Warriors host Gloucester tomorrow night at Landrigan Field
Published in the November 10, 2016 edition.
By JIM SOUTHMAYD
WAKEFIELD — There is a Wakefield Memorial High-Gloucester High football rivalry, but it is a historic one and not a recent one.
The Warriors and Fishermen meet in a non-playoff game tomorrow night at 7 p.m. at Landrigan Field renewing an old rivalry dating back to the 1940s.
Wakefield increased its record to 5-4 overall with a 13-0 victory over Bedford last week while Gloucester (7-2) had its playoff run come to an end with a 41-26 loss against Marblehead in a Div. 2A North semifinal game last Friday night.
The Warriors and Fishermen haven’t played each other in 20 years as they played a home-and-home non-league series in 1996 and 1997 to fill out an 11-game schedule both seasons. Prior to that, Wakefield and Gloucester were Thanksgiving Day rivals from 1945-1959. The Thanksgiving Day rivalry ended in 1960 when Melrose replaced Gloucester as Wakefield’s current Turkey Day foe.
Wakefield head coach Steve Cummings isn’t too concerned with the history of the Warrior-Fishermen rivalry, but instead he is looking ahead to tomorrow night’s game.
“It’s nice to get a home game. Gloucester will be great competition for us,” said Cummings. “They’ve had a great year and it will be a tough game for us to win. We are going to have to play a good football game to beat them.”
Gloucester won the Northeastern Conference South division with a 5-0 record as the Warriors will be facing another league champion. Gloucester beat Swampscott (32-17), Revere (34-14), Winthrop (48-6), Salem (48-28) and Saugus (49-7) to win its league championship. In its two non-league games, Gloucester edged Lynn Classical, 21-19 and lost to Beverly (28-12).
In the first round of the Div. 2A North playoffs, the Fishermen reeled in Melrose by an 18-6 score.
“They beat Melrose and it will be a good measuring stick for us headed into the Thanksgiving Day game against Melrose,” said Cummings. “They won their league, too, so we know they’re a very good football team.”
The Fishermen are led by senior RB Christian San Filippo who is Gloucester’s all-time leading rusher. Against Melrose, the senior ran for over 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“San Fillippo is a tremendous player. To be able to set a record like that on a Gloucester team that’s had some great teams and went to three straight Super Bowls, he’s a special player,” said Cummings. “Defensively, he is tough to stop. In the Melrose game, they had long drives of 16 and 19 plays with him having most of the runs.”
Gloucester runs the Wing-T offense. The QB, senior Nate Young, is also a threat to run the ball.
“Their quarterback is a threat to run the ball. They don’t pass a lot but when they do they use play action,” said Cummings. “With their fullback and wingback, they like to grind it out. They have a line that can execute. Their line is athletic. Offensively if they catch you sleeping, they’ll throw a pass as a change of pace.”
Senior RB Jermaine Edwards scored on a 16-yard run against Melrose. Last week, sophomore RB Ryan Argentino scored on a four yard run after Gloucester recovered an onside kick. Junior TE Oliver Emerson also caught a 35 yard TD pass from Young in the loss to Marblehead last week.
The one thing Wakefield would like to do this week is finish scoring drives. Last Friday night against Bedford, the Warriors had several opportunities to add to a 7-0 lead but didn’t until late in the contest.
“We dominated field position against Bedford and we only had the one touchdown lead. Our defense shut them down otherwise that could’ve come back to haunt us,” said Cummings. “Against Gloucester we have to be better prepared to cash in when we have the ball in the red zone. We moved the ball from the 20 to the 20 but we need to put points on the board when we have the chance.”
The Warriors certainly don’t shy away from tough competition and are used to playing high caliber opponents. They scheduled both Beverly and Marblehead as non-league opponents. Both are finalists in Div. 2 North and Div. 2A North. Also M.L. Freedom division foes Watertown and Stoneham are in the finals of the Div. 3 North and and Div. 3A North tournaments.
Wakefield also beat a good Bedford team that has a clinched share of the Dual County League title.
“Bedford and Gloucester have a similar number of players. It was nice to come out on top against Bedford last week,” said Cummings. “We had some decent weather and that helped. The weather the previous weeks affected us more than I thought it would. We need to come out early and get some first downs and have some success. Beating a good team does boost your confidence.”
The weather forecast for tomorrow night is dry but chilly weather. So Wakefield won’t have to deal with that. The Warriors are 3-1 at Landrigan Field this season with their lone loss being to Marblehead. So they are hoping the home field advantage will help and they are hoping there will be a big crowd in attendance for the game.
“Gloucester is a really good team. We need to be physically and mentally prepared. If we’re not they can run us off the field,” said Cummings. “It’s going to be a tough game. Our guys need to play well. They know they need to show up and give it their best effort time after time.”
The contest is also a what could’ve been matchup. A win over Winchester in the regular season could’ve resulted in the Warriors hosting Gloucester in a first round playoff matchup. The two teams are being pitted against each other two weeks later than the quarterfinal round and the stakes are a little different now.
A win over the Fishermen will give Wakefield some big momentum headed into the big game against Melrose on Thanksgiving. That will be one of the incentives for the Warriors when they take the field tomorrow night.