All pieces are in place for Danvers, Gloucester

Matthew McCarthy will be the go-to back this season for the Falcons. (Item File Photo)

The Danvers football team finished at 6-5 last season but Falcons coach Ryan Nolan feels the record isn’t a good indication of how hard his team worked. After a 5-2 regular season, Danvers upset Classical in the Division 3 North quarterfinal. Danvers then lost its next three games to finish at 6-5.

“We were right in games against some of these really good teams we played,” Nolan, entering his second season at the helm of the Falcons, said. “It’s no indication of how hard we worked but a record is a record.”

Now the Falcons look to 2018 with a group that features solid returning players on both sides of the ball.

“Our best all around player is Matthew McCarthy,” Nolan said. “He had 500 rushing and receiving yards for us last season and plays cornerback and safety as well. He’s a dynamic player and great student being looked at by several colleges in New England.”

Nolan is also confident in his offensive line this year, which includes junior captain Tommy Walfield at center.

“We have eight linemen coming back that played for us at some point last season,” Nolan said. “We have all these big kids coming back and we went from being inexperienced and small last year to carrying over experience and working hard in the weight room this offseason.”

Behind that offensive line are skill players like senior receiver Justin DiTomaso and junior quarterback Brendan Treacy.

“Brendan has worked very hard developing as a quarterback,” Nolan said. “It’s his first year starting for us and he has done a great job working in weight room and in 7v7s this offseason.”

Danvers has plenty to improve on as the season approaches but Nolan’s confident that his team can compete with anyone on their schedule.

“We have looked well,” Nolan said. “We had one scrimmage against Woburn where we performed well but we also recognize that we have things to work on. We have to improve everyday.

“We are by far one of the smallest schools in Division 3 but we look forward to the challenge,” Nolan added. “It gives us a kind of chip on our shoulder and that underdog mentality, we’re up for it.”

The Falcons kick off the season Friday night (7) when they host Masconomet.

“Masconomet’s a very good program,” Nolan said. “They’re consistently solid every season. It’s going to be a great game because their district and our town are adjacent. These kids grow up playing sports with each other. It’s a good match up we’re excited for. It won’t be easy but it’s great for high school football around here to get everyone excited for the season.”

At Gloucester, the Fishermen carry plenty of optimism as they gear up for the 2018 season. The Fishermen battled their share of injuries last fall but finished at 7-4. Marc Smith returns to the fold for his senior season at fullback. Smith will split carries with Ryan Argentino and Jan Pena-Ortiz. James Nelson will serve as the starting quarterback.

Gloucester coach Tony Zerilli enters his eighth season at the helm of the Fishermen.

Gloucester opens the season Friday night (7) against Revere at Newell Stadium.

Other NEC teams:

Somerville begins the post-Elijah Jeffreys era Friday night (7) at Peabody. Jeffreys flourished under center last fall for the Highlanders with both his passing and running abilities. He was named Most Valuable Player of the NEC at the end of the season. Jeffreys is currently playing Division I football as a wide receiver at UConn. Somerville went 7-3 last season with losses to English, Gloucester and Watertown.

Malden hopes for a turnaround season in 2018 after a 1-10 record last fall. The bright side for the Golden Tornados, however, is they capped the 2017 season with a 27-22 win over rival Medford on Thanksgiving. Malden opens the season Friday night (7) at Methuen.

Medford also finished at 1-10 last season. The Mustangs’ only win of 2017 was a 26-8 victory over Winthrop. Medford opens the season Friday night (6) when the Mustangs host Classical at Hormel Stadium.

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