By Julian Cardillo
The Everett High School football team accomplished three things last Saturday at Gillette Stadium: They captured the school’s 12th Super Bowl by beating Xaverian (35-10); they concluded the season unbeaten (11-0); and they gave head coach John DiBiaso Jr. a send-off for the ages. DiBiaso, the Crimson Tide coach since 1992, announced his retirement shortly after his team’s big win. This season will go down as a memorable one for DiBiaso – who will leave Everett on June 30 as athletic director, football coach and basketball coach – and serve as a gold standard for Massachusetts high school football.
The Crimson Tide entered last weekend’s clash with Xaverian in a challenging spot: They had beaten Xaverian three times in a row – including in last year’s Super Bowl – but, in DiBiaso’s own words, they had put on a sloppy display the day before Thanksgiving in a victory against Masconomet. But Everett rallied and found their stride, making history and lifting another state title.
In the end, the same was true of the Super Bowl as of the rest of Everett’s games this season: The Crimson Tide offense is just too good. Everett took a 14-10 lead into halftime, then exploded in the second half with 21 more unanswered points. Xaverian couldn’t keep up with Crimson Tide quarterback Jake Willcox and all his options, and the rest is history.
The first half was as tight as the final box score suggests. Everett opened the scoring as Mike Sainristil returned an interception for a 43-yard touchdown. Sainristil scored again in the second quarter, this time with a three-yard end zone rush, but the Hawks were still in the game. A touchdown and a 20-yard field goal of their own kept it tight at halftime.
Then, the Crimson Tide broke free and found a way to shut down their opponents. Willcox recorded two touchdown passes in the second half. One was a 28-yard pass to Anthony Norcia in the end zone; the other was a 14-yarder to Isaiah Likely. Sandwiched in between both scores was an incredible 98-yard touchdown run by Kevin Brown. Crimson Tide kicker Caio Costa converted every extra point attempt he was afforded. Brown’s run set the pace for big yardage. He had three carries and 126 yards to go with his score.
Norcia had nine catches for 124 yards. Also on the rush were Jason Maitre (one rush, 20 yards), Sainristil (three rushes, eight yards) and Jacob Miller (three rushes, four yards). Likely caught two passes for 29 yards, and Jalen Smith had seven yards on one catch.
Willcox was his usual active self; along with his two touchdown passes he rushed five times for 39 yards and was 14 for 25 in the air with 185 yards. “There’s not a better feeling than winning a Super Bowl with all of my best friends,” Willcox told reporters. “The dudes I love – going out there and just giving it their all.”
DiBiaso’s successor will inherit a talented group of players when the new beginning starts next summer. DiBiaso has already stated he won’t be involved in the hiring process for his successor.
And while DiBiaso is now focused on basketball season, which starts next week, this title will one both he and his players can enjoy for years to come.