This has been an historic season for the Everett High football team.
Ranked No. 1 in the polls since August, coach John DiBiaso’s Crimson Tide took the field Tuesday night hoping to take a step toward bringing another Super Bowl championship to the city.
Quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso became the state’s all-time touchdown leader this fall. He had thrown 101 touchdown passes heading into the playoffs.
With the accurate throwing DiBiaso at the helm, Everett has become a prolific passing team, straying from the philosophy in the seasons prior to his arrival when the Tide featured a powerful Big 10-style running game.
While DiBiaso has garnered much-deserved headlines for his record-breaking campaign, the Everett offensive line has made the blocks and opened the holes for a unit that is averaging 41.4 points a game.
Legendary line coach Mike Milo affectionately calls the group “the Hogs,” a reference to the great line that once dominated for the Washington Redskins.
Others call the group of seven – centered by senior Nick Stanfield and complemented by Patrick Sullivan, Michael Ottersburg, Marc Fils-Aime, John Montelus, Jordan Goudreau, and super sub Brandon Conde – the unsung heroes of the EHS football team.
They’re big, strong, fast, mobile – and unheralded. One of the line’s chief admirers is head coach John DiBiaso.
“I definitely love these guys,” said DiBiaso at a practice at Everett Memorial Stadium. “I appreciate what they do and all the hard work they put in and the dedication they display. I’m very proud to be their coach – the only thing I wouldn’t want to do is feed them. This is one of the best offensive lines we’ve ever had.”
MEET THE MEN UP FRONT
“It’s a great feeling being in the middle of all these linemen,” said Stanfield, a 6-foot, 230-pound senior. “Everybody gets along and works hard together. I’m very confident in the abilities of the whole line. There are no weaknesses. It’s all strong all the way around.”
Stanfield has been virtually flawless in his exchanges with quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso.
“I feel honored to be a part of the line and Jon’s record,” said Stanfield, who hopes to play college football. “It’s been an exciting year. I’m going to miss these guys. Coach Milo is a great coach and works us as hard as he can. He is one of a kind.”
A 6-1, 265-pound junior left guard, Fils-Aime said he’s come a long way under the day-to-day teachings of coach Milo.
“Every once in a while he may be a little vociferous, but I still love him – he’s my dad out here,” said Fils-Aime. “It’s been great playing line with these guys. My man Ottie [Ottersburg] got injured but Brandon stepped up and did what he had to do.
“And then there’s John [Montelus], who’s standing tall and has these offers from all Division 1 schools. One game he even took out four people at once. I haven’t even done that yet. I just love playing football with these guys and hopefully next year we’ll do great things again.”
Ottersburg is in his second year as a starting lineman. “I think we’ve improved as a line, especially our run blocking,” said Ottersburg, a 6-2, 315-pound junior.
Ottersburg singled out Conde for stepping in for him and keeping the line in tact.
“I know we can rely on Brandon,” said Ottersburg. “He’s a really good lineman for his size. He has a big heart.”
Ottersburg has been a force playing on the same line with the highly rated Montelus.
“One of my best friends is a D-1 prospect and I’m proud of him,” said Ottersburg. “But I’m proud of the whole offensive line because they work hard. I think we click well because of our friendship and we’ve been together for two years. I’ve been friends with Jonathan since sixth grade. I’ve very happy for Jonathan breaking the record. He’s been progressing his entire career and he’s ready to play quarterback in college.”
Ottersburg would be a great choice for captain of the 2012 team and it appears he may realize that prestigious title.
There’s a good reason for optimism for next season because Sullivan, a 6-2, 255-pound junior, is one of the linemen who will return in 2012.
“I know that senior leadership is important,” said Sullivan. “Last year I looked up to Nick Chiarello and Bryan DaSilva and this year I’m looking up to Stanfield and Conde showed me how tough you have to be.”
Sullivan said the offense has improved since the beginning of the season.
“We were a little rusty at the beginning of the year, but now we’re churning out 40 points a game,” said Sullivan. “But our goal is just to work hard and take it one game at a time. We don’t want anything less than a Super Bowl.”
Sullivan thanked Milo for bringing out the best in his abilities.
“Coach Milo has taught me everything I know,” said Sullivan. “He taught me how to pass block and run block. Blocking isn’t easy. You have 250-300-pound kids in front of you and you have to move them. That’s not an easy thing to do. There is a mental aspect: you have to know what to do first – pull, block down, or veer.”
He said running back Vondell Langston has been a great asset to the pass-oriented offense.
“Vondell runs really hard – even if you miss a block, he can run a defender over,” said Sullivan.
Sullivan said he’s known coach DiBiaso for a long time.
“I played on Jonathan’s baseball team when we were in fifth grade,” recalled Sullivan. “We have a great coach and I’m happy I’ve become a starting lineman.”
Sullivan said it was he who recruited John Montelus to play football.
“I got him into football, actually,” said Sullivan. “I told him to come to the weight room freshman year. So now when he makes it to the NFL, I hope he remembers that.”
The 6-5, 290-pound junior has caught the eye of college football programs, notably BC, North Carolina State, Virginia, Syracuse, UConn, and UCLA.
“There’s been a lot of interest,” Montelus said humbly.
Montelus said he’s improved his blocking skills a lot in the past two seasons. He feels the line has also progressed well under the stewardship of coach Milo.
“I have a lot of confidence in my linemates,” said Montelus. “We have a great line. I love these guys and Conde for stepping up for Ottie. I even love my scout team.”
Montelus didn’t play Pop Warner football and made his debut with the varsity as a sophomore.
“Coach Milo taught me a lot and I learned a lot about offensive line play from him,” said Montelus, who is a likely candidate for a captaincy of next year’s team.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience playing for this line,” said Goudreau, a 6-4, 265-pound senior who returned to the line after missing all of last season. “We have great teamwork up front – we block for each other. Everybody works together as a team. Coach Milo is a great coach who works us hard.”
Goudreau aspires to be a pilot after attending college.
Conde has been a valuable contributor to the line, filling in admirably when Ottersburg sustained an injury.
“I never knew they [the other linemen] were so big – I’m the smallest [5-10, 215] person out there,” said Conde. “It’s been a great year. I never knew I was going to have brothers at the end of it. I always remember these guys and this season.”