EVERETT, Mass. -– While making the Division 1 North championship game may be reason to celebrate for many teams, the Everett Crimson Tide (8-1) were all business following their 21-0 victory over an energized Lowell (6-3) squad on Friday night.
The Crimson Tide defense was outstanding, forcing Lowell star quarterback Brian Dolan into three interceptions and a forced fumble. Wisconsin-commit Lubern Figaro had two of those interceptions, while Lukas Denis reeled in a pick and Angel Duarte had a bevy of tackles for the secondary.
“It feels amazing, but we’re not done yet," Figaro said. "It’s the road to Gillette...We’re not done yet, there’s still business to be done."
Figaro, who was on Lowell receiver Jack Galvin in the first half before switching to safety in the second, helped keep one of the top receivers in the state to just two catches all night.
“I’ve been watching film on him all week,” Figaro astutely announced. “I had to keep him quiet, cause he’s the best player on their team. They put me on him, so I had to stop him.”
Everett running back Isiah Davis got the Tide on the board first in the second quarter, running in a 13-yard touchdown to put the finishing touches on a 12-play, 62-yard drive that cut a significant amount of time off the clock. By keeping Lowell off the field and the ball out of Dolan’s hands when they were on the field, Everett was able to control set the tempo for the game very early on.
“We decided early on that we were going to put heat on Dolan, we weren’t going to sit back. We saw what he did to St. John’s Prep -- he picked them apart,” Everett coach John DiBiaso said. “We gambled and we put some heat on and we got to him quite a few times. I thought our defensive line and linebackers did a good job. If you’re gonna do that, your DB’s have to play well, and they did.”
The Red Raiders were able to accomplish very little offensively, as 68 of Ngaiiva Mason’s 113 yards rushing came on one play early in the first quarter.
“The defense effort was strong the whole game, we came out and were shooting ourselves in the foot on offense. I thought our defense held us in the game during the first half,” DiBiaso said.
Davis took a helmet to the knee on the last play of the first half, suffering a bone bruise that would leave him out the rest of the game. The Everett crowd and sideline was silent after Davis hobbled off the field, but the Crimson Tide didn’t appear flustered at all following the break.
“Luckily we punched one in and it was 7-0, but it was the defense that kept us in it early, and set the tone the entire game,” DiBiaso said. “When Isaiah went down, we didn’t miss a beat. We moved Lubern back to safety and he had two picks, Lukas had a pick there, but it was more of the defense.”
Josh Palmer recovered Dolan’s fumble midway through the second half, setting up the Crimson Tide with prime field position at the Lowell 17. Marquis Holman got the ball on three straight carries, and scored on the third, extending the Tide lead to 14-0.
“I thought the key to the entire offense was Holman, he ran his fanny off. He softened them up the entire game, he set the tone for the outside, he set up all the outside plays. We pounded them inside, and the offensive line, they deserve the credit,” DiBiaso said.
The offensive line, with just one senior, stands as the least experience position of the squad, but DiBiaso is hoping that the standout running performance against Lowell will carry over to Central Catholic next week.
“I’m hoping we can build on this. We’re getting better and getting a lot of maturity out of some young kids—hopefully we can step it up one more time,” DiBiaso said. “We’ll be playing a very good team in Central who won [35-0] tonight. We have another challenge.”
The younger players sure won’t have a problem with being held accountable. Figaro, like his coach, has high expectations for the defense.
“We’re trying to be the best defensive team in the state. Always stepping up and doing what we have to do on defense,” Figaro said, “I had to show out for my team. It’s the playoffs, and big time players make big time plays.”