HITTING THE ROAD: Gloucster, ME looking to keep it rolling in Week 3

·6 min read

Sep. 23—Both Gloucester and Manchester Essex hit the road in Week 3 for a non-league game.

The Fishermen travel to Weston on Friday night (7 p.m.) for the first ever meeting between the two schools while Manchester Essex is in Commonwealth Conference crossover action for the second straight week, traveling to Greater Lowell on Friday (6 p.m.).

Both matchups look like they could be a good test for the local teams on paper.

Gloucester and Weston both enter Friday's game at 1-1, both losing a tight one in Week 1 and winning via blowout in Week 2. Manchester Essex, on the other hand, is on a roll with a 2-0 record and 83 points scored in the first two weeks. The Hornets meet a Greater Lowell squad that is 1-1 coming off of a 10-7 win over Wilmington in Week 2.

Here's a look at what to expect from each matchup.

GLOUCESTER (1-1) AT WESTON (1-1), FRIDAY (7 P.M.)

When Gloucester has the ball: The Fishermen have done a good job establishing the run game in each of the first two weeks and take on a Weston team that been vulnerable in the first two weeks, averaging 23.5 points against in the early stages of the season. The Wildcats frequently put eight men in the box in last week's win over a run-heavy Bay Path Regional squad so Gloucester should expect a lot of bodies at or near the line of scrimmage again this week in an attempt to slow down the run game. Senior captain Frank DeSisto has established himself as Gloucester's feature back with Caleb DeCoste also seeing frequent carries both from a slot wing and a running back spot. The Fishermen have found success in the early stages of the season softening teams up inside then attacking the edge. The key, as usual, for Gloucester's physical attack will be the offensive line. The Fishermen have shown drastic improvements up front this season and they will need to be on their game once again this week against a crowded front-eight. If Gloucester can establish the run early and control the line of scrimmage it will be in good shape to put a lot of points on the board again this week.

When Weston has the ball: The Fishermen defense has established itself as a legitimate strength in the early stages of the season, especially the front seven. This week it will be taking on an offense that has shown the ability to put points on the board, averaging 33.5 points per game. The Wildcats had a field day on the offensive side of the ball in Week 2, putting 47 points on the board en route to their first win of the season while the Gloucester starting defense did not allow a single point against Chelsea last week with the only touchdown allowed coming late in the fourth against the backup defense.

The Wildcats like to spread out the defense running a lot of three and four wide receiver sets, but like to balance the run and passing games. Quarterback Mark McManus has size (6-foot-3) and is a passing and running threat. He spreads the ball out to multiple receivers while the running game relies heavily on Jojo Uga, who has power and speed out of the backfield. The Fishermen faced two offenses that like to run a tight, physical offense. Week 3 will be a change of pace as Weston is the most wide open offense Gloucester will have faced this year. The Fishermen secondary will be put to the test this week as Weston has a lot of receivers it likes to use. The key will be to keep McManus uncomfortable with consistent pressure and to keep him from scrambling for big games. Gloucester does not want to get into a shootout, it will have to limit big plays and long possessions to keep the defense fresh.

Outlook: This is an interesting matchup that looks to pit strength vs. strength as Gloucester has been better on the defensive side of the ball through two weeks while Weston has been better on offense. The key will be which team can control the tempo. An up and down track meet favors Weston where a slower paced, physical grind favors Gloucester. The Fishermen will need to put together sustained drives, take an early lead and force Weston out of its comfort zone on both sides of the ball. If Gloucester can turn this game into a battle of physicality it will put itself in a good spot to leave with a big road win.

MANCHESTER ESSEX (2-0) AT GREATER LOWELL (1-1), FRIDAY (6 P.M.)

When Manchester Essex has the ball: The Hornets are on fire offensively, scoring 40 points or more in their two blowout wins over Ipswich and Whittier Tech. Manchester Essex has lit up the scoreboard this season through balance, using an effective run game to open up big plays in the passing game for quarterback Brennan Twombly. This week they will be taking on a Greater Lowell defense that has allowed only 28 points in two games this season and is coming off of a dominant performance in a 10-7 win over Wilmington last week. The Hornets will need to produce in both the run and passing games this week to solve a strong Gryphons defense and it all starts up front. Greater Lowell's defensive line has been strong in the early going and if the Hornets can win that battle against a strong front it will be able to obtain the balanced offense it needs.

When Greater Lowell has the ball: The Gryphons have not been putting up big points on offense through two weeks with just 24 points and will be taking on a Hornets defense that has been dominant against both the run and the pass. Greater Lowell comes out in a spread look but likes to run the ball with quarterback Brendan Arsenault and running back Aviren Chitpaseuth. The Hornets are led by a stellar defensive line powered by ends Ben Hurd and Troy Flood, who have dominated opposing tackles through two weeks. If the Hornets can limit the Gryphons rushing attack they can put the game in the hands of their ball hawking secondary, which has forced a bunch of turnovers in the early stages of the season.

Greater Lowell's key to winning is controlling the clock. If the Gryphons can keep their offense on the field and the Hornets offense off the field, they can control the tempo and turn it into their style of football.

Outlook: Both teams look to have strong defenses so it will come down to which team executes better on offense. The Hornets have been clicking on that side of the ball and as long as they don't fall behind early their balance and big play threat in the run and passing games could be the difference in this one.