By Cary Shuman
Frederick Foresteire, superintendent of Everett schools, had known John DiBiaso his whole life before he made the coaching appointment that would change the entire landscape of Massachusetts high school football.
“I watched John when he played sports at Everett High School,” said Foresteire. “After I became superintendent, we named a new coach. John DiBiaso was Everett. He had been successful where he coached before (St. Patrick’s of Watertown and Weston) and he was coaching our Everett basketball team and we saw what he was producing there. He was the guy who I thought could do it with our football team and he did it.”
Foresteire recalled that Everett was 1-3 early in DiBiaso’s first season before the Tide went on to win six straight games.
“He came back the next year with a 7-2-1 record and the next year he was undefeated – and then it’s been a story ever since.”
Everett won its first Super Bowl in 1997, lost a tough one to Xaverian on a last-second field goal in 1998 and returned to the throne with a 40-6 victory over New Bedford in 1999. Memorable plays like the famed Leo Leap at BU’s Nickerson Field – Gennaro Leo’s dive over the pylon in an 8-7 win over Bridgewater-Raynhan on a gutsy two-point conversion call by DiBiaso and Frank Nuzzo’s 97-yard interception return in a 13-7 win over St. John’s Prep – were part of a streak of three consecutive Super Bowl victories in 2001, 2002, and 2003.
There were back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007 and another streak of three state titles in 2010, 2011, and 2012 with the coach’s son, Jonathan DiBiaso, at quarterback before the Tide secured their eleventh Super Bowl championship last Saturday.
While Foresteire has been the Bob Kraft behind the Everett dynasty, giving the football team the support and resources it needed, creating a college-style atmosphere for Everett home games, and helping to build the best program in Massachusetts, he fully credits DiBiaso and the coaching staff for maintaining Everett’s year-to-year excellence.
“You have a guy [DiBiaso] with a coaching staff that are committed. And they work at finding young people in Everett and keeping them here,” said Foresteire. “The secret is keeping the students here because it’s so different from years ago. Families, if they lived on Broadway, they lived there their whole life. That’s not the way it is now. Families are moving all the time. We’re a transitional city.”
Foresteire said when a player enters the EHS football program, the Everett coaches make it a point to help each student-athlete in all aspects of their academic pursuits, athletic development, and college selection process, while getting their families involved in the program as well.
“Very rarely do we lose a player to another school system,” said Foresteire.
Anyone who has attended an Everett High football banquet knows that one of the most heartwarming segments is when Supt. Foresteire talks about the accomplishments of the senior football players and cheerleaders and what their college destinations are. You can also a pin drop when John DiBiaso gives his perennially eloquent, season-ending address.
“The banquet will be special,” said Foresteire. “There will be rings and jackets.”
He will join coach DiBiaso, the coaching staff, parents, and local dignitaries in saluting a state championship season.
“Being around the students, you get attached to them because they’re a wonderful bunch of kids, whether they’re on the football team, cheerleaders, or in the band,” said Foresteire. “The Friday before the game, we had a pep rally with 2,200 kids in the fieldhouse. To see the way they acted, they were just having fun and it was a wonderful thing to see. You can’t win unless you have good kids that are committed to excellence and that’s what wins.”
It is a storybook ending to another unforgettable season, something that Frederick Foresteire had in mind when he chose John DiBiaso to lead Everett High School football more than two decades ago.
“The championship is the result of a group of young men who really committed themselves,” said Foresteire. “You couldn’t accomplish what they did unless you’re a good person because it was their sacrifice that did it.
“They have great respect for their coaches, especially coach DiBiaso. They went to war for them all season.”
Foresteire said he saw state-championship potential in this year’s team in the pre-season and that his optimism wasn’t deterred by losses to Xaverian and Billerica.
“We got blindsided by Billerica. I think we sort of took that game for granted after we scored two quick touchdowns and had a 14-0 lead. They taught these kids a lessons because they didn’t lose after that.”