FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- To become a champion is a height not attained by many, and there can only be one champion at a time. “E pluribus unum.” For the past two years, almost three, Gloucester has been that one team out of the many.
“You don’t win 26 games in a row, in the league they’re in, and the playoffs for nothing,” said Bridgewater-Raynham coach Dan Buron of the team’s consecutive streak of victories. “That’s a great team. They’ve got a great program. One of the best around.”
Gloucester graduated a number of impact seniors last year, so according to the players, there was talk around Eastern Massachusetts that they could not accomplish what last year’s team did.
“A lot of people didn’t think it would’ve gotten done,” said senior Joseph Avila. “’Can’t repeat, it’s too hard, you lose too many seniors’… but we had the right players to fill in and get the job done. It’s a real accomplishment. We’re a football town.”
While this may be the last game some of the seniors will be playing together, it is not without history that these gentleman part athletic ways.
“I’ve been playing with half of my team since I was ten years old,” said senior captain Andrew Mizzoni. “It’s going to be sad leaving them, they’re like my brothers.”
They even have adopted the same attitudes, resulting in a homogenous approach to football and the game of life in Gloucester.
“We’re an aggressive town,” Mizzoni said. “Aggressive kids, and what we love is defense.”
The leader of this group is coach Paul Ingram, who has been the head coach at Gloucester for the past eight years, developing something deeper than a collection of young men that share the Fishermen mentality.
“Coach Ingram is the father of the brotherhood,” said Adam Philpott, of Coach Ingram. After the game, there were t-shirts with “Win One for Paul” emblazoned upon them, hinting that the players owed this win to Ingram as this may have been his last game at the helm of the Fishermen, although he told ESPN Boston that he would be considering his options over the next few days.
“That’s what he preaches, the brotherhood. I know he doesn’t like the attention, but he deserves a lot more than he gets. The success we have is a testament to his hard work. He puts in a ton of hours after school to get us ready, and that time has paid off for him.”
“It’s a couple of our coaches’ last year as well,” said Jordan Shairs, after saying that it was the best thing to do for his teammates to score in the Division 2 Super Bowl and possibly referring to Ingram and longtime assistant coach Tom Walsh, who may bow out along with Ingram. “Coach Ingram is the leader of the pack… like the dad. The rest of the coaches are like our uncles.”
While some players sat on the bench, others were keeping their composure for video cameras, but senior captain Michael Tomaino was making sure that the cheerleaders felt appreciated.
“Sometimes they don’t get all of the thank yous that they should,” said Tomaino. “They’re always around; they’re at every game so they deserve the credit.”
After giving praise to the cheerleaders, Tomaino lauded his “brothers”.
“I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to do this with, added Tomaino. “We play on various sports teams together, basketball, baseball, everything.”
Senior running back, Gilbert Brown, was not donning his usual number 16 today, for what some would consider a freshman move.
“I always put my jersey in my helmet, under my shoulder pads,” said Brown, also a captain, smiling. “I guess it fell out when I was walking out, because they found it on the stairs at the school.
“Coach Ingram has taught me everything I know about the game,” added Brown. “All of the coaches have been like fathers to me, but Ingram especially.”