By Nick Curcuru
---- — In the game of football, the ball carriers may get most of the glory, but the success of the team always starts up front with its offensive and defensive lines.
This fall, the Gloucester football team is taking that philosophy to the next level, as all five of its senior captains are linemen. Drew Shairs returns to the team at offensive and defensive tackle, Filippo Zappa and Jason Lattof are back at guard and tackle respectively, David Dimaio returns at defensive end and center, while Connor Adkins moves to tight end after playing center in 2012.
“Obviously the line’s the best position on the team,” Zappa joked.
“It’s a pretty cool situation because the linemen usually don’t get as much credit,” Lattof said. “But all five of us have taken ownership of the team and become leaders.”
The leadership skill, work ethic and results on the field saw their teammates vote them in as captains, and in the offseason the quintet has been up to the task in terms of leadership. As soon as the 2012 season ended in December and the five were named captains, all got to work immediately encouraging teammates to get into the weight room and work on their conditioning.
The captains also went out and recruited some athletes within the school that had not played football, and as a result a few new seniors joined the squad and have made an early impact.
“I think we got five really good captains, guys who have been committed to this program for a long time and have been committed in the offseason to make the team better,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said. “I’m really proud of the work they’ve put in and it started in December.”
With five captains, you naturally get five different personalities, which has worked in Gloucester’s favor during the preseason.
You have your vocal leaders in Lattof and Dimaio, your quieter, lead by example guys in Adkins and Zappa, and a mix between the two in Shairs.
Generously listed on the roster at 6’ 175, Lattof is giving up size to his opponent on just about every play, but the senior captain brings plenty of bark and bite to his game which earned him a spot on the Northeastern Conference All Star team last fall.
Dimaio and Shairs each established themselves as defensive forces last season and the two look to be one of the more feared defensive line duos in the Northeastern Conference this fall. Shairs was named an All Star defensive tackle last season, he has also established himself as a bookend offensive tackle and has drawn praise from Zerilli for coming out of his shell as a senior and becoming a vocal leader.
“We have a mix of personalities which is great for the team,” Zerilli said. “One thing they all have in common is that they all play hard with everything they have and they always give us what we need. You have a few guys who are loud and lead vocally on the field in Lattof and Dimaio, a few quieter guys who lead by example in Adkins and Zappa, and Shairs is kind of a mix between the two. We need that mix and all five captains are good at getting their teammates to rally around them. Most importantly, they understand what it means to be a Fishermen and the philosophy of Fishermen football.”
Zappa and Adkins may be men of fewer words than their fellow captains, but both let their play on the field do the talking, and it rallies their teammates just as well as an inspirational speech. Zappa is a prototypical guard in Gloucester’s wing-t formation as he is not going to stand out in terms of size (5’11” 190), but he more than makes up for that with quick feet, deceptive strength and tons of heart.
Adkins, on the other hand, looks the part of a linemen, at 6’1” 195 he gives Gloucester another tackle on the end of the line with hands, and another big body on the defensive line.
“Phil and Connor talk with their pads,” Shairs said. “We all lead in different ways. Those two do everything right on the field and we all follow that lead.”
In his third year as Gloucester head coach, Zerilli enters the regular season for the first team with an experienced bunch and a large senior class. Gloucester has 19 seniors on its roster, several with quality varsity experience, and that playing experience has the team thinking big.
“Our goal is to hold the championship trophy at Gillette Stadium,” Shairs said. “We know it’s going to be really tough and we have to go out there every week and earn it but the expectations are high.”
The Fishermen have eight starters returning on offense and several more on the defensive end, and that’s before noting the players who were backups in 2012 but played significant snaps and are starting in 2013.
On offense, Gloucester returns four starting linemen in Lattof, Zappa, Shairs and senior Jack Goss while Adkins moves to tight end after starting at center last season. Junior Robert Gwinn steps in as the starting center.
“We jumped into the playbook right away because we have so many returning players,” Lattof said. “We were able to help the younger kids get up to speed because we know the offense so well. The experience really helped us get off to a fast start in the preseason.”
In the backfield, Gloucester also has players returning with experience as fullback Jordan Pallazola and running back John Curcuru are the team’s leading returning rushers amassing 467 and 375 yards rushing respectively last season after breaking into the starting lineup over the second half of the year. Senior Connor Harris moves to wing back after starting at split end last season and junior Mike Decaro will start at split end.
The Fishermen will be breaking in a new quarterback this fall as senior Ian Kennedy, last year’s backup, moves into the starting role and has jumped right into the fold.
“We are really progressing quickly on offense,” Zerilli said. “The offense usually takes a little longer to get in synch but with the whole line coming back, our starting fullback and running back from the end of last season coming back and a wing back who started at split end last year, we are well ahead of where we would normally be. Kennedy is a first year starter but he is also showing great progress in scrimmages and at practice which is great to see.”
