By Seth Daniel
Shortly before 8 p.m. on Saturday night, the Everett High band took their front-row seats at Gillette Stadium and began belting out the school’s typical fight songs.
Fans from Everett, players from the past, and excited parents and relatives of current players began filing into the lower deck of the professional football stadium – under bright lights and a massive JumboTron that ramped up the excitement for the thousands of fans ready to do battle for Everett and Xaverian High Schools.
It was a Super Bowl atmosphere, and Everett came prepared.
A message was sent early as the Everett fans cheered loudly when their team took the field.
In the seats, Crimson Tide gear was on every fan.
Many wore the red and tan ‘State Champ’ jackets that have become so familiar throughout the years.
Some were from 2010, others from last year’s 2016 team.
Still others were from year’s past.
It sent a message.
The Tide and its fans were at Gillette to win, not just to participate.
For many parents, it marked the first time that they had been to Gillette in some time. Last year, the Super Bowl championship team won the hardware at Manning Field in Lynn.
The last time the Tide played for all the marbles in Gillette was in 2014 when they lost to Xaverian. Everett hadn’t won the Super Bowl in Gillette since 2012.
“This is my second time watching a Super Bowl for my son, but the first time I have watched it in this professional stadium where the Patriots play,” said Raymonde Sainristil, mother of Tide star receiver Mike Sainristil. “Last year it was in Lynn, so we didn’t get to come here. This year it’s a privilege to come to Gillette Stadium to watch my son. I am very proud and very excited.”
The same was true for Fricot Milfort, whose son Kemerlin Milfort was on last year’s championship team in Lynn.
“We are for Everett wherever they play,” he said. “It’s great to come to this stadium ,and we are very happy to support the kids. My son won last year, and it’s exciting to come back and watch others.”
Former Tide players were also in abundance throughout the seats of Gillette.
Former Tide running back Joe D’Onofrio – now at Anna Maria College – was happy to travel to Gillette to see his alma mater try to win it all.
“We’re always here to support the Crimson Tide,” he said, sitting with friends Kevin Almeida and Stephen Faia. “We love to watch them and to see what’s new and what formations they’re running.”
Throughout the Stadium one could find teachers, city councilors, active community members and business leaders – all on the edges of their seats throughout the first half when Xaverian kept it close.
Others, like the Raduazzo and Meninger families, were there to encourage their relatives.
Frank Raduazzo said he felt it was very important to support his nephew, Giovanni – a junior linebacker.
“He’s a good kid doing the right things,” he said. “You have to support them when they’re doing all the right things.”
Sometimes that means traveling en mass all the way from Everett to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
James and Tonita Yazdek, parents of Tide star linebacker Duane Binns, said they brought a crowd.
Tonita said they had at least 20 friends and family members there to see her son play his last high school game. Decked out in customized shirts and red stocking caps that read ‘Binns 43’ in gold glitter, they were making a statement.
“We brought a lot of people,” she said. “We wouldn’t have missed it. We knew what we were getting into.”
And what they got into was a special celebration on the field and in the stands at the conclusion of the winning effort. Fans, students, family and friends mingled with players as the stadium emptied out.
It was a championship effort on the field this football season, but it was also a great effort in the seats as well.