By Cary Shuman
The Everett High School football team had a 2-2 record when head coach John DiBiaso challenged his team.
Yes, only a couple of plays separated the Crimson Tide from an undefeated record at that point, but some fans wondered in which direction the 2016 season would go.
Everett, as expected, rolled to its final title in the Greater Boston League, but could this team continue that momentum and step up its game in what looked like a wide-open Division 1 North Sectional?
Everett answered that question emphatically with a powerful 62-33 victory over Andover in the Division 1 North final Saturday at Everett Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Everett will play Xaverian in the “Battle to be the Best” in the Division 1 Super Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 3.
The Tide stamped their ticket to the Super Bowl by unleashing a ferocious rushing attack at the Golden Eagles from the first possession and making things difficult all day for Andover’s superb quarterback, E.J. Perry IV. Perry IV, who could be Boston College’s starting quarterback next fall, praised Everett’s defense and the team’s strategy.
“Everett’s defense got to the quarterback, got to me – they had a really good defensive line and really good coverage and when they started giving pressure, we started going quick-snap and they were able to jump in – and that was their game plan all game and it worked well for them,” said Perry IV. “Obviously you always come in confident that you can play with any team, but today Everett got the better of us.”
Everett linebacker RJ Fialli was one of the key defenders who kept the pressure on Perry.
“Our defense played really well,” said Fialli. “We contained Perry. He scored a couple of touchdowns on us but we came back and finished strong. Our defensive line really showed up today and our defensive backs really came back in the second half and got the Pick-6 right off the bat.”
Indeed, super sophomore Mike Sainristil delivered a defensive gem on the second play of the second half when he returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown. He had a 93-yard kickoff return in the second quarter preceded by a 58-yard catch and cut-across-the-entire field run for a third score.
Everett’s other offensive stars, led by quarterback Jordan McAfee (8-of-14 for 179 yards) also barreled through the beleagured Andover defense that couldn’t contain the Tide’s multi-faceted rushing game.
Marvens Fedna (7 carries for 62 yards) provided the early spark with a 27-yard touchdown run before leaving the game with an injury.
Chris Jenkins had six carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a 32-yard burst to paydirt. Jacob Miller brought along his best running to account for two touchdowns and 69 yards on 10 carries.
While Perry had his moments, Everett’s Duane Binns, Weaverson Ulysse, Duval Paul, John Miller, R.J. Fialli, Duke Cine, and Lewis Cine all made significant contributions to a defense that has excelled in the playoff conquests of Haverhill, Central Catholic, and Andover.
John DiBiaso felt the offense’s quick start was essential against Andover, a team that averaged 42 points a game.
“Our offense executed and we had some big plays early in the game,” said DiBiaso. “We wanted to get out in front early because we know they’re very explosive and we didn’t want to be coming from behind. I thought our offensive line did a good job. We ran the ball well. Marven sprained his ankle and the next two guys – Jenkins and Miller – stepped up and played very well. We executed up and down the field and Sainristil made some big plays.”
Everett will play Masconomet Regional on Thanksgiving morning before turning its full attention to Xaverian with the state championship on the line.