By Cary Shuman
State championship teams require excellence in all phases of the game.
Let it be said that the Everett High School football team displayed its greatness on offense, defense, and special teams all season, especially when the competition became one-and-done.
The Crimson Tide put it all together during their run through the Division 1 North playoffs and carried that splendor in to the Super Bowl, besting two-time defending champion Xaverian, 21-7, before 6,000 fans Saturday at Manning Field in Lynn.
Quarterback Jordan McAfee had another stellar performance, throwing for 214 yards and connecting for touchdown passes to Mike Sainristil and Theo Zidor, the latter score coming on a superbly executed play-action pass play that left Zidor with a nearly unimpeded path to the end zone.
Sainristil had the undisputed play of the day on a full-length diving catch. The producer of many spectacular moments this season, Sainristil, a 5-foot-10, 160-pound sophomore, had four receptions for 87 yards.
That catch wowed everyone in the stadium, though McAfee said Sainristil has always been a big-play maker.
“Mike is an amazing player,” said McAfee. “In the open field, give him a little room and he’ll make a play for you.”
Marvens Fedna also stood tall for the Tide, scoring on a 10-yard run in the second quarter and finishing as the game’s leading rusher with 52 yards.
Former Alabama/Crimson Tide coach Bear Bryant once said “offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships,” and on this day, the Everett defense was a cut above the Xaverian defense that was considered the state’s best.
Duane Binns was simply sensational, accounting for 12 tackles, two quarterback sacks, and one game-sealing recovery of an onside kick. Binns and fellow lineabackers RJ Fialli and Duke Cine all contributed to the containment of the Hawks’ running game.
“Duane is a special player,” said senior lineman Duval Paul, who was also immense on defense. “He’s always been tough and doesn’t back down. He’s fast and the kid has heart.”
Senior Gerell Boyce had a fumble recovery while junior Jason Maitre had a key interception in the fourth quarter.
“I thought that interception by Jason sealed the game,” said Coach John DiBiaso. “It was a big, big play.”
DiBiaso said the victory was a case of everyone contributing for all four quarters. One example, sophomore placekicker Gabriel DeSouza booted three PATs, completing an exceptional campaign in which he was nearly automatic on his kicks after touchdowns.
“It was a great season – everyone stepped up,” said DiBiaso. “One hundred hearts beat as one. I’m so happy for all our players.”
Xaverian coach Charlie Stevenson said after the game, “I give Everett credit. They played great on both sides of the ball. Congratulations to Everett, they’re the champs. They made the plays today. They played better in all phases of the game. That’s the bottom line.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria congratulated the Everett team on being state champion, saying, “Everett played tremendously and conducted themselves as complete gentlemen on the field. They were respectful to the referees and the players on the other team, just a class team, a class act.”
Josh Del Gaizo, voice of the Crimson Tide, said the team’s post-season run was spectacular.
“I’m seen my share of Crimson Tide football and this post season run is one of the best ever,” said Del Gaizo. “You were given a sledgehammer of a slate with Haverhill, Central Catholic, and then Andover who had the hottest quarterback in the state and you drop 62 points on them. So you put it all together and then you go and beat Xaverian, 21-7, in the Super Bowl, in dominating team fashion. This Crimson Tide team is going to have its place etched in history.”
Senior captain Bobby Lopes added, “I’m extremely excited about the win and I wish the younger guys the best and I hope they get a few more.”
Duval Paul and his teammates can now look ahead to the banquet and the presentation of awards that are reserved deservedly for the best team in the state – a No. 1 ranking that both Boston newspapers confirmed in their final polls this week.
“I am looking forward to the banquet,” said Paul. “First ring, first jacket, first time being a state champion – I’m blessed that my last game I got to go out with my guys and win a state title.”