FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Every day this fall, when Matt Costello opened his football locker at Everett, staring him in the face was a newspaper clipping that reminded him of last season’s 29-0 Super Bowl loss to Xaverian.
“That was motivation for me all through the year,” said the senior receiver and Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the year. “The first thing we said after the game last year was that, ‘Next year, this isn’t going to happen again.’ ”
It didn’t. Costello reeled in 11 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns to help the Tide beat St. John’s Prep, 31-7, in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl.
His performance gave him a record 23 touchdown receptions on the season and spearheaded an Everett attack that was just too fast for the Eagles.
The Tide’s spread offense more than doubled St. John’s Prep’s total yardage (422-201), while quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso (16-21, 248 yards) threw three touchdowns and spread the ball to four different receivers. Boston College-bound Manny Asprilla outran defenders for 162 total yards, and DiBiaso broke out of the pocket to rush for 63 yards on 11 carries.
“We knew that [the Eagles] were big and strong,” said Asprilla. “But we knew that speed kills. And we had the speed.”
The Tide also had the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandem in the state, which put on a display under the Gillette Stadium lights. The two have been teammates for years on different sports teams since DiBiaso was 10 years old, and their time together has fostered a chemistry that allowed them to complete passes almost at will.
“We’ve put in the time and the effort to just put in the plays and the routes,” said Costello. “He’s throwing it before I’m breaking so it’s there when it needs to be.”
Defensively, Everett allowed St. John’s Prep past their 20-yard line just once. It happened when the Tyler Coppola ran 49 yards for a touchdown on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage in the first quarter.
“We obviously wanted to drive down the field more than we did,” Coppola (22 carries, 151 yards) said. “Their defensive backs are fast, their linebackers are fast. It’s hard to block them…They contained us.”
After Coppola’s touchdown, Everett answered — emphatically. The Tide scored on its next five consecutive possessions.
DiBiaso and Costello connected for their first score with 5:35 left in the first quarter to tie the game at seven. After forcing St. John’s Prep into a three-and-out, the Tide ran a 12-play drive, capped by a two-yard Asprilla touchdown run.
Costello scored again on a 10-yard reception with 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make it 21-7 at halftime.
“You try to press [Costello], he’s going to run by you,” said St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “You back off, they’re going to throw underneath…It was the yards after catch that killed us, he’d catch it and he’s making moves and he looks like he’s going to breaking kids ankles out there.”
Gilly DeSouza kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:46 left in the third quarter, and it wasn’t long before Everett struck again. They forced a turnover on downs — their second of three in the game — and 40 seconds later, Costello capped his day with a 36-yard touchdown reception.
“We knew they weren’t built to come from behind,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso of the Eagles run-based possession-style offense. “We’re moving, moving, moving. That’s how [we’re] conditioned. That’s just the way we’ve played.”
With Everett’s eighth championship in the Super Bowl era, Costello can now throw away that old newspaper clipping and replace it with a much shinier reminder of the success he shared with his teammates this season: a Super Bowl championship ring.
“I can always just look at that,” Costello said, “and know that that team was my last and it was great.”
Everett – 7 14 3 7 – 31
St. John’s Prep – 7 0 0 0 – 7
SJP - Coppola 49 run (Nick Pesaturo kick)
E – DiBiaso 29 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)
E – Asprilla 2 run (DeSouza kick)
E – DiBiaso 10 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)
E – DeSouza 22-yard kick
E – DiBiaso 36 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)
Matt Stout contributed to this report.