By Cary Shuman
Goodbye, GBL. Hello, state football playoffs.
The Everett High School football team completed its final season in the Greater Boston League by claiming the 2016 title with a 43-0 victory over Malden Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Everett will begin its quest for the Division 1 state championship Saturday (6 p.m.) against Haverhill at Trinity Stadium in Haverhill.
Anthony Norcia, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, set the tone for the Tide’s rout of Malden when he returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Jordan McAfee rushed for the conversion to make it 8-0.
Coach John DiBiaso credited Gerell Boyce, Duval Paul, and Duke Cine in leading an Everett defense that kept Malden off the scoreboard.
Meanwhile, the Tide offense looked very sharp while scoring five touchdowns in the first half and building a 43-0 lead.
Senior running back Chris Jenkins displayed his speed on an 82-yard touchdown run. Jenkins later added a 1-yard score in the second quarter.
Senior running back Marvens Fedna, who has quietly had an excellent season, had two 9-yard runs for touchdowns.
McAfee and Norcia showed that Everett’s potent passing game is also ready for the playoffs with a 23-yard connection in the right corner of the end zone.
Sophomore placekicker Gabe DeSouza was a perfect 5-of-5 on point after attempts.
Senior Joseph LaMonica, who has been a dedicated four-year player, made some solid runs in the second half as the Tide kept the ball out of Malden’s hands. LaMonica came very close to finding a path to the end zone on one carry – which would have been a perfect finish to Senior Night.
DiBiaso liked what he saw in the final tuneup before the state playoffs.
“It’s very nice to win the last GBL title in football,” said DiBiaso. “It was also nice to get a little payback for last year so we’re happy about all that. I thought the whole team played well. It was a nice team win. The special teams came up with a big play to open the game with Anthony Norcia’s touchdown return. The defense played well and the offense moved the ball. I was happy with everything.”
Everett will be facing an outstanding Haverhill team that has reeled off six victories (including a 21-10 win over No. 1 seed Central Catholic) after losing to St. John’s Prep (33-29).
Haverhill is a former member of the Greater Boston League and coach John DiBiaso remembers playing against the Hillies in baseball during his senior year. Haverhill left the GBL and is a now a member of the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Tim O’Connor is the Haverhill head football coach. O’Connor is a former captain at St. John’s Prep and his family is originally from Chelsea, so he is very familiar with Everett’s football tradition.
Many observers feel that Everett and Haverhill are the two best public school teams in Massachusetts this season so the matchup is being billed as “the state public high school championship game.”
Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire was again right on the mark hoping that Everett would be playing a new opponent in the state playoffs. One of the most exciting aspects of the playoffs is facing a team that you haven’t seen during the regular season.
In the other Division 1 North playoffs matchups, Andover should be able to put up some points against undefeated Lexington while Central Catholic and St. John’s Prep are the favorites in their matchups against Methuen and Acton-Boxboro respectively.