The slogan on the back of the Gloucester football team's practice t-shirts reads, "Success is not given, it's earned."
Last Friday, the Fishermen started the journey to earn their success in the 2019 season, and it starts a new era with a new head coach at the helm. Dan O'Connor, 34, officially started his first preseason workouts with the team. He takes over for Tony Zerilli, who coached the team from 2011-18.
With four practices under their belt, O'Connor likes the way his team has been working so far.
"The energy and the hard work are there right now," he said. "I'm a new coach and I do a few things a little differently so there's definitely a learning curve with all of us, but we're all working hard right now to be where we need to be."
With a first year head coach and a relatively inexperienced roster featuring six returning starters from 2018 with a total of about 40 kids in the program as a whole, the focus has been on learning in the first few days of practice.
Gloucester has not yet come out in full pads, just helmets or helmets and shoulder pads have been the attire, and the team has been stressing fundamentals and terminology in the early going.
"We're trying to establish the base of what we want to do," O'Connor said. "Offensively, these kids know the system and have played in the system and we are brushing up on it. We are laying down the groundwork for what we want to do this season.
There's talent here, we won't have the deepest roster and we don't have a ton of experience but there's talent to work with and they're already showing that they want to work."
Gloucester will still be running the Wing-T offense under O'Connor, who played in the system at Gloucester, starting on the 2001 and 02 teams. He also served as an assistant coach in the program in 2010 and 2011 under Paul Ingram and Zerilli.
Senior captains Jacob Enos, Ben Renales and Lawrence Scola lead the team into the season.
"The older guys have been great," O'Connor said. "They're keeping the younger kids on the same page and they're helping everyone get work through it together."
The Fishermen do not open up regular season action until Friday, September 13 at Revere (7 p.m.), the first of four straight road games to open up the season, but they will see their first game action on Saturday with a scrimmage at Winthrop.
The plans is to come out in full pads for the first time on Thursday in anticipation of Saturday's scrimmage.