, Salem, MA

Sports Special

September 5, 2013

Experienced Gloucester ready to contend again

For the first time in Gloucester head coach Tony Zerilli’s three seasons on the job, his Fishermen open the season with an experienced group of players.

With 13 players who saw time in the starting lineup in 2012 back for another go this fall, the Fishermen are thinking big.

”We’ve come out a lot faster this season because of our experience,” senior captain Drew Shairs said. “We have a lot of seniors who know what they’re doing.”

That experience is especially prevalent in the trenches, as every player returning on the Gloucester offensive and defensive line started at times for the team last season. That includes all five of the Fishermen’s captains, who each started on either the offensive or defensive lines.

Shairs is a force in the middle at defensive tackle, where he was an all-star selection in 2012, commanding double teams on every play. Healso chips in at the strong tackle position. Jason Lattof was another all-star at guard, while Connor Adkins will start at center and defensive tackle. David Dimaio can play both defensive end and defensive tackle, along with tight end and offensive tackle, while Filippo Zappa returns to his starting guard position.

The Fishermen are hoping to win games with a physical running attack. In addition to the majority of its offensive and defensive lines, Gloucester also returns three of its top five rushers from a year ago in Jordan Pallazola, John Curcuru and Jon Good. Ian Kennedy will take over as a first-year starter at quarterback.

On defense Gloucester also returns a wealth of talent, including its entire linebacking core, which was one of the team’s strengths in 2012. Pallazola mans the middle linebacker spot and is flanked by Good and Mike Falzarano, all of whom are tackling machines.

Gloucester, which christens the brand new Newell Stadium tonight (7 p.m.) against Lynn Classical, will set up shop in Division 3 Northeast and the Northeastern Conference Large this fall alongside Beverly, Lynn English, Marblehead and Swampscott.

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