The Salem News
---- — Five things you should know heading into tomorrow’s annual Danvers/Gloucester Thanksgiving clash:
1. Time to end the streak. Since a championship-winning upset over the Fishermen in 2004, the Blue-and-White have lost seven straight games to Gloucester — by an aggregate score of 239-63. That fact alone should be more than enough to fire up the Falcons on Thursday morning.
2. November momentum. Both squads are playing some of their best football in the regular season’s final month: Gloucester has won its last two contests convincingly after a 1-7 start, while Danvers is one gadget play away from taking a three-game winning streak into the holiday.
3. Get the ball to Valles early and often. Junior Alex Valles has torn it up over the last three games, rushing for 413 yards and nine TDs while returning a kickoff 85 yards for another touchdown. While Danvers will want to mix it up — with carries for fullback Alex Grant and speedster John Thomas while quarterback Nick Andreas throws passes to Alex Cawlina & Co. — getting the pigskin in Valles’ hands is Priority No. 1.
4. Hats on the ball. In four of the Falcons’ five victories, you can point to a big defensive stand or play that helped pave the way to victory. This unit, spearheaded by defensive demon Duncan D’Hemecourt, has to be ready for Gloucester’s grind-it-out attack, with pop passes mixed in, and employ a bend-but-don’t-break mentality.
5. Follow the leader(s). Danvers captains Connor Morrison, Joe Manson, Cawlina and Grant would love to end their high school careers by giving their team just its second winning season in the last seven. If the squad can follow Morrison’s mantra of “all in,” the Falcons could be looking at ending their holiday losing streak.