Soccer was in his blood but football was in his heart.
Kenny Calaj, whose father Marcos played soccer in Brazil becoming coming to the United States in 1993, tried soccer but switched over to football at an early age. He played Pop Warner football before taking his still developing skills in to the Everett High football program as a freshman.
Four years later Kenny Calaj takes his place among the Everett High football program’s winningest and greatest all-around players. As Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire noted at the Crimson Tide football banquet Sunday, Kenny Calaj is one of only three Everett High players to start in four Super Bowls, joining quarterback Matt Nuzzo and lineman Carlos Ruiz in that illustrious category.
Calaj, who excelled on both sides of the ball, helped Everett win three consecutive Super Bowl titles, sealing the 2012 championship and the No. 1 ranking in Massachusetts with an interception late in the fourth quarter of a 20-19 victory over Barnstable at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro.
“I saw the Barnstable quarterback drop back and get rushed out of the pocket and there was a receiver that was open,” said Calaj about the play of the game. “I just pursued that guy and got a pick.”
Calaj said he and his fellow seniors developed a special bond in the program, training diligently together in off-season strength and conditioning workouts and setting high goals for each season.
“I’m so proud of our senior class that won three Super Bowls,” said Calaj. “Knowing that you’re one of the few players to get three rings ever is really great. There have been so many excellent players at Everett High. To even be considered in that group is humbling for me.”
During his first three seasons, Calaj was a contributor to Jonathan DiBIaso’s record-setting career that saw him become the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes.
Calaj said the number ‘1’ was his first choice for his Everett High football jersey, following J.W. Forte, another Crimson Tide great who also wore that number.
The 5-feet-11-inch All-Star player said he was honored to play football for coach John DiBiaso for four years.
“He’s a great coach,” said Calaj. “I learned a lot from him since I was a little kid. It’s great to have a franchise coach like that.”
Marcos Calaj said he’s happy with his son’s decision to focus on football after playing soccer and basketball.
“He started playing Pop Warner football in 2002 with coach Peter Forte,” recalled Calaj. “Everybody said he had a good future in football. He had been an aggressive soccer player and he brought that style over to the football field. He also played AAU basketball and Everett High basketball. But I’m so happy he played football. I’m proud of him.”
Kenny Calaj will be continuing his football career at Springfield College.