Boston High School: Brandon Cusumano

Gloucester rolls to repeat peformance over B-R

December, 4, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a repeat of last year’s Division 1 Super Bowl, the returning champions Gloucester Fishermen won-out again, taking down the Bridgewater-Raynham Trojans 34-13, at Gillette Satdium on Super Bowl Saturday.

Gloucester took a 21-6 lead into halftime and didn’t let up, on its way to the Fishermen’s second-straight Super Bowl, and third Super Bowl in four years.

“You don’t win 26 games in a row -- in the league they’re in, and the playoffs -- for nothing.” Bridgewater-Raynham coach Dan Buron said of Gloucester. “That’s a great team.”

In what was likely Gloucester coach Paul Ingram’s last game with the Fishermen, the Fishermen had a balanced offensive attack that kept the Trojans puzzled.

“We just want to go out on a good note, he’s the best coach I’ve ever had, personally -- I think he’s the best coach in the state hands down,” co-captain Jordan Shairs said.

Like most of Gloucester’s opponents did this year, Bridgewater-Raynham paid close attention to the running backs Shairs and Gilbert Brown.

However coach Ingram countered that strategy by sucking in the defense with his tight-winged formations and play-action passes. Quarterback Joseph Avila had a solid game under center, completing 6 of 8 passes for 87 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

One of Avila’s passes was a 19-yard touchdown to running back Brandon Cusumano on a pass down the seam. Cusumano, who returned to Gloucester’s lineup Tuesday after missing time with a broken collarbone, had six rushes for 63 yards and one touchdown to along with two catches for 36 yards.

The senior running back also forced a key fumble on a sack in the second quarter. After Gloucester recovered the fumble, they punched in a score on a 5-yard Gilbert Brown touchdown run, making it 21-6 before the half.

“Brandon just makes big plays, whether its on the offensive side or the defensive side,” Ingram said of Cusumano.

“People can step in for him, but he just brings a whole other feeling to the game,” Avila said of the running back. “His field presence is ridiculous.”

Trojans’ quarterback Billy Zolga led the Bridgewater-Raynham offense. He was 8 of 20 for 74 yards with one touchdown, and also carried the ball four times for 40 yards with a score.

But that was the most productive player for Bridgewater-Raynham on the night. While Gloucester’s offense impressed, its defense did not slack either.

“They hit hard, they play hard, and the secondary played very well tonight along with the defensive line too,” Ingram said.

“Its really special, its like amazing...” Gloucester’s Chris Unis said about the back-to-back Super Bowls. “We’re all a bunch of guys that just want to work hard, we don’t care who gets the glory, we just come out and play hard for each other.”

Bridgewater-Raynham couldn’t play from behind, and did not have the offensive firepower to compete with Gloucester.

The Fishremen used their eperience to secure another Division 1 Championship.

“I know I’ve only lived for 18 years but it’s probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had,” Avila said about the night.

G 7 14 6 7 G 34
B-R 6 0 7 0 B-R 13


G - Cusumano 30 pass from Avila (Santo Parisi kick)
B-R - Mike Chicoine 22 pass from Zolga (run failed)

G - Shairs 3 run (Parisi kick)
G - Brown 5 run (Parisi kick)

G - Cusumano 5 run (kick failed)
B-R - Chris Cream 3 run (Joseph Harmon kick)

G - Michael Tomaino 19 pass from Avila (Parisi kick)

Brown, Shairs share load for Gloucester

December, 1, 2010
SUDBURY, Mass. -- What one Gloucester running back started, the other finished off. That was the way it went for the Fishermen, as they eased to a 21-0 win over Lincoln-Sudbury in the Division 1A Semi-final on Tuesday night.

Gloucester came out firing in the first half with wing back Gilbert Brown (19 carries, 122 yards, 1TD), and turned in the second to fullback Jordan Shairs (19 carries, 142 yards, touchdown). Both backs worked the Lincoln-Sudbury defensive line for gaps, and accelerated to the second level after they made it through.

“That was the strategy,” Shairs said about sharing the workload. “He was running the ball well and the defense would try to stop him, so then I would get the ball…that’s the best part of our offense.”

To start the game, Brown worked at wingback and ran a lot of jet-sweeps to stretch the defense across the field, while Shairs ran the traps in the middle. In the second half the roles changed -- as Shairs took more belly-handoffs -- but success remained a constant.

