DANVERS (7-3) at GLOUCESTER (6-4)
Where: New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium, Gloucester, 10 a.m.
All-Time Series: Gloucester leads, 42-19-2. The Thanksgiving series began in 1964, which the Fishermen also lead, 34-15.
Keys to victory for Danvers: The Falcons are at their most successful when their play action is working well, so they’ll try to establish the run early to set up the passing game. The health of All-Conference running back Alex Perry (1,070 yards, 12 TDs) is paramount to the ground game; if the Blue-and-White can’t run, look for Gloucester to blitz constantly. If the run game is working, then junior quarterback Nick Andreas could pick apart the Gloucester secondary. In addition, the Fishermen tend to take a lot of penalties, so Danvers needs to make those hurt.
Key to victory for Gloucester: If the Falcons can’t gang-tackle Jordan Pallazola Thursday, they’ll be in serious trouble. Gloucester’s Wing-T offense is perfect for Pallazola’s bruising running style. The senior (also an All-NEC pick) has rushed for 1,245 yards and 21 TDs this fall while lining up at both running back and fullback, enabling him to execute trap, belly, off-tackle and pitch plays. If Gloucester wins the battle of the big boys up front, they’ll win the game.
Intangibles: The Falcons are smaller and less physical than the hosts in the trenches, so they’ll need to counter that by using smart technique and holding their blocks. If Danvers can do so, then break it to the outside and get into the Gloucester secondary, they’ll be in good shape.
Did you know?: Danvers hasn’t beaten the Fishermen in nine years ... but ironically, that happens to be the only other season the Falcons participated in a playoff game (2004).