EVERETT, Mass. -- Only in Everett can you beat a regional rival 47-12 and come away from the post-game handshake moping towards the edge of the field.
Yet that is the attitude for the Crimson Tide tonight, after avoiding a Leominster scare early to put this one away by the end of the third quarter. Jonathan DiBiaso finished the night 16 of 30 passing for 256 yards, four touchdowns and one ill-advised interception into double-coverage at the goal line; but like several other key cogs on the Crimson Tide, he fell victim to cramps at some point in this game, just one of several focal points for improvement.
"That's on us. Kenny Calaj's legs were cramping up. Jakarrie [Washington], his thighs were cramping up," he said. "And me, my lower body was cramping up every single drive. So to say winning 47-12 tonight, breaking in all these new wide receivers, we take good out of it, but we have a lot of work to do."
Just 27 seconds after Vondell Langston (68 total yards, 2 TD) took a shovel pass from a yard out for the game's initial score with 7:25 left in the opening quarter, the Blue Devils (0-1) punched right back, with junior quarterback Garrett DelleChiaie setting up a play fake and finding Kyle Sanders wide open in single-coverage down the right sideline, connecting with the speedy senior for a 77-yard fade. DelleChiaie found Kevin O'Connor in the back right corner one play later on a rollout, cutting the lead to 7-6.
It took all of two plays for the Tide (1-0) to respond, with DiBiaso finding Jaylen McRae deep over the middle for a 64-yard touchdown pass, and 13-6 lead with 6:26 still to go in the first.
But the Tide are far from satisfied, and still looked rusty in some areas of their game -- yes, rusty. For one, they committed three turnovers tonight (one pick, two fumbles); for another, the no-huddle tempo negated the conditioning of not just the Devils, but Everett's own players as well.
"There's a lot of things we have to improve upon," the elder John DiBiaso, Everett's head coach said. "The fact that we got outta here with a win, scored 47 points and we didn't play good, I'm still...I gotta look on the bright side, the glass is half-full rather than half-empty.
"I think we'll improve on a lot of things. We'll get the cramp situation worked on. But a lot of that was caused by our tempo, so that's a good sign. We were pushing that tempo, fast breaking the whole night, and we kinda wore them down to a point where...you know, you saw the second half."
Some other observations from tonight:
Breaking Them In: Following up the electric tandem of Matt Costello and Manny Asprilla is going to be a tall task for just about any program in the state, and by my count the new wide receivers being broken in tonight had about half a dozen drops. (Again, only in Everett do you leave points off the board in a game like tonight). Certainly the speed is there, which is why Jonathan had no problems tossing up deep balls to Washington and McRae -- two guys expected to fill Costello's deep-route role -- even though a few sure-fire touchdown passes slipped out of the fingertips.
Aside from the touchdown strike to McRae, Jonathan did his most damage on short routes over the middle and to the flats, with Langston and Kenny Calaj (82 total yards, TD) the primary beneficiaries. Both are well-built and tough players to take down in the open field, and they proved as much tonight, plowing through a handful of arm tackles.
"Before you go short, you've gotta go deep," John DiBiaso said. "They're coming up on you, you've gotta prove you can go by them. I thought we got by them, we finished a few of them, we had some near-misses. That's just timing. I'm not disappointed with the receivers, I'm not disappointed with the offense. I think the potential's still there. We just gotta get a little more experience for the kids that haven't played before."
Packing Punch: The Tide's offensive line is a bit on the green side, and suffered some breakdowns up the middle, but that might come to be expected when you have just one senior in the trenches in Nick Stanfield. But one of the positives I took away tonight was the footwork of left tackle John Montelus. At 6-foot-4 and a somewhat lean 290 pounds, the junior has yet to turn 16 and already holds four scholarship offers from BCS schools. He showed why tonight, demonstrating the balanced posture requisite of a left tackle to get that maximum punch on the first step.
"They did a good job protecting him," John DiBiaso said. "And like I said, last year when Jonathan would spin around, Matty or Manny would make these catches...these guys aren't there yet. They're gonna be good though."
Said Leominster head coach Dave Palazzi, "He's a great left tackle, and we did what we could."
Silver (and Blue) Lining: So here's the good news for Leominster. Next week they've got to deal with Hudson and Bryant-bound super back Karl Sery, an ESPNBoston Preseason All-State athlete. But tonight's run, chasing down Langston and Calaj, should have them more acclimated for stopping one of the most versatile threats outside the I-495 loop. While Hudson isn't going to air it out 40 times a game, the Hawks are tough in between the tackles and can give you fits with their read option out of a variety of formations.
"Yeah, I mean, hey, we were chasing them [Everett]," Palazzi said. "We're chasing receivers all night, quarterbacks, rushing the quarterback, so this is the era we're in -- throwing the ball, running and chasing the guys. We were ready for it, they didn't do anything we didn't think they were going to do, but when it comes to matchups and DiBiaso being a senior -- he made some nice plays, with some speedy wideouts -- I mean, you can't shut down a team like that totally.
"But we did shut them down a couple times, and force some turnovers which I was happy with. But unless you're driving on offense the whole game, it's hard to stop those guys on offense."
EVERETT 47, LEOMINSTER 12
LHS --- 6 6 0 0 - 12
EHS --- 13 15 13 6 - 47
E - Vondell Langston 1 pass from Jonathan DiBiaso (Gilly De Souza kick) 7:25
L - Kevin O'Connor 6 pass from Garrett DelleChiaie (rush failed) 6:58
E - Jaylen McRae 64 pass from DiBiaso (kick failed) 6:26
E - Ralph Jonathas 17 pass from DiBiaso (Kenny Calaj run) 7:11
L - Josh Caouette 10 pass from DelleChiaie (rush failed) 3:08
E - McRae 7 pass from DiBiaso (De Souza kick) :43.9
E - Langston 6 run (De Souza kick) 6:47
E - Calaj 1 run (kick failed) :52.6
E - Joey White 6 run (rush failed) 5:58