Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Football teams stay on top in divisional play

By Jason Brisbois/
Wed Nov 04, 2009, 08:32 PM EST

CAPE ANN - Although Paul Ingram was talking about his team’s chances during this week’s matchup against Revere, the Gloucester High football coach may as well have been talking about both of Cape Ann’s football teams when he uttered the following:

“I think, at this point in time, the kids are going to play hard no matter what,” said Ingram after his team thoroughly dominated Lynn English last week by a 48-7 score. “It’s really irrelevant who we play.”

That seems to be the case as well for the Manchester Essex football team, which put together a 33-0 win over Greater Lowell at Bishop Fenwick High School on Friday night. The Hornets pitched their first shut out of the season, showing that the Hornets can play standout defense for an entire game, an issue that coach Mike Athanas was hoping to resolve after high-scoring affairs for the two weeks leading up to the Greater Lowell game.

“We executed very well on both sides of the ball,” said Athanas. “We’ve been trying to do that all year. It was a nice game for the kids, a nice shutout to go into this week.”

The Fishermen were able to do almost everything they wanted, and barely had to throw a pass to do so. In fact, Glouceser attempted one pass – a halfback option – as the offensive line of Gus Margiotta, Jeff Lane, Ryan Fulford, Andrew Mizzoni and Anthony Latassa paved the way for running back Conor Ressel, who set a school record with 257 yards rushing to go along with three touchdowns.

“We never went into the game anticipating not throwing the ball,” said Ingram. “It started out so well, and we blocked so well and ran so well, and we didn’t get penalties that essentially they couldn’t stop us. We just stayed with our game plan.

The defense did its part as well, holding dangerous Lynn English quarterback Tyllor MacDonald to under 160 yards of total offense on the night.

“Offensively, this was our best game blocking, and defensively, except for the first series and one pass play near the first half, our defense played flawlessly,” said Ingram. “He is quick, and we played that [quarterback Chris] Splinter kid from Masco. They’re both quick, so we know from past experience that we have to get used to the speed of the game and the speed of the player. The kids adjusted when they found out he is really quick, that you’ve got to take better angles and put a lot of pressure on him.”

Manchester Essex’s defensive performance helped the Hornets jump out to an 18-0 lead at the half. Brian Ciccone provided much of the scoring, punching in two touchdowns on the ground and one in the air, with Jack Bishop and Cooper Riehl also reaching the end zone. After the win, Athanas was asked if his team’s defense had turned the corner.

“It looked like it has, but we’ll find out this week,” said the Manchester Essex coach. “We have a tough game coming up, and we can only go off what we did last week. Hopefully, we can carry that over and it gives us some momentum for this week.”

This week, the Hornets (7-1) will host 8-0 Whittier Tech at Ed Field Field on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., while the Fishermen will take their 8-0 record up against Northeastern Conference Large foe Revere (7 p.m., Newell Stadium) on Friday night.

Whittier Tech is a formidable foe, a Commonwealth Conference Large very much in the same vein as Manchester Essex.

“They pose a good challenge,” said Athanas. “They’re 8-0, and they’ve pretty much steamrolled everyone they’ve played so far this year. I don’t think anyone has given them a game yet.”

Whittier runs the single wing, and is quite adept at passing the ball and running the ball. The single wing presents an extra challenge in the amount of time misdirection is used on the field to confuse the defense.

“You can’t get pushed around by them,” said Athanas. “You’ve got to hold your ground and make them bounce it outside. They want to take the ball and run it down your throat, and you’ve got to play disciplined defense, read what you’re supposed to do and make a play.”

Gloucester, meanwhile, will face a Revere squad that has struggled this season. But that doesn’t mean the Fishermen will underestimate their opponents this weekend.

“I was thinking the other day about when we went down to Salem a few years ago and it was supposed to be a lopsided mismatch, and we got out of there with a 7-0 win,” said Ingram. “It was one of those days where nothing went right for us. They don’t have the greatest record, but we respect everybody.”

The Fishermen may have to adjust to Revere’s ability to switch on the fly, whether it’s offense or defense.

‘They try to play a mixture of defenses, so I’m not sure what we’ll see,” said Ingram. “I hate going into a game like that, to have to adjust during the game. But their offense has multiple looks, too. Their number seven is a really good running back, a tall, lanky kid, and they try to get him the ball a lot. We’ll hope to stop him and let somebody else beat us.”

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