrimack Valley Conference, one of the deepest and most powerful conferences in the state. Andover would qualify for the Division 1 playoffs that year by winning the MVC.
A shutout win over Winthrop followed moving the team to 3-0 heading into a tough stretch against Beverly and Masconomet.
Gloucester topped Beverly 38-6 but the game was a bit of a struggle as Gloucester held a 14 point lead with just six minutes to play in the game. The following week against Masconomet the Chieftains also hung around giving the heavily favored Fishermen a tough game finishing with an 18-7 Gloucester win.
The Fishermen were winning games, sitting at 6-0, but they knew they had room for improvement.
“We were undefeated but we weren’t winning the way we wanted to and it kind of gave us a wake up call,” Avila said. “It was the Peabody game where we turned it around. That’s when we really showed everyone what we were made of. Once we got going there was no stopping us.”
Gloucester topped Peabody in impressive fashion 42-0 and went on to pull away from a very good Lynn English team the following week 50-29. The Bulldogs had the most high powered offense in the NEC aside from the Fishermen, who rode Shairs to a record setting six touchdown, 247 yard game that included 199 yards in the second half alone.
The Fishermen turned aside Revere the next week setting up what seemed like an annual Gloucester vs. Lynn Classical game with the Northeastern Conference Large title and a berth in the Division 1A playoffs on the line.
What ensued was yet another instant classic in the long line of incredible games between the two rivals. The teams traded blows in a defensive struggle and were tied at 7-7 when Gloucester finally caught a break. Lynn Classical was set to punt and an errant snap flew over the punters head and was downed inside the five yard line.
Gloucester quickly punched it into the end zone for a 14-7 lead, which held to the end giving the Fishermen another Northeastern Conference Large crown and a fourth straight trip to the postseason. It was the only time all season Gloucester was held under 20 points, but the Fishermen defense held strong.
“That was the game of the season right there,” Avila said. “Senior night, home field with a playoff spot on the line. The emotions for that game were so high I don’t even know how to explain it. We knew that was the best team we were going to play all year including the playoffs and the Super Bowl and it was.”
The Fishermen shutout Danvers on Thanksgiving setting up a Division 1A playoff tilt against Lincoln-Sudbury. The MIAA inadvertently gave Gloucester a little extra motivation by scheduling the contest at Lincoln-Sudbury High School despite the fact that Gloucester was 11-0 and Lincoln-Sudbury was 8-3. Playoffs are also supposed to be played on neutral sites and the fact that their opponent was awarded a home game irked the Fishermen.
“It was kind of funky having to go to their home field and it put a little fire in us,” Avila said.
Avila and company showed that fire early scoring on their first two possessions, but the Lincoln-Sudbury defense was tough allowing just one more score the entire game. Still, the Gloucester defense was even tougher pitching another shutout for a 21-0 win earning a fourth straight trip to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.
Lincoln-Sudbury ran the wing-t offense, but elected to switch to the spread in the playoffs. When asked about the switch of scheme after the game head coach Tom Lopez was brutally honest saying his team could not run the wing-t effectively against gloucester because they couldn’t match Gloucester’s toughness.
The shutout win in the playoffs led to a rematch in the Division 1A Super Bowl with Bridgewater-Raynham. The Trojans were a confident bunch heading into the showdown as there was no snow on the ground, which worked in Gloucester’s favor the previous year, and they had been waiting an entire year to get another crack at the Fishermen, who beat them 33-13 the .
“We knew they wanted us and they were going to come in with all the intensity in the world,” Avila said. “They were a solid team but it didn’t matter, we were too strong.”
While the Trojans hung around in the first half of the 2009 meeting, Gloucester put them away early opening up a 21-6 halftime led by an Avila touchdown pass to Cusumano and touchdown runs from Shairs and Brown.
Avila was quick to credit his coaching staff including Ingram, Tom Walsh and Tony Zerilli, for putting the team in a position to win.
“We were more prepared,” Avila said. “You can have all the talent in the world like we did, but the coaches need to put you in the right positions and they did every week. We were all well prepared as we could be every week.”
When the final seconds ran off the scoreboard at Gillette Stadium Gloucester wasn’t just celebrating another Super Bowl title, it was celebrating the most successful run of dominance in the program’s storied history. Four Super Bowl appearances, three Super Bowl titles, a 50-2 record over a four year span had not been done before.
“To say that we went 50-2 through four years is pretty unbelievable,” Avila said. “Nobody can ask for anything better than that, it was such an awesome run.”
2010 Gloucester Football Schedule Gloucester 41 Swampscott 24 Gloucester 38 Andover 13 Gloucester 36 Winthrop 0 Gloucester 38 Beverly 6 Gloucester 24 Salem 13 Gloucester 18 Masconomet 7 Gloucester 42 Peabody 0 Gloucester 50 Lynn English 29 Gloucester 42 Revere 18 Gloucester 43 Danvers 0 Gloucester 21 Lincoln-Sudbury 0* Gloucester 34 Bridgewater-Raynham 13** *Division 1A Playoffs **Division 1A Super Bowl