The duo worked as well as they have all season, but was thankful of the effort of their offensive line.

The Gloucester offensive line, led by senior co-captain Andrew Mizzoni, neutralized a powerful Lincoln-Sudbury front-seven. With the help of tight ends Chris Unis and Michael Tomaino, the group kept defensive lineman Zach Smerlas in check.

“The line was the biggest thing for us today,” Brown said. “I think they deserve the credit because they work their butts off all year in practice and in games, and don’t get noticed.”

“You have to give the offensive line a lot of credit,” Gloucester coach Paul Ingram said about the success on the ground. “They’re a tough group of kids.”

Lincoln-Sudbury head coach Tom Lopez decided to ditch his Wing-T background and go with a more spread-oriented offense for most of the game. The Warriors had little success running the ball against the Gloucester defense, but did find pockets of hope airing the ball out.

Early in the second quarter L-S showed signs of life on a 13-play drive that started from its own 26-yard line but stalled at the Gloucester 5, after a fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

Warriors’ quarterback Matt Cahill completed 11 of 25 passes for 82 yards with an interception in the game. He and wide receiver Jack Harris showed their usual chemistry and narrowly missed hooking up on a 23-yard touchdown pass that would have cut the score to 13-6 in the second. Cahill lofted a perfect fade to Harris, but the Gloucester defense caught up to Harris just as the ball hit his hands and knocked it loose.

Surprisingly, Gloucester looked as fresh in this game, as they did in the season opener. The team had a familiar spark in its step provided from the return of running back Brandon Cusumano. Cusumano had a few rushes sprinkled throughout the game, but hauled in a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joseph Avila to begin the fourth quarter. The wingback missed most of the year due to injury, but is back in the lineup and looks healthy again.

With the win, Glloucester advances to the Division 1A Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, where last year they defeated Bridgewater-Raynham, 33-13.

“The team is fired up,” Shairs said about reaching Gillette Stadium again. “That’s like our home field…We’re not just showing up to for the playoffs, we’re going in and we’re going in to win.”

G 7 6 0 8 -- 21
L 0 0 0 0 -- 0

First quarter

G - Brown 5 run (Santo Parisi kick)

Second quarter

G - Shairs 1 run (kick failed)

Fourth quarter
G - Cusumano 25 pass from Avila (Parisi kick)

No. 3 Gloucester grinds its way to another NEC crown

November, 13, 2010
GLOUCESTER, Mass. –- Friday night’s game between NEC Large heavyweights Gloucester and Lynn Classical was played with the intensity and physicality one would expect out of two teams gunning for a league crown and Division 1A playoff berth.

In the end, the visiting Rams made one too many mistakes as the Fishermen held on for a 14-7 win, to improve to 10-0 on the season and mark their 23rd consecutive victory.

With the score tied at seven early in the fourth, a bad snap gave the hosts the ball at the Rams’ 1-yard line. Gloucester senior Jordan Shairs (71 yards, 2 TDs on 21 carries) took it in from there two plays later and it held up as the game-winner.

Classical nearly tied it several possessions later on the strength of a 33-yard Nick Grassa quarterback keeper to put the ball in Gloucester (10-0) territory. But the Rams fumbled soon after and it was recovered by Gloucester senior defensive lineman Bryan Ingersoll.

The Fishermen then fed Shairs seven straight times to help run out the clock.

Shairs scored on Gloucester’s first drive on a 2-yard dive, and Classical responded later in the quarter on Grassa’s 19-yard scamper on an option keeper.

From there, both defenses took over. Gloucester senior Michael Tomaino made two interceptions and laid out the biggest hit of the night when he belted Classical’s Tyler Alicudo on what would have been a sure first down in the fourth quarter.

For Classical, Danny Omoregie and Malcolm Leng-King recovered fumbles, while Christian Cromwell had an interception. All of that came in the first half, as did an Omale Rodriguez recovery of a Classical squib kick after their touchdown. But, as it did all night, the Gloucester defense didn’t budge.

“They’re the best team I’ve ever played,” Shairs said of Classical. “Toughest kids I’ve ever played. It felt wicked good (to beat them), because we’ve been playing them for four years now. … It felt really good.”

