Boston High School: Michael Tomaino

Gloucester champions one season at a time

December, 5, 2010
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.”

The View from Gloucester

December, 2, 2010
Gloucester High captains Chris Unis, Gilbert Brown, Michael Tomaino and Andrew Mizzoni broke down their impending Division 1A Super Bowl rematch with Bridgewater-Raynham this morning on the turf at Gillette Stadium:

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)