Jake Willcox emerges as one of the best quarterbacks in Massachusetts
By Cary Shuman
A star was born in the 2017 football season.
Jake Willcox, who had excelled at the Pop Warner level but was beginning his first year as Everett High’s starting quarterback in August, put together a sparkling campaign, culminating with 205 passing yards and two touchdowns in a 35-10 victory over Xaverian in the Division 1 Super Bowl Saturday at Gillette Stadium.
“It’s a great feeling to win the Super Bowl,” said Willcox. “We worked hard all year for it. All the hard work finally paid off. All the stairs in the summer, the lifting, everything – that’s the reason we do it, to go out there and finish it off and win the Super Bowl with my teammates.”
Seniors Anthony Norcia and Isaiah Likely were on the receiving end of Willcox’s scoring strikes.
“They got open, and they both made great catches,” he said humbly. “My receivers were amazing all season. That’s the best receiving corps in the state. Anytime I put the ball near them, they make a play.”
Willcox, a 6-foot-1-inch junior who has received an offer from Division 1 Bryant University, completed his All-Scholastic-worthy season with 2,340 yards and 28 touchdown passes. He worked closely with coach John DiBiaso, assistant coach Dennis Willcox (Jake’s father) and assistant coach Rob DiLoreto through the season.
“Coach DiBiaso really helped me out and took me to the next level,” said Willcox. “He helped me with my footwork, going over film, making the right reads.”
After the trophy was presented to the Everett captains, Willcox told the media, “This is the best feeling in the world – I can’t imagine anything better than now.”
Jake shared a memorable post-game moment with his father, Dennis, joining him for a photo on the Gillette Stadium turf. Three years ago when Jake was an eighth grader and his father was the coach of the Everett Junior Crimson Tide ‘A’ team, Everett won the national Pop Warner championship, defeating a team from Reno, Nevada, in the Super Bowl.
“My dad coached me all the way through Pop Warner,” said Jake. “He’s a great coach. I love that I get the chance to be along his side and have him guiding me through everything. He really is the man who pushes me and gets me ready to go.”
Norcia makes his presence felt in Everett’s Super Bowl victory
By Cary Shuman
So which of Anthony Norcia’s great plays in the Super Bowl will stand the test of time: his nine receptions and one touchdown or his key block that sprung teammate Kevin Brown on his 98-yard touchdown run?
Norcia, recipient of the Bouvier Jewelers Award at the ‘E Club Banquet and a no doubt, a soon-to-be All-Scholastic selection for the second year in a row, truly saved one of the best performances of the season for his last. Norcia had a big, 28-yard touchdown reception early in the second half, stretching Everett’s lead to 21-10 on the way to a 35-10 victory.
“The bigger the game, the better that kid plays,” lauded teammate and quarterback Jake Willcox. “When the game’s on the line, you want to put the ball in his hands.”
Norcia was happy to answer this reporter’s question about The Block.
“I had the block on the outside,” said Norcia. “It’s a designed block. That’s my job so I just did my job well. I took out the defensive back. He was cutting down in, so I hit him so Kevin could bounce outside. I felt he could go all the way. Kevin’s fast.”
Anthony Norcia Jr., the pass-catching wide receiver, was pretty good at Gillette, too. Most importantly on third-down plays, Norcia found the open space in the Xaverian secondary and Willcox delivered the ball on cue.
“I had a lot of third-down catches, so I was helping us move the chains which is kind of my role in the offense,” said Norcia. “So I played my part and everyone else played his part, and we all executed well.”
Norcia said that Willcox’s timing and accuracy were top-shelf versus Xaverian, especially on the throws just inside the sidelines.
“Those are the toughest throws you can make,” said Norcia. “The ball was thrown before I looked back and once I looked back, the ball was already there.”
Following a noteworthy Pop Warner career for such coaches as Dennis Willcox, Victor Ruiz, Rick Pulsifer, John Willcox and Chris Carrabino, Norcia became a three-year starter for the Tide.
He said he enjoyed all aspects of his football experience with the best there is in Everett football coach John DiBiaso.
“Playing football for coach DiBiaso was a pleasure,” said Norcia. “He’s one of those guys that not everyone gets the opportunity to play for, and it’s like a true blessing playing for him.”
Though winning a Super Bowl in 2016 before a packed house at Manning Field in Lynn was a career highlight, the list-topper for Norcia was Saturday’s state title at the home of the New England Patriots.
“My favorite game of all time was the Super Bowl at Gillette – definitely,” said Norcia, who had a large family delegation, including his parents, Anthony Sr. and Amy, in attendance. “It was awesome, unforgettable. As a senior to go out like that, it was the best feeling ever.”
He will miss the camaraderie of his EHS football teammates, notably fellow receivers Mike Sainristil, Jason Maitre, Isaiah Likely, and David Zorrilla.
“We had a crazy bond, all of us,” said Norcia. “The way we were together was something you see in college. It was an unforgettable season with those guys and they worked so hard in the off-season. We came together as brothers.”
BC-bound Maitre leaves a lasting impression
By Cary Shuman
Jason Maitre will take his talents in August to nearby Chestnut Hill, where he will continue his football career as a defensive back for the Division 1 Boston College Eagles of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The multi-talented, 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound senior left Everett football fans with one last reminder why he’s been so valuable to the Everett program the past three years. In one of the most important but also most unsung plays of the 35-10 victory over Xaverian in the Super Bowl, Maitre caught a Xaverian running back from behind and saved a touchdown.
“It was 21-10 and they [Xaverian] had momentum,” said Maitre. “Their running back broke out for a big run, and I caught him from behind and I stopped him. We ended up stopping them on the goal line which changed the game around.”
The 17-year-old son of Ginette Chachat, Jason was a three-year starter for the Crimson Tide. He helped Everett win a Super Bowl in 2016 and was confident that if the team worked hard, a repeat was possible.
“I definitely felt another Super Bowl was possible, but we needed the discipline and the work,” said Maitre. “And even though we were winning early in the season, we were not all the way there yet being a team, but we pulled it all together, and we were all a brotherhood. We put it together and won the Super Bowl.”
Maitre cherished his role of being a team captain
“Being a leader was one of the big contributions I made this season, along with being a good role model to the underclassmen,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of Everett’s senior class, Maitre said he will miss playing football for the legendary coach, John DiBiaso.
“Coach DiBiaso is a great coach and a great guy, even outside of football and sports,” said Maitre. “He’s helped me through a lot and he’s helped me get my game to where I am now. To be able to win the last 19 games of my career, I’m happy for my guys and thankful of everything and everybody who led me through on this journey. ”
He’s grateful to the Everett community for its support.
“I had a great experience playing Everett football,” said Maitre. “The people here are great and football is big here. The teachers congratulate you on a good game and everyone is just engaged in everything.”
Maitre feels he is leaving the defensive backfield in good hands, with his friend, Lewis Cine, a superb Division 1 college prospect, returning next season.
“He’s like my brother,” said Jason. “Ever since I moved from Florida in the sixth grade, we’ve been playing football together. We just clicked and it’s been a great bond and it’s been a pleasure playing football with him this season.”
Maitre is happy with his choice of school and the opportunity to be play big-time college football. Current player Lukas Denis and former defensive back Jim Noel are other Everett stars who landed at BC.
“I feel good about BC,” he said. “They’re on the rise. They came together this season and they’re playing in a bowl game and I’m looking forward to being a part of that next year.”