Here are a few more observations of this NEC Large tilt:

-- Tomaino had an outstanding all-around game. While Classical’s bread and butter is the option, Grassa had beaten teams deep all year with opponents creeping up to stop the run. Tomaino made sure that didn’t happen. With starting cornerback Brandon Cusumano down with an injury, Tomaino was all over the field. He made great plays with the ball in the air and the Alicudo hit came on the possession following the Gloucester touchdown. If there were an MVP handed out for the game, Tomaino would have deserved it as much as anyone.

“The whole 11 played really well,” said Tomaino, one of four captains. “If anybody wanted to be out there, it was (Cusumano). I just felt like as a captain, I had to step up, be a leader. I stepped up for him, played for him, and we got the job done.”

-- These teams had two of the best front sevens you’re going to find in Eastern Mass. Gloucester’s group is well-documented, but Classical has an underrated unit of tenacious defenders in the box. The defensive line of Omoregie (6-0, 221), Josh Cheever (6-3, 230), Stephan Armand (6-3, 260) and Craig Kanyangarara (6-0, 215) for the Rams is one of the best we’ve seen all year. Linebackers Buddy Ford (6-0, 226) and junior Calvin Ebieshieva (5-11, 180) are speedy, aggressive players who limited the type of big plays Gloucester’s been making all year.


LC (8-2) 7 0 0 0 - 7
GL(10-0) 7 0 0 7 - 14

First Quarter
G - Jordan Shairs 2 run (Santo Parisi kick)
LC - Nick Grassa 19 run (Grassa kick)

Fourth Quarter
G - Shairs 1 run (Parisi kick)

No. 6 Gloucester rolls over Andover

September, 16, 2010
ANDOVER, Mass. -– Andover began its nonleague contest with No. 6 Gloucester last night with a 95-yard kickoff return for Pat Farnham, and ended it with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Tom Dempsey to Ben McQuaide at the final gun.

Unfortunately for the Golden Warriors, those bookends didn’t paint an accurate picture of what happened in the time between, as Gloucester rolled to a 38-13 win at Lovely Stadium.

The Fishermen (2-0) responded immediately to the challenge by Andover (1-1), as Jordan Shairs scored on touchdown runs of 8 and 77 yards on Gloucester’s first two possessions. In the meantime, the defense (three interceptions) forced three-and-outs on Andover’s first two possessions, and then held on fourth down at its own 18.

“When a team does that to you right off the bat, you have to say you know what guys, we’re in for a game, get excited and step up,” said Gloucester defensive end Chris Unis, who had a sack and overall was a frequent guest in Dempsey’s pocket.

“That’s what I think our team did a great job of tonight. We responded, took it to them and jumped on them.”

Brandon Cusumano scored on a 10-yard reverse early in the second, and Unis caught a two-point pass from Joseph Avila to push the lead to 24-7. Gloucester was forced to go for two-point conversions due to a pre-game injury to its kicker.

After an interception by Gilbert Brown (nine carries for 74 yards) set up Gloucester at the Andover 9-yard line, Shairs carried twice before giving the Fishermen a 30-7 lead at the break on his third and final touchdown.

“They have confidence in themselves, and they were upset that (the kickoff return) happened,” Gloucester coach Paul Ingram said of his squad. “I think that may have even fired us up.

“They just sucked it up and we had a pretty good game plan defensively, and offensively kids blocked and ran hard, and (Avila) just really had a good game. He made some real big passes and converted some third-down passes that were big.”

Any hope of a comeback for Andover faded quickly in the second half. On fourth-and-5 from the Gloucester 10, Shairs came up with an interception in the endzone. After Andover’s defense held on fourth-and-10 from its 31, the Golden Warriors marched back down field, but Dempsey was picked off by Adam Philpott at the Gloucester 36.

““We were inside the (Gloucester) 10 (yard line) three times and got nothing,” said Andover coach E.J. Perry. “You can’t do that.

“Against a team like this you know they’re going to put up points. You can’t get to the 10 (and not score) and keep putting the defense out there and expect it to stop them. That killed us.”

Avila (8-of-13 for 158 yards) hit Cusumano for a 50-yard touchdown to close out the Gloucester scoring midway through the fourth. Avila also had three two-point conversions (two rush, one pass) on the night.