Defensively the Fishermen will be led by the trio of Shairs, Dimaio and Pallazola, all three were standouts in 2012 giving the team a nucleus to build around. Junior Nick Sanfilippo, who saw significant action off the bench as a sophomore, and senior Joe Petrilli, playing for the first time since his freshman year, round out the defensive line. Decaro and John Salvi-Souza will flank Pallazola at linebacker while Terrance Lane will also see action at the position.
Harris, Lattof, Curcuru, Alex Enes, Mike Sheehan and first year senior Eli Horne will all see action in the secondary.
“Defensively we have the strong nucleus of Shairs, Dimaio and Pallazola,” Zerilli said. “And we have reloaded in a few spots, the others are filling in nicely around them.”
2013 Gloucester Football Schedule Date Opponent Time Friday, September 6 vs. Lynn Classical 7:30 p.m. Friday, September 13 vs. Salem 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 20 at Masconomet 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 27 vs. Beverly 7:00 p.m.* Friday, October 4 at Marblehead 7:00 p.m.* Friday, October 11 vs. Lynn English 7:00 p.m.* Saturday, October 19 at Swampscott 2:00 p.m.* Friday, October 25 bye Friday, November 1 playoffs begin Thursday, November 25 vs. Danvers 10:00 a.m.** *Conference Game **Thanksgiving Day
2013 Gloucester Football Roster No. Name Position Class Height Weight 2 Jordan Pallazola RB/LB Sr. 5'11" 220 4 Drew Luster SE/CB Sr. 5'10" 150 5 Joe Petrilli WB/DE Sr. 6'1" 170 7 Tyler Favaloro TE/DE Sr. 6'1" 175 8 Mike Cody QB/LB Soph. 5'8" 150 9 Ian Kennedy QB/CB Sr. 5'10" 150 10 Cameron Reeve QB/LB Jr. 6' 180 11 Terrance Lane RB/CB Jr. 5'9" 160 12 Michael Guglielmi TE/LB Jr. 6'1" 180 14 Elijah Horne SE/S Sr. 5'10" 147 15 Patrick Titus WB/LB Sr. 5'9" 165 16 Mike Sheehan SE/LB Sr. 6'1" 180 21 Aidan Fitzgerald RB/CB Soph. 5'10" 160 22 John Philpott TE/DE Soph. 6' 165 24 Alex Militello RB/S Soph. 5'10" 155 25 Derek Morris RB/CB Jr. 5'8" 160 26 Guilherme Spairani SE/S Soph. 5'7" 130 28 Mike Decaro SE/S Jr. 5'9" 165 31 Conor Harris WB/CB Sr. 5'8" 140 34 Patrick Goss RB/LB Soph. 5'4" 120 35 Tyler Meunsaveng RB/LB Soph. 5'5" 130 38 Alex Enes RB/LB Soph. 5'8" 160 40 Jon Good FB/LB Sr. 6'1" 180 44 Connor Adkins (C) TE/DE Sr. 6'1" 195 47 John Curcuru RB/S Sr. 5'8" 160 48 Andrew Latassa RB/LB Soph. 5'9" 150 50 David Dimaio (C) C/DE Sr. 6'3" 260 51 Filippo Zappa (C) G/DE Sr. 5'11" 190 52 Jake Latassa C/LB Sr. 5'10" 195 53 Jack Goss G/LB Sr. 5'11" 200 54 Nick Muise G/T Jr. 5'11" 210 55 Thomas Donahue G/LB Soph. 5'9" 170 56 Jason Lattof (C) G/LB Sr. 6' 175 57 Soren Ruvolo G/LB Sr. 5'8" 165 58 Adrian Gedney T/DE Jr. 5'11" 170 59 Owen Parisi T/LB Jr. 5'11" 170 61 Peter Pereira G/T Jr. 5'3" 135 62 Jacob Emerson T/T Soph. 6'2" 230 63 Jason Erwin G/LB Jr. 5'7" 165 65 Tyler Lucas T/T Jr. 6'1" 230 67 Cameron Laduke T/DE Soph. 6'1" 180 68 Alec Dupont G/T Soph. 5'9" 160 70 Andrew Amaral C/DT Soph. 5'11" 240 72 Robert Gwinn T/T Jr. 5'11" 175 75 Josiah Silva T/DT Jr. 5'9" 215 76 Jeffrey St. Peter G/DE Soph. 5'11" 180 77 Ryan Hilshey C/T Jr. 6' 220 79 Drew Shairs (C) T/DT Sr. 6'3" 290 85 Jake Schrock TE/DE Soph. 6' 170