After tonight’s non-league tilt with Weymouth the Gloucester football will have been through the gauntlet.
Nobody in the 24 team four team, four tiered Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League has played a more difficult schedule to start the season than the Fishermen, who opened the season against defending Northeastern Conference/Cape Ann League Division 1 champions Lynn English and played state ranked Andover in week two.
In week three Gloucester faces Weymouth, another tough team in its brutal schedule over the first three weeks.
The Fishermen (0-2) have taken a few lumps over the first two weeks but a difficult early season schedule could have some positive long term effects.
In just two weeks Gloucester has already faced some of the best athlete’s in the area and have faced team’s who know how to win and execute at a high level, meaning Gloucester now knows what it takes to execute at a high level, it’s all they’ve seen and all they will continue to see through the season’s first three weeks.
The Fishermen will play the final eight weeks of the season with the toughest part of their schedule already behind them. Cutting their teeth against titans week after week will only make the team better, and it could give them an advantage against teams their size that have not gone through the shark tank the Fishermen have in the first three weeks.
“That’s why we schedule these types of teams, it only helps us in the long run,” Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli said after last week’s 43-7 loss to Andover. “We had a tough time (with Andover) but at the same time we got to play against a great team and see them execute. After (this week against Weymouth) we will be playing teams that are more our size and these tough games help us prepare for that.”
Tonight’s opponent, Weymouth, who is 2-0 playing out of the Bay State League’s Carey Division sporting a 35-7 win over Milton and a 31-20 win over Wellesley, has a lot in common with Gloucester’s last two opponents.
It may only be week three but Gloucester will already be facing its third team that runs the spread offense, and the third team that has an explosive option at a skilled position. An explosive player at a skilled position that has a history of success against the Fishermen.
It was Lynn English’s Josh Batista that gave Gloucester trouble in week one running for 128 yards on four carries, he has scored three times against Gloucester in each of the last two years. In week two it was Andover’s Will Heikkinen in the passing game catching nine balls for almost 180 yards a year after giving Gloucester trouble during a Newell Stadium meeting.
Tonight it will be Weymouth’s Ozzy Colarusso that Gloucester must be wary of. The wide receiver torched the Fishermen in Weymouth’s 28-0 win at Newell Stadium as he took the opening kickoff 90 yards to the house and put his blazing speed on display in his 44 yard touchdown catch and run.
For the third week in a row Gloucester is playing a team that can score, and score quickly.
But facing potent spread offenses should help Gloucester in the season’s stretch run, as three of its five NEC/CAL Division 2 opponents run the spread, and those teams can not match the athletes that Lynn English, Andover and Weymouth put out on the field.
The NEC/CAL Division 2 season does not begin until week 7 for Gloucester, but one thing is certain, when the Fishermen get there they will be battle tested and prepared for the best.