A long wait is finally over for the Gloucester football team.
The Fishermen started preseason workouts on August 16; now after two preseason scrimmages and an opening week bye, the Fishermen will finally open up the 2019 season on Friday against Revere at Harry Della Russo Stadium (6:30 p.m.).
Friday's Northeastern Conference crossover game marks the start of a new era as head coach Dan O'Connor makes his debut after being hired this past spring, he takes over for Tony Zerilli, who was at the helm from 2011-18.
After four weeks of preseason preparation, the team is champing at the bit to get on the field and see its first game action.
"With the bye week it has felt like the preseason's been going on forever," senior captain Ben Renales said. "But we've been putting in the work with the new coaching staff and things are looking good. We can't wait to play."
While Gloucester's bye week has made the preseason drag on, there are also some advantages to it. With a new coaching staff working in several new starters on both sides of the ball, it helped everyone become accustomed to one another.
"It helped us get used to each other and gives us a little extra time to build that chemistry," senior captain Jacob Enos said.
While the wait has been long, O'Connor says the team has taken it in stride.
"It's tough because you are obviously excited to get started," he said. "But the kids have continued to work hard at practice. Coach Zerilli told me this is a group that wants to work hard to be a good team and that's exactly what I've seen from them."
On the field, the Fishermen have a mixture of new players and returning veterans.
The offense will have a new look this year with some starters on last year's defense stepping into the starting offense as well.
There are five new starters on the offensive line. Sophomore Anthony Simonelli gets the start at center and is one of Gloucester's biggest players at 6-foot-1, 240 pounds. Senior captain Lawrence Scola and junior Zach Abbott slide into the guard spots. O'Connor credited Scola for his high football I.Q. and Abbott for his high motor. Seniors Patrick Broe and Justin Lavy are the starting tackles and O'Connor called them both weight room warriors.
"We don't have any returners but we're athletic," Scola said of the offensive line. "We've played well together in the preseason."
Renales returns at tight end after leading the team in receiving a year ago with 241 yards on 15 catches with Quinten Ulrich at split end.
In the backfield, senior Sam Ciolino is the starting quarterback. Ciolino was set to start on the defense in 2018 but a preseason injury kept him out for the season. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, Ciolino has a strong arm and can move.
As is the case in the Wing-T offense, Gloucester's running game will be heavily featured with a trio of running backs starting in the backfield.
Senior Daylon Lark is Gloucester's leading returning rusher as he had 517 yards and 5 touchdowns on only 56 carries last year. Lark is moving over from fullback to running back this season. Senior Evan Smith is the starting fullback with senior Harry Marshall at wingback.
"The backfield is looking strong with three seniors," O'Connor said. "From what I've seen on film, Evan has made big improvements from last season. And with Daylon and Harry at running back and wingback it gives us the ability to run plays to all sides and that's key in the Wing-T. And they all want to block so the effort is there even when they don't have the ball."
On the defensive side of the football, Gloucester will be running a 3-4 defense and plans to use a rotation of players in the front seven.
Gloucester's linebacking core features all three senior captains.
Renales is Gloucester's lone returning two-way starter and he moves from defensive end to inside linebacker this season, where he and Scola will get the start. Scola established himself as a very reliable inside linebacker in the second half of 2018.
Enos will be on the outside along with Harry Marshall, a starting outside linebacker in 2018 who is one of Gloucester's best tacklers, and senior Toby Campbell, who played a lot as a junior.
The defensive line will feature several players with Broe, Abbott and Simonelli set to see plenty of downs along with junior Luke Walkama and sophomores Kolby Bolcome and Andrew Gabriele.
Lark is the lone returning starter in the secondary, he moves from cornerback to safety. Smith and junior Jacob Mortillaro will man the cornerback spots with sophomore Aidan Cornetta starting at the other safety.
"We have a good mix of experienced players and newcomers on the defense," O'Connor said. "We are trying to get as many athletes on the field as we can."
Fishermen expect another physical battle from Revere
Friday's opening night opponent is a very familiar one to Gloucester as it played Revere twice in 2018, including a Week 1 win and a Division 4 North Semifinal win.
In both of those games, Gloucester wore down the Patriots, opening up a big lead after a very competitive first half. Both games were also very physical.
"It's always like that when we play them," Renales said. "They're a tough team. We got them in the second half last year but this year we want to get off to a fast start. We have to bring the physicality from the first play on."
Revere has a lot of veterans on both sides of the ball and, like Gloucester, runs the Wing-T. Zach Furlong and Lucas Barbosa are Revere's feature backs while Jonathan Murphy is the team's outside threat both running and receiving after starting at quarterback a year ago.
The Patriots also have size and experience on both lines.
Last year’s record: 9-3 (Division 4 North champs, lost in Division 4 State semifinals)
Head coach: Dan O’Connor (1st season, 0-0)
Team captains: Jacob Enos, Sr. RB/LB; Ben Renales, Sr. TE/LB; Lawrence Scola, Sr. OL/LB.
Top returning rusher: Daylon Lark (56 carries, 517 yards, 5 TDs)
Top returning passer: None
Top returning receiver: Renales (15 catches, 241 yards, 1 TD)
Did you know: Gloucester and Lynn English are playing for the first time since 2015.
(Does not include MIAA playoff dates)
Date Opponent Time
Sept. 13 at Revere 6:30 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Marblehead 7 p.m.
Sept. 27 at Peabody 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 at Lynn English 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 vs. Beverly 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 vs. Lynn Classical 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 vs. Swampscott 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 vs. Danvers 10 a.m.
2019 GLOUCESTER FOOTBALL ROSTER
No. Name Position Grade
2 Aidan Cornetta RB/S Soph.
3 Quinten Ulrich SE/LB Jr.
4 Brett Gaipo QB/S Soph.
6 Sam Ciolino QB/S Sr.
7 Robert Schuster QB/S Soph.
8 Jared Healey WB/CB Fresh.
9 Evan Smith FB/CB Sr.
10 Tristen Mitchell QB/CB Soph.
11 Jayden Elwell WB/S Soph.
12 Toby Campbell WB/LB Sr.
13 Griffin Noble TE/LB Soph.
14 Jeffrey Allen FB/CB Jr.
19 Richard Wilson WB/CB Jr.
20 Joseph Wilson SE/CB Sr.
21 Harry Marshall WB/LB Sr.
22 Daylon Lark RB/S Sr.
25 Caleb Decoste WB/CB Fresh.
27 Frank DeSisto RB/S Fresh.
29 Jacob Enos (C) WB/LB Sr.
30 Jacob Mortillaro WB/CB Jr.
33 Evan Anderson FB/CB Fresh.
35 Jazayah Sainterling RB/LB Soph.
51 Miguel Ceipio OL/DL Soph.
53 Kolby Bolcome OL/DL Soph.
55 Andrew Magnarelli OL/DL Soph.
56 Jared Mercado OL/DL Sr.
59 Patrick Broe OL/DL Sr.
61 Andrew Gabriele OL/DL Soph.
63 Lawrence Scola (C) OL/LB Sr.
64 Justin Lark OL/LB Fresh.
66 Cullin McCormack OL/DL Sr.
68 Luke Walkama OL/DL Jr.
70 Zach Abbott OL/DL Jr.
71 Jason Healey OL/DL Soph.
72 Anthony Simonelli OL/DL Soph.
73 Joshua Concors OL/DL Soph.
75 Daniel Beaton OL/LB Soph.
77 Justin Lavy OL/DL Sr.
80 Nicholas Koros TE/LB Fresh.
82 Daniel Haserlat TE/DE Soph.
87 Ben Renales TE/LB Sr.