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Apr. 9—As the Gloucester and Manchester Essex football teams head down the stretch run of the Fall 2 season, Week 5 brings a big conference or league clash for both schools.

The Fishermen are essentially playing for at least an unofficial share of the Northeastern Conference South championship on Friday night when Winthrop visits Newell Stadium (5 p.m.). The Fishermen and Vikings are both 2-0 in NEC South action and Friday is the final conference game for both schools. While an official conference champ will not be crowned this season, the winner will clinch an undefeated record in NEC South action. Both teams, however, will not play Swampscott, which saw its games with Gloucester and Winthrop cancelled due to a COVID-19 shut down.

Manchester Essex, on the other hand, is looking to get back on track after suffering two straight defeats. The Hornets travel to Hamilton-Wenham on Saturday (1 p.m.) for a Cape Ann League Baker Division clash.

Here’s what to look out for in each game.

GLOUCESTER (3-1) vs. WINTHROP (3-0), FRIDAY AT NEWELL STADIUM (5 p.m.)

When Gloucester has the ball: The Fishermen are looking to bounce back from a tough offensive performance a week ago. Running backs Frank DeSisto (36 yards) and Caleb DeCoste (8 yards) had little room to operate against Beverly in the team’s first loss of the season. Gloucester will again be looking to get that duo going in the run game once again. Winthrop will also have to respect the passing game, most notably tight end Jayden DelTorchio, who had a coming out party in the passing game a week ago with 82 yards. DelTorchio’s 46-yard pop pass set up Gloucester’s first touchdown of the game last week.

Gloucester had more passing yards than rushing yards last week for the first time all season, a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was playing from behind all game. The Fishermen are going to have to find more of a rhythm in the run game this week.

When Winthrop has the ball: The Vikings are a talented offensive squad led by quarterback Duke Doherty, who transferred to Winthrop from Everett High School after starting at quarterback for the Crimson Tide in the fall of 2019. Doherty is the main focus of the Winthrop offense as he can run — both on designed runs and scrambles — and is an elite passer. Ryan Hovermale is the team’s leading rusher while Bobby Hubert is also a running threat at the fullback position. Mike Chaves is Winthrop’s most dangerous pass catcher.

Gloucester keys to victory: The Fishermen must win the battle at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball Friday night. Beverly’s size and depth up front got the best of Gloucester a week ago and the front lineman are going to have to set the tone against a talented team this week. If Gloucester can get a push on the offensive line it can control the tempo of the game. Defensively the Fishermen will have to create penetration to make Doherty uncomfortable.

Winthrop keys to victory: The Vikings need to find ways to let their athletes make plays. Gloucester will be looking to slow the game down and grind out a win. Winthrop wants to take advantage of its athleticism and its big play ability on offense.

MANCHESTER ESSEX (1-3) at HAMILTON-WENHAM (1-3), SATURDAY AT HAMILTON-WENHAM HS (1 p.m.)

When Manchester Essex has the ball: The Hornets have been shut out in each of their last two games and will be looking to get back on track this week against a physical Generals defense. There is uncertainty as to who will be in the Manchester Essex backfield on Saturday as quarterback Will Levendusky and running back Gavin Glass, both senior captains, were injured in last week’s game against Lynnfield.

Levendusky injured his throwing hand but was still able to play safety on defense. Glass, on the other hand, suffered an ankle injury and did not play at all in the second half.

The Hornets will need to show some balance against the Generals. A.J. Pallazola will lead the passing game from the outside receiver slot. Manchester Essex has a few options at running back but Joe Daly, Sam Rice and Eli Hammett look to be the top contenders to see the bulk of the carries if Glass can not go.

When Hamilton-Wenham has the ball: The Generals were hit with the injury bug in the early going, using three different quarterbacks in the first two weeks. The team, however, has gotten its health back and it led to its first win of the season a week ago, 21-14 over Pentucket.

The Generals boast a strong passing attack led by quarterback Carter Coffey and his two tall receivers in Ryan Monahan (408 yards receiving) and Markus Nordin, who slid back to receiver after playing quarterback when Coffey was out with an injury.

Coffey is also mobile enough to make plays in the run game while Marty Cooke will also see carries for the Generals.

Manchester Essex keys to victory: The Hornets must find a way to produce on offense. Their defense has kept them in most games this season but the offense has yet to score more than two touchdowns in a game. If Manchester Essex can find the end zone at least three times, it will be in good position with the way its defense has been playing.

Hamilton-Wenham keys to victory: The Generals need to win the turnover battle and finish off drives. They can’t let Manchester Essex hang around with a momentum swinging stop or takeaway. If Hamilton-Wenham takes care of the ball it could be tough for the Hornets to keep up.

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