By Cary Shuman
There were more than 50 playoff games Friday night but only one team put 28 points on the scoreboard in the first quarter.
And that was the No. 1-ranked Everett High School football team, who struck early and often on its way to a dominating 49-14 victory over a traditionally strong St. John’s Prep at Everett Memorial Stadium.
The win, which was the 300th of head coach John DiBiaso’s career, sends Everett in to an intriguing Division 1 North semifinal matchup at Lexington High Friday at 6 p.m. Everett and Lexington are two of the highest-scoring teams in Massachusetts and their offenses are led by outstanding quarterbacks in 6-foot-1-inch junior Jake Willcox and 5-foot-9-inch Sal Frelick.
Willcox set the tone for the explosive first quarter with a 77-yard touchdown pass to Jason Maitre, who caught the ball in the middle of the field and outraced the SJP secondary to the end zone. Placekicker Ciao Costa, who was a perfect 7-of-7 on PATs, booted the conversion for a 7-0 lead.
But Willcox and the Everett offense were just getting started. Senior receiver Isaiah Likely caught a screen pass from Willcox and raced 42 yards to the end zone.
Kevin Brown, who has become an unheralded force in the running attack, scored on a 41-yard run to make it 21-0. The quarter concluded with a beautifully thrown touchdown pass to Likely, who caught the ball in stride for a 54-yard strike.
“Jake’s a really good quarterback who’s very diligent,” said Likely. “We’ve clicked well. He can get out of the pocket and hurt you on the pass or the run.”
“Isaiah beat his defender and the second I saw the situation, I knew Isaiah had the upper hand and he made a play,” said Willcox.
Monte Campbell (3 yards) and Jaden Mahabir (8 yards) each had touchdown runs. Mike Sainristil made the defensive play of the game when he returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown.
Linebacker Duane Binns and Lewis Cine led a superb effort by the Everett defense who limited the Prep to one touchdown in the first half.
DiBiaso said his team took control of the game in the first quarter.
“The kids played fantastic,” said DiBiaso. “I thank them. They really stepped up to the plate. What a first quarter – 28 points in the first quarter against a tremendous Prep team.”
Anthony Norcia had the crowd on its feet very early, but his 82-yard kickoff return was nullified by a penalty.
Isaiah Likely made a terrific block on Kevin Brown’s 41-yard run for a touchdown.
Everett set up a flea flicker well and caught the Prep defense off guard, but David Zorrilla’s pass just missed the open receiver.
A group of St. John’s Prep fans enjoyed a pre-game tailgate in the Silver Fox parking lot.
Lexington defeated Andover, 52-33, in its playoff opener. The Minutemen, led by the elusive Sal Frelick (who has a college baseball scholarship to Boston College), will present the toughest test of the season for the Everett defense.
You can expect a mammoth crowd in Lexington, a sports minded and very historic town. The first shots (“The Shot Heard Around the World”) of the Revolutionary War were fired in Lexington on April 19, 1775.