By Cary Shuman
One big step remains in what could be an historic season for the Everett High School football team in its first season as a Division 1 independent.
Coach John DiBiaso’s unbeaten and top-ranked 2017 contingent will play Xaverian Brothers High School in the Division 1 Super Bowl on Saturday (8 p.m.) at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.
The vaunted Everett High program is seeking its second consecutive state championship and its 12th Super Bowl title. Everett has been ranked No. 1 all season, and with the Greater Boston League now disbanded and the Northeastern Conference not allowing it to compete in football, the team played a tough schedule that included a 35-7 victory over Xaverian on opening day in the Homecoming Game.
Everett, led by its outstanding junior quarterback Jake Willcox (more than 2,000 yards passing), a superb receiving corps in Isaiah Likely, Jason Maitre, Mike Sainristil, Anthony Norcia, and David Zorrilla, and two, powerful running backs in Kevin Brown and Jacob Miller, rolled past its six opponents in the regular season. The offensive line, led by 6-5, 295-pound senior Helber Fagundez also contributed mightily to the state’s most explosive offense.
One of the highlights of the season came in a 49-14 win over St. John’s Prep. It was the 300th win for coach John DiBiaso’s, adding another notch to his Hall of Fame coaching career. “He’s the greatest coach in the history of Massachusetts high school football,” lauded Supt. of Schools Frederick Foresteire after the game.
Everett continued to flex its muscle in the North sectional playoffs, beating St. John’s Prep and Lexington (before a massive crowd at Dr. Crumb Field in Lexington). In the Division 1 North final versus Central Catholic in Lawrence, Everett took a 37-6 lead in the game and then, in one of the only lapses of the season, allowed 23 points in the fourth quarter. Everett left Lawrence with a 37-29 victory and a Super Bowl bid.
Everett then faced Masconoment in a Thanksgiving eve contest at Fenway Park. It was a good test for the Tide, who emerged with a 36-20 victory, sparked by the heroics of Kevin Brown, who rushed for three touchdowns.
And now it’s rematch time against old foe Xaverian, whom the Tide defeated in last year’s Super Bowl, 21-7, at Manning Field in Lynn.
St. Pierre gives Everett the edge
St. John’s Prep head coach Brian St. Pierre, whose Eagles faced Everett twice and Xaverian on Thanksgiving (a 30-0 Xaverian win), gives Everett a considerable edge
in the Super Bowl showdown.
“I was just so impressed by Everett’s speed, their size – their overall athleticism is unmatched in the state,” said St. Pierre, who played quarterback at Boston College and in the National Football League. “They’re probably one of the best teams in the Mid-Atlantic region. They should be nationally ranked, no question. That team could play in a lot of places. They’re as talented a team as I’ve seen since I’ve been back in high school football the past four years.”
DiBiaso has seen Xaverian play since the opening day rout of the Hawks.
“That was Coach [Al] Fornaro’s first game as a head coachand they were playing some young kids,” said DiBiaso. “They had lost some some players to graduation, but they’ve gotten better and better over the course of the year. Xaverian concerns me more than a little.”
Looking back at the game at Fenway, DiBiaso said he loved the hospitality from Fenway officials and the support of the Everett fans, but he was not pleased by his team’s performance on the field.
“I love the way we were treated – they treated us awesome,” said Fenway. “The venue was fantastic, but I was not particularly happy with the way we played. We were sloppy.”
DiBiaso is looking forward to his team’s appearance at another prominent professional sports venue, Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots.
“I’m always excited to play at Gillette,” said DiBiaso.
Asked about the 8 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, which will make it one of the latest starting times in recent Everett history, DiBiaso’s jested, “You can’t argue about the menu or the venue. It is what it is. I think it’s going to be the same field at 8 o’clock as it is at 1 o’clock.”