If it’s not the state’s best football rivalry, it’s certainly the best one north of Boston.
Every year, it seems, Everett High and St. John’s Prep are ranked in the top 5 in the state, as was the case Saturday when the two teams brought their undefeated records into Everett Veterans Memorial Stadium on a beautiful late-summer afternoon.
The game lived up to expectations as the No. 1-ranked Crimson Tide held off a second-half surge by St. John’s to earn a hard-fought 26-14 victory.
The Eagles (2-1) were driving toward the potential go-ahead touchdown with a 1st-and-10 at the Everett 38-yard line. The Eagles picked up 6 yards on three rushing plays before Chonlee Cine made a crucial break-up on a fourth-down pass play, giving Everett the ball.
That’s when senior Mike Sainristil took a handoff and raced 66 yards along the sidelines to the end zone, giving Everett (3-0) a 26-14 lead with 59 seconds to play. Sainristil showcased his blazing speed, outracing virtually the entire SJP secondary to the goal line.
“He’s [Sainristil] a great player,” said St. John’s Prep coach Brian St. Pierre. “I told him after the game that I enjoy watching his film and I appreciate his talent and I wish him good luck.”
Quarterback Duke Doherty (12-for-22, 225 yards passing) had another stellar performance, completing touchdown passes to Eli Auguste, Isaac Seide, and Tyrese Baptiste. Doherty’s first-quarter strike to Auguste covered 54 yards for a touchdown. Alexander Betancourth’s PAT made it 7-0.
St. John’s tied the game at 7-7 on a 1-yard run, by Aise Pream. The Eagles stopped Everett on the ensuting possession, but sophomore Egan Gouveia made a momentum-turning play when he made a diving recovery of a fumble after the Eagles’ punt returner misplayed the football.
Isaac Seide caught a 7-yard touchdown, using a nice block by Sainristil to motor in to the end zone.
Baptiste TD reception with 2:15 left in the half made it 20-7.
But the Eagles regrouped in the second half, closing the margin to 20-14 on Anthony Fagan’s 15-yard reception on the last play of the third quarter.
Auguste’s interception momentarily thwarted the Eagles’ momentum, but the re-energize Prep drove to the Everett 38-yard line in the final minutes. The Prep coaching staff opted to run the ball on three consecutive plays before Cine made his huge defensive play to derail the upset-minded Eagles.
Everett coach Theluxon Pierre felt his defense played well when it was tested in the fourth quarter.
“I think our defense is the strength of this team,” said Pierre. “I’m happy we got the ‘W,’ but I’m very happy how we came together at the end and that builds team chemistry a lot.
“This was a playoff atmosphere and that’s what we need – competition,” said Pierre. “You get competition like this in the regular season, it only helps you in the long run.”
And in the long run there could be an Everett-St. John’s rematch in the state playoffs. Prep coach Pierre, for one, sees it that way, stating, “As fate always seems to have it, we’ll probably see these guys down the road.”