Monday, September 5, 2011
No. 1 Everett hears pressure, doesn't see it
By Brendan Hall
John DiBiaso isn't having any of it.
No, the Everett head coach has been around way too long to get caught up in minutiae like, oh, the latest MIAA realignment bumping the Greater Boston League down to Division 1A. The spectre of postseason matchups with schools from the Big 3 or Catholic Conference -- of whom the latter many are routinely on the schedule -- have been replaced by contenders from the Dual County, Old Colony and Northeastern/Cape Ann Leagues, all considered inferior leagues to the ones with member schools that routinely appear on Everett's non-league slate.
"Last I looked, Bridgewater-Raynham beat Xaverian and Brockton last year -- I dunno, maybe I'm wrong," DiBiaso cracked with his trademark dash of bluntness. "I don’t know how good the teams from the Dual County League are gonna be, how good the teams from the NEC are gonna be, I don’t even know if B-R's gonna represent that league.
"Right now I'm worried about Leominster, and then next week Springfield Central. If I'm starting to worry right now about how we're looking for the playoffs, I'm not doing my job."
Nor is he having any of it when it comes to the critiques of two of his star players in spite of recent success. His son Jonathan threw for a state-record 43 touchdown passes last year to just four interceptions as the Crimson Tide handily won the Division 1 Super Bowl, yet he faces repeated criticism among the college scouting fraternity for his unorthodox, sometimes elongated, throwing mechanics.
"That is what the scouts and all those people say," he said. "I've been around this for 30 years. Pull out or Google Sonny Jurgenson, considered the greatest natural passer in the history of the NFL. Google him and watch his motion. There was big criticism about how his motion was too long, throws like a baseball and all that. All he did was become a Hall of Fame quarterback.
"Doug Flutie, Google him, watch his highlights, tell me he didn't have a long release. There's too many critics now, we're in the information age...My assessment with all my guys is if they can do their job and productively perform, that’s fine with me. We went 12-0 last year and they all did their job."
All that said, Jonathan has been working hard in the offseason on improving those mechanics in question, bulking up to 197 pounds and reportedly shortening up that release. We'll find out on Friday how that works out, and whether he still has that Byron Leftwich-esque throw from the hip -- but again, none of that is a concern to the overall bigger picture.
"It's like a little kid shooting a basketball. You see guys shooting from the waist and pushing up, but by high school they've adjusted because they're bigger and stronger," John DiBiaso said. "Is his motion textbook perfect? No, but neither is Tom Brady’s. Everyone says Aaron Rodgers has the perfect release. That's great, but Drew Brees doesn't have a perfect release and look how he's turned out. Not everyone has to be 6-5, 230 pounds and have a perfect release. You make do with what God gives you."
The elder DiBiaso doesn't stop there, making a case for senior Vondell Langston, an ESPNBoston Preseason All-State at linebacker and considered one of the state's elite at picking up the blitz in pass coverage.
Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane has a quote about this kind of stuff -- "we're not selling jeans" -- and that seems to be the larger point DiBiaso is making with his son and with the 6-foot, 220-pound Langston.
"I voice my opinion that he is as good a linebacker as there is out there," DiBiaso said of Langston. "I'm not trying to downgrade anybody else or put them down, but a lot of these guys are getting scholarships and I'm perplexed as to why he's not getting any, you know?"
Just a guess here...is 2011 the year of Everett against the world?
At the junction of Routes 99 and 16, it very may well be. But outside the Everett bubble, the perception is almost the reciprocal -- who's going to take down the juggernaut?
Two years ago, after taking a pounding up front in a shocking 48-14 loss to Dracut, the offensive line is undoubtedly among the state's toughest. Led by senior Nick Stanfield, the line will average nearly 275 pounds across. All are juniors with the exception of Stanfield, and from that junior John Montelus figures the get the most attention; the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder already has four BCS offers despite not turning 16 yet, and has begun drawing comparisons to former Somerville great and current Lions tackle Gosder Cherilus.
DiBiaso feels this year's group has improved at run blocking. Asked if the team will be more balanced in its playcalling as a result, DiBiaso panned, "It just depends on what they give us. Teams that are gonna drop eight guys in coverage, we'll run it down their throat. If they bring seven into the box, we'll throw the ball."
The biggest holes to fill are at the top two wide receiver spots, where the Tide graduate arguably its best 1-2 punch in school history in Manny Asprilla (Boston College) and Matt Costello (Princeton). A pair of promising juniors will step into the void in Kenny Calaj and Jakarrie Washington, the latter of whom is expected to fill Costello's deep-ball role.
Defensively, look for the Tide to be stout up the middle, with Langston and senior Chris "Buck" McCarthy calling the shots at linebacker and defensive tackles Milton Lopez and Paul Markini plugging gaps at defensive tackle. Senior Ralph Jonathas appears to be on the path of a breakout campaign in 2011 after promise at the end of last season.
EVERETT AT A GLANCE
Coach: John DiBiaso (20th season at Everett, 239-63-1 overall)
Last Year: 13-0, won Division 1 Super Bowl
Key Returnees: Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr. QB, 6-1, 197 lbs (2,885 passing yards, 43 TD, 4 INT); Vondell Langston, Sr. RB/LB, 6-0, 220 lbs; Ralph Jonathas, Sr. DE/TE, 6-2, 215 lbs; Buck McCarthy, Sr. RB/LB, 5-11, 190 lbs; Nick Stanfield, Sr. C/DL, 6-4, 230 lbs; Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR/S, 5-10, 195 lbs; Jakarrie Washington, Jr. WR/DB, 5-10, 175 lbs; John Montelus, Jr. OT, 6-4, 290 lbs; Jaleