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Thanksgiving Game Preview

Salem News

DANVERS (6-4) at GLOUCESTER (6-4)
Thursday, 10 a.m.
at Newell Stadium, Gloucester

All-time series: Gloucester 37-16
Recent streaks: The home team has won each of the last four games in the series, with Danvers picking up the most recent win, 41-27, last year. The Falcons are searching for a second straight win over Gloucester, something they haven’t done since 1993-94.

Leading rushers: DANVERS: Matt McCarthy (74 carries, 460 yards, 4 TDs), Tahg Coakley (67 carries, 370 yards, 6 TDs), Justin Mullaney (65 carries, 243 yards, 4 TDs); GLOUCESTER: Jan Pena-Ortiz (100 carries, 671 yards, 5 TDs), Ryan Argentino (86 carries, 443 yards, 6 TDs), Marc Smith (51 carries, 353 yards, 3 TDs).
Leading passers: DANVERS: Justin Mullaney (72-for-141, 860 yards, 8 TDs);

GLOUCESTER: Matt Smith (12-for-41, 210 yards, 2 TDs).
Leading receivers: DANVERS: Colby Holland (31 catches, 332 yards, 1 TD), Tahg Coakley (19 catches, 206 yards, 2 TDs), Matt McCarthy (10 catches, 205 yards, 1 TD); GLOUCESTER: Ollie Emerson (8 catches, 166 yards, 1 TD), Marc Smith (5 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD) Jan Pena-Ortiz (2 catches, 77 yards, 2 TDs).
Intangibles: Thursday’s game looks like a matchup of strength vs. strength as both squads will attempt to control the clock and ride its physicality to a victory … Both teams run ball control offenses, but Danvers throws about twice as much as Gloucester does. In last year’s Thanksgiving win, the passing game helped lead the Falcons to an early lead and a eventual comfortable win … Offensively, both teams like to spread the wealth as Danvers relies on Matt McCarthy and Tahg Coakley, while Gloucester will ride all four of its backs, including quarterback Matt Smith … While the Fishermen share the load, junior Jan Pena-Ortiz has established himself as the team’s go-to back. He has led the team in rushing a team high six times this season … Colby Holland and captain Zach Dillon are tied with a team-leading 62 tackles for Danvers, with Justin DiTomaso close behind with 56 … Franco Abbatessa has a team-leading nine tackles-for-loss for the Falcons. Almany Vargas leads the club with four sacks, while Matt McCarthy has the same number of interceptions.
Danvers seniors: Franco Abbatessa, OT/LB; Andrew Brennan, OL/DL; Tahg Coakley, WR/DB; Dominic Colella, TE/DL; Zach Dillon, TE/LB; Isaac Downs, TE/DB; Colby Holland, RB/DB; Kyle Hopkins, OL/DL; Justin Mullaney, QB; Matt Reidy, WR/DB.
Gloucester seniors: Cody Burke, TE/CB; Ollie Emerson, TE/LB; Kevin Gabriele, G/DE; Carlos Hernandez, G/DE; John John Mondello, RB/LB; Brandon Rivera, SE/CB; A.J. Romeo-Oliver, RB/CB; Tony Petrilli, DT; Ryan Sanfilippo, OL/DL; Matt Smith, QB/S.

DANVERS STARTING OFFENSE
No. Pos. Name Year
11 WR Matt Reidy Sr.
50 LT Franco Abbatessa Sr.
54 LG Andrew Brennan Sr.
55 C Tom Walfield Soph.
51 RG Andrew Chronis Fr.
57 RT Ron Remotigue Jr.
5 WR Matt McCarthy Jr.
2 QB Justin Mullaney Sr.
21 FB Colby Holland Sr.
7 TB Tahg Coakley Sr.

DANVERS STARTING DEFENSE
No. Pos. Name Year
50 DE Franco Abbatessa Sr.

55 NT Tom Walfield Soph.
57 DE Ron Remotigue Jr.
12 OLB Justin DiTomaso Jr.
43 ILB Alex Lemmi Jr.
10 ILB Zach Dillon Sr.
3 OLB Almany Vargas Jr.
5 CB Matt McCarthy Jr.
1 CB Ezra Lombardi Soph.
21 SS Colby Holland Sr.
7 FS Tahg Coakley Sr.

GLOUCESTER STARTING OFFENSE
No. Pos. Name Year
2 TE Ollie Emerson Sr.
61 T Ryan Sanfilippo Sr.
52 G Kevin Gabriele Sr.
60 C Joseph Ciarametaro Jr.
58 G Carlos Hernandez Sr.
64 T Noah Benson Jr.

