The Tradition Continues

Crimson Tide Pop Warner begins practices

Brian Dimond was a very good center and outside linebacker for Everett Pop Warner football teams in the 1980s. One of his coaches was none other than the great Chuckie Leo.

Dimond, 50, is beginning his 30th year of involvement in Everett Pop Warner and 16th year as president of the Crimson Tide Pop Warner youth football and cheerleading organization. Leo is starting his 43rd consecutive year in Everett youth football.

“Chuckie coached me on the ‘C’ team and we lost only one game that year,” recalled Dimond Monday at the Tide’s preseason practice session at Sacramone Park. “Chuckie was as enthusiastic about football and as funny then as he is now.”

Dimond, Leo, and the other leaders of Crimson Tide Pop Warner have welcomed more than 200 football players and cheerleaders to the program for the 2021 season. It’s anhigh turnout following a challenging year in which the COVID-19 pandemic forced cancellations last fall (Everett managed to play a Pop Warner spring season against regional teams in 2021).

And while some Pop Warner programs, including Chelsea, are not returning this fall, Everett looms ready to pick up where it left off: as a contender for state and national championships in football and cheerleading.

“We’re humbled by the turnout and the numbers keep growing every night, so that’s a good thing,” said Dimond. “We’re one of the organizations that seems to have teams at every level of football, and we have four out of five levels of cheerleading.”

The Everett football teams will play an eight-game regional schedule as a member of the Eastern Mass. National Division. Billerica, Dracut, Chelmsford, Reading, and Lawrence will be among the opponents. The first game is Sunday, Sept. 12. “I think we’ll definitely make some noise at every level,” said Dimond.

 The chief executive officer of Everett Pop Warner was asked why Everett has been able to sustain its success through the decades.

“Here I think we credit it to the high school,” said Dimond. “The high school keeps doing well, so the younger kids want to play on that field and wear the gold helmet. That carries a lot of weight around here. And our cheerleading teams are also excellent. Their turnout keeps growing. Our cheerleading teams always make a great showing at Nationals.”

Leo back for another run

Chuckie Leo knows football. For starters, he understands that the Everett High-Xaverian High football game will reveal a lot about the Crimson Tide’s 2021 season, and whether Coach Rob DiLoreto’s contingent will be a major contender again for the Super Bowl. This past spring during an abbreviated season, DiLoreo led the Tide to a 4-0 record, including a big win over an undefeated Revere team by a convincing margin.

Leo’s son, Gennaro Leo, is a former Boston Globe Player of the Year and arguably made one of the greatest plays in the program’s history when John DiBiaso chose to “go for two” in a Super Bowl game against Bridgewater-Raynham. “Leo’s Leap” into the end zone over the pylon for the 8-7 victory continued Everett on its three decades of dominance in Massachusetts high school football under DiBiaso.

Chuckie’s daughter, Everett High cheerleading coach Taylor Leo, was also in attendance at Monday’s practice, as was her son and Mr. Leo’s grandson, Mance McKinney, a future Crimson Tider.

But Monday Chuckie Leo was focusing his sights on Everett Pop Warner football. He was watching intently as Coach Frank Cafarella led his 10-under  team through a drill. Cafarella’s sons, Frank Jr. and Matt, are part of the coaching staff.

“We have a lot of young, talented players in our program from talented families,” said Leo.

Indeed, two of Everett High’s most outstanding players, senior Ish Zamor and sophomore Chris Zamor, are graduates of the Crimson Tide Pop Warner organization. Ish has committed to Boston College while Christian has reportedly received an offer from the Division 1 Eagles. The Zamors’ younger brother will be playing for the 10-under team this season.

With Chuckie Leo and Brian Dimond leading the charge once again, the tradition of Pop Warner football excellence in Everett will be continuing this fall, with no goal unattainable.

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