By Cary Shuman
What a great feeling it was for coach John DiBiaso and the Everett High coaching staff to see everything they worked on all week executed so flawlessly by their players on game day.
Offense. Defense. Special teams. You name it and Everett did it well against St. John’s Prep on Homecoming Day at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Everett impressed all the alumni and guests in the packed home stands by delivering a 35-14 victory over the Prep. The win sets the stage for a huge showdown against undefeated Billerica Friday night.
The team-wide excellence started with special teams, where Everett sophomore Michael Sainristil electrified the home rooting section with a 95-yard punt return in the first quarter.
Sainristil (4 catches for 65 yards, 3 TDs) would add to his breakout performance by catching two touchdown passes from senior quarterback Jordan McAfee (12-of-15, 136 yards), who looks poised for a brilliant season on his way to the University of Connecticut.
“I thought the play that turned the game around was the punt return,” said DiBiaso about Sainristil’s show-stopping effort. “It was a 0-0 tie at the time and the punt would’ve pinned us down inside our own 5-yard line. He made a nice catch of the ball and he made a nice play on the return and everybody blocked.”
DiBiaso also praised McAfee’s leadership of the offense in the post-game interview.
“He made much better decisions,” said DiBiaso. “I think now that he’s healthy as well – last year he had a tough year health wise – he’s doing what we expected him to do and right now he’s on a roll.”
If Saintristil and McAfee were the main event, then senior Chris Jenkins was the star of the undercard, racing 82 yards for a touchdown that truly took the starch out of any St. John’s comeback hopes.
After the Everett defense stopped a Prep drive at the 18-yard line, the Tide needed just one play to score. Jenkins turned the corner, shook off some tacklers, and blazed his way to the end zone. It was a big-time run and showcased the Tide’s multi-dimensional offensive attack.
“We have great team speed everywhere and that’s what we try to take advantage of,” said DiBiaso.
Everett’s defense was immense against a St. John’s team that had put 33 points on the board against No. 11 Haverhill in the opener. Everett led 35-0 before the Eagles scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Defensive lineman Gerell Boyce had a noteworthy effort while All-Scholastic candidate Duval Paul, Weaverson Ulysse, and Eddie Owour held the Prep’s running game in check. Linebackers RJ Fialli and Duane Binns played very well while defensive backs Carlins Platel, Clarens Pierre, Gabrielle DeSouza, and Lewis Cine kept Eagles’ quarterback Mike Yarin and the passing game from reaching the end zone. Platel, a 6-foot-3-inch, 190-pound senior, had a key early interception.
Anthony Norcia, another member of McAfee’s talented receiving corps, had a nice 14-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the second quarter.
St. John’s Prep coach Brian St. Pierre said his team has played a tough schedule, going 1-2 against Haverhill, Central Catholic, and Everett.
“Our first three games – nobody else is playing the schedule we play the first three weeks,” said St. Pierre. “With an inexperienced team, sometimes it’s going to happen and obviously Everett is very, very talented and very athletic so it’s a tough matchup right now.”
John DiBiaso anticipates a difficult challenge from an explosive Billerica High contingent that has averaged 40 points a game in wins over Burlington, Andover, and Dracut.
“This win gives us a lot of confidence going in to Billerica and we expect a war Friday night,” said DiBiaso. “They’re one of the top teams in the state and we’re going up to their house so it should be a great game.”