Lyles named to NEC all-star team
Everett High volleyball co-captain Isabella Lyles has been selected an All Star in the Northeastern Conference. Isabella was nominated by the other coaches in the league and then was selected to the NEC Large All Conference team after powering the Lady Crimson Tide to their first state tournament appearance in seven seasons.
Lyles was Everett’s middle hitter, leading the Lady Crimson Tide in kills with an average of almost 10 kills per match.
“Bella was outstanding all year,” said Everett’s head coach Mike Fineran of the talented senior. “She is as good a hitter as there is in the league, and when she was on, we were tough to beat.”
Fineran cited Lyles’ performance against Winthrop, Revere, and Lynn English as particularly impressive. “It got to the point that when the other team would yell out her number, they would run back every time they saw a set going her way,” said Fineran.
“It is such an honor to be chosen as a league all star,” said Lyles. “It means my hard work has paid off and I’m very appreciative of that.” Isabella transferred to Everett before the start of last season and became an immediate impact player.
Everett was coming off a one-win season, but Lyles helped propel the squad to second place in the division.
“We won three games total in the two years before she got here,” said Fineran. “We won 19 the last two years. Bella was a big part of that.”
“As a transfer last year I was so nervous,” said Lyles. “I’m grateful to Coach Fineran, who gave me the chance to play varsity.
“I would also like to thank my mom,” Lyles added. “She has been one of my biggest supporters and went to every game she could make this year.”
Lyles credits her teammates for a successful season. “I’m so proud of my team,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch to play with. We really became a family. One of our best moments was our Senior Night against Pope John when we clinched a playoff spot. We fought hard and played with spirit. We all played hard and I’m so proud of that.”
Next year Lyles hopes to continue her playing career in college. “Volleyball is a part of me,” she said. “I don’t want to give it up.”
Willcox delivers big plays
Receivers Likely, Norcia, Sainristil also excel
By Cary Shuman
Everett wanted a quick start against a high-scoring Central Catholic team and Jake Willcox was again superb in leading the offense in a 34-point first half.
With Central seemingly committed to blanketing Everett’s phenomenal contingent of wide receivers, Willcox threw his first pass to tight end Jalen Smith, who had found an open spot behind the Central defense and chalked up a 57-yard gain.
Isaiah Likely had two touchdown receptions and made a couple of sensational, leaping catches. Likely had six receptions for 67 yards and also threw a 36-yard pass to Anthony Norcia late in the first half.
“Jake puts the football in the right place and only I can get it – he’s a special player,” said Likely. “When I make a catch, what’s important is that the catch gives us another opportunity to score.”
Likely said he’s happy to have the opportunity to play at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s my first time ever, so I’m really happy,” said Likely.
Likely credited his fellow receivers, recognizing that many observers recognize Everett for having the best passing game and wide receivers in Massachusetts.
“It doesn’t matter what coverage we face, because we adjust,” said Likely. “If we drop the football, we don’t put our heads down. We pick each other up and go on to the next play and make a big play after that.”
The 6-foot-5-inch, Division 1 college prospect also singled out the offensive line for its work on the road to the Super Bowl.
“We get great offensive line play – you couldn’t ask for anything better all season,” said Likely. “They put the running backs in the end zone and they act like they’ve scored a touchdown.”
Likely is looking forward to taking the field at Fenway Park for the Thanksgiving game and Gillette Stadium for the Super Bowl.
“It’s first time ever, so I’m really happy,” said Likely.
Norcia had seven receptions for 129 yards and a touchdown, rising above a Central defender to make a nifty catch in the end zone.
Mike Sainristil had four catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
Wilcox is generating All-Scholastic talk and his statistics are laying a strong foundation to potential postseason accolades. Wilcox is 96-for-130 for 1,967 yards with 25 touchdowns and two interceptions.
“We did exactly what we practiced all week,” said Willcox. “We got a lot of reps going during practice so by the time we came out here it was second nature.”
Asked specifically about having the trio of Likely, Norcia and Sainristil as his targets, Willcox responded, “I have the best receivers in the state, definitely by far. And you can’t forget about [Jason] Maitre, too.”
The Everett defense was outstanding in the first half, keeping Central’s UNH-bound quarterback Bret Edwards under control. Duane Binns was a standout in the half while Lewis Cine had a big sack of the quarterback.
Through three quarters, Everett had only allowed 90 yards in total offense. But Central exploded in the fourth quarter for 203 yards of offense, three touchdowns and 23 points.
Everett placekicker Ciao Costa had a 39-yard field goal and just missed on a second attempt. Everett players seemed to believe that the kick was good, but the referees ruled otherwise. Costa saw his streak of 41 PATs in a row ended when Central blocked his kick following Everett’s fourth touchdown of the game.
Everett will be playing Xaverian in the Super Bowl. Everett defeated Xaverian, 38-7, back in the Homecoming game in Week 1. The Hawks have been on a roll in the Division 1 South sectional, defeating Attleboro (44-6), Needham (28-0), and Catholic Memorial (35-7) to earn a rematch with Everett in the Super Bowl. Everett bested the Hawks, 21-7, in last year’s Super Bowl at a packed Manning Field in Lynn.