7 SE Cody Burke Sr.
32 WB Marc Smith Jr.
8 RB Ryan Argentino Jr.
28 RB Jan Pena-Ortiz Jr.
13 QB Matt Smith Sr.

GLOUCESTER STARTING DEFENSE
No. Pos. Name Year
58 DE Carlos Hernandez Sr.
5 DT Tony Petrilli Sr.
61 DT Ryan Sanfilippo Sr.
52 DE Kevin Gabriele Sr.
21 LB Harry Marshall Soph.
8 LB Ryan Argentino Jr.
2 LB Ollie Emerson Sr.
24 CB Brandon Rivera Sr.
17 S A.J. Romeo-Oliver Sr.
32 S Marc Smith Sr.
28 CB Jan Pena-Ortiz Jr.

“ROLE REVERSAL: Danvers plays tough in all three phases, upends Lynn Classical”

Salem News: Matt Williams

LYNN — Three weeks ago, the Danvers High football team was pushed around in suffering its first loss of the season against Lynn Classical.

Friday night in the first round of the Division 3 North playoffs against that same Rams team, the Falcons were resolute in their determination not to let that happen again.
Executing all three of head coach Ryan Nolan’s keys to the game — ball security, special teams and physicality — No. 6 seed Danvers upended No. 3 Classical, 21-7, Friday night at Manning Field to advance to the sectional semi’s for a third straight season.

“It’s not very often that you get another chance to play a team that already beat you,” said Danvers senior captain Zach Dillon. “We knew it was something we had to take advantage of. We beat each other up all week in practice to get ready for this and it paid off.”
How did Danvers (6-2 and facing the winner of Saturday’s Tewksbury/Concord-Carlisle clash next week) get the better of the Rams (also 6-2)? It started with tough, disciplined defense: the Falcons did not allow Rams QB Keith Ridley — who burned them for 180 yards in the first meeting — to get outside the pocket, instead forcing him to throw down the field.

When he did, senior Isaac Downs (interception) and Matt McCarthy (interception) were solid in coverage. Dillon and Franco Abbatessa did a good job turning back interior runs and Almany Vargas did a great job with containing the edge.

“It wasn’t any kind of gameplan or change,” Nolan said of the difference for his defense. “All week, our assistant coaches honed in on the fundamentals. We were disciplined and everybody stuck to their assignments.”

Special teams was a huge benefit for Danvers, which had a tangible advantage in field position thanks to booming punts unleashed by Dillon. That led to short field which the Falcons were happy to cash in on: the first score came on a one-yard Justin Mullaney plunge on a drive that began at the 34 — set up by Dillon pinning Classical at its own 1-yard line.

“I keep it simple and try to kick it as far as I can,” said Dillon, who pinned Classical at its own 5-yard line later in the game, leading to another short Ram punt and another 35-yard Danvers scoring drive. “When you have athletes like Tahg Coakley and Matt McCarthy gunning down there, you kick and they’re going to be able to make things happen.”

Coakley, who ran for a game-high 66 yards, scored from 17 yards out on a burst up the gut just four snaps after Mullaney made it 7-0. Dillon recovered a Rams fumble on the ensuing drive and in a span of just 1:12, the Falcons had a 14-0 lead.

The Rams got on the board early in the third when Tyrese Joseph hauled in a 63-yard TD pass from Ridley (16-of-29, 145 yards). Danvers stretched out the lead after some razzle-dazzle action on a fake field goal. Mullaney, the holder, rolled out and hit Colby Holland for the first down on fourth and eight, setting up Coakley’s second rushing score for a 21-7 lead.

From there, the Falcon defense took over. Abbatessa had two tackles for loss, Downs made his interception early in the fourth quarter and Holland ended a Classical drive with a sack to essentially put the win away with just over four minutes to go.

“We played the way we want Danvers football to be identified: tough, physical, smart and unselfish,” said Nolan, whose team was marginally outgained 241-189 in total yards but led in turnovers (3-to-1) and forced the Rams go the length of the field by executing in the kicking game.

“The kids sold out for this game and they played physical football. It was a total team effort. Classical’s great and they’re big, but our kids stuck their noses in there, put body-on-body and hung tough.”

Classical, which has made the playoffs three times under the new format but has yet to win, was also hampered by seven penalties for 70 yards, most of which came in the first half. It was the first career playoff win for first-year head coach Nolan, and Danvers has now won a postseason game in each of the last three seasons.

“It feels great. We had what, two starters back from last year?,” said Dillon. “To win a playoff game shows how hard everyone’s worked and how much the young guys have stepped it up.”