Crimson Tide Pop Warner Teams Begin Practices

This is where it all begins, the early foundation for the state’s most successful high school football program.

These are the practice fields where such all-time greats as Gennaro Leo, the Nuzzo brothers, Frank and Matt, George Paone Jr., Jonathan DiBiaso, former Everett High quarterback Jake Willcox, Michigan Man Mike Sainristil, and Lukas Denis (Tampa Bay Buccaneers) learned the game and went on to win schoolboy Super Bowls.

It’s where the unsung heroes of President Brian Dimond’s Crimson Tide Pop Warner organization, the legendary coaches such as Chucky Leo, George Paone Sr., Frank Cafarelli, and Peter Forte Sr., turn youths into champions on the field and off.

 And the cheerleading program is also among the best in the Bay State, with no less than four teams qualifying for the National Championships in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. one year ago.

The football and cheerleading teams were practicing at beautiful Sacramone Park Monday and the mood was upbeat and optimistic under the bright sun.

Everett will field five football and cheerleading teams with more than 250 boys and girls competing this season.

The biggest change in Pop Warner football is the elimination of weight limits across the board. Football players will compete by age only in U-6, U-8, U-10, U-12, and U-14 divisions.

“There are no weight limits, no restrictions at all,” said President Brian Dimond, who is in 29th season in Pop Warner football. “All of Pop Warner nationally has gone away from being age and weights based to just age. I like the new format.”

The cheerleaders will participate on the traditional A, B, C, D, E (and possibly) F teams. All teams will be eligible for the state playoffs and the national championships which are held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida.

Everett will open its regular season on Sunday, Sept. 8 in the American North Division of the 40-team Eastern Massachusetts Conference. Other teams in Everett’s division are Somerville, East Lynn, West Lynn, Revere, Malden, Chelsea, and East Boston.

“This is the first week of pads and the numbers look good,” said Dimond. “We scrimmage Brockton on Saturday.”

Football Coordinator Chucky Leo, who led Everett to an appearance in the National Pop Warner Super Bowl, expects the football teams to be playoff contenders.

“Things are looking very good,” reported Leo. “Our top three teams (U-14, U-12, U-10) are very strong. I have a new head coach [Chris Wade] at the U-8 level who has been with us as an assistant and they have some skilled athletes at that level.”

Wade played in the Everett High football program where he was a defensive end and offensive guard. Some of his linemates were Patrick McGrath, Danny Izzo, Ralph Faia, Doug Hanlon, and Dan McFarlane. Wade was a member of one Super Bowl championship team.

Leo likes the new age only format with no weight limits. “It gives more kids a chance to play,” said Leo, who is beginning his 41st season of Pop Warner football in Everett, second in history to Peter Mangraviti, who had 45 seasons.

Leo said the organization is proud of Everett’s incomparable football tradition.

“We’re proud of that down here that all of our kids end up being starters and going on to college,” said Leo. “That makes us feel great. We’re happy with what we do. We think we do a real good job done here.”

Dimond said that boys and girls can still register for the season nightly at Sacaramone Park. Interestingly, one of the parents registering his son for the program Monday was Everett High head football coach Theluxon Pierre, whose son, Bryce, will be playing for the Crimson Tide U-6 team.

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