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Hawks survive Everett’s second half comeback surge to begin 2023 campaign

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After falling to Xaverian, Tide football looks to rebound against Somerville tonight in the home opener


By Joe McConnell


The perfect measuring stick for any high school team to see how they stack up each year is to play clubs that have a tradition of winning for decades. But when both teams meet the same criterion, these games give the respective coaches a good idea on what they still have work on to maintain that level of success.

Last Friday night, the Everett High School football team, under the direction of its new Head Coach, Justin Flores, took on host Xaverian to begin a brand-new campaign in Westwood. The Crimson Tide, however, came up short, 32-21. But regardless of the outcome, each program has a history of winning.

Everett has won 29 Greater Boston League (GBL) titles over the years beginning in 1955. They won the Division 1 Super Bowl 12 times: in 1997, 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017. They captured the national championship twice: in 1914 and 1915.

The Hawks also have a successful legacy. They have won 10 Division 1 state championships over the years spanning six decades. All that winning started in 1966, followed by conquests in 1967, 1986, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2009, 2014 and 2015. The 2015 team was ranked the 22nd best team in the nation by USA Today. They also had two quarterbacks – Matt and Tim Hasselback – who went on to have long National Football League (NFL) careers. Matt graduated from Xaverian in 1993, and Tim in 1996. Tim helped lead the Hawks to the 1995 state title.

Matt’s son Henry is Xaverian’s starting quarterback this fall. Hasselbeck is destined for Michigan State next year after committing to the Big 10 school in June. He’s also surrounded by a number of other prospective D-1 college players, and together they just might be facing Everett again in the Super Bowl in early December at Gillette Stadium. Last year, Xaverian was ranked fifth – Everett 11th – in the final Division 1 state rankings.

Currently, both teams are ranked in the Top 20 in the state after one week. The Hawks are No. 4, while the Tide is 19th overall.

The Everett boys, who also have a number of D-1 recruits, found out much about themselves in last week’s game, including that they can compete once again with the best in the state. “We expected to be in this game until the very end,” said Flores, “and we did just that, which tells me we are a team with a lot of fight and heart that won’t back down from anybody.”

Flores came away from this game with many positives. “I was most impressed with how our defense stayed strong, even though they were put in bad situations by the special teams and offense at times,” he said. “I was also impressed with how explosive the offense was in the second half. After the game, I just told them that they can’t let big mistakes happen in big games like this one. It will cause us. I also said to them that I was encouraged by the fight they put up, but we must now get ready for GBL season, and the next challenge ahead of us.”

Chris Zamor, who’s heading to Boston College next year, was the team leader in touchdowns with two against the Hawks. He was on the receiving end of a 33-yard pass from quarterback Carlos Rodriguez to begin the furious second half comeback, before hooking up with halfback Jayden Prophete (10 rushes, 35 yards) for a 75-yard scoring strike on an option play. Rodriguez then tacked on two more points on a conversion pass to Jaysaun Coggins to trim the deficit to eight in the fourth quarter, 29-21.

Yariel Ortiz (1 reception, 26 yards, 1 touchdown) got things going offensively for the visitors by catching a 26-yard TD pass from Carlos Rodriguez in the first half. Everett trailed at halftime, 17-6.

Two Hasselbeck touchdowns in the second half increased the home team’s advantage to 23 points. But the Everett boys weren’t giving up, led by Zamor’s two aforementioned scores.

Flores said Zamor (2 receptions, 108 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Rodrigues were the offensive stars of the game, while Prophete (6.5 tackles, 1 interception) and Zamor (6 tackles) again stood out on defense. Matt Lamonica (2 rushes, 16 yards on offense; 5 tackles, 1 sack on defense), Kevin Diaz (3.5 tackles), Dom Papa (7.5 tackles), Shane Mackenzie (1 tackle, 1 sack), Pedro Rodrigues (5 tackles), Jalen Jones (1 tackle), Aidan Duclos (4 tackles), Jeremiah Jeanlouis (3 tackles), Mark Sylvain (1 tackle), Jason Stark (1 tackle), Donald Michel (2 tackles), Ortiz (3.5 tackles) and Prophete (1-for-1 passing, 75 yards, 1 touchdown) also made contributions in this game.

The Tide now returns home to face Somerville in the GBL opener tonight (Sept. 15), starting at 6 p.m. Flores says that fans should expect the Highlanders to do a lot of running on offense, and to combat that strategy his team must be physical on defense. “We need to start to execute more consistently on offense to have success against Somerville,” the Everett coach added. “I think we have the ability to bounce back, but we won’t know until [tonight] when the lights come on. But so far in practice this week, they have responded with tremendous energy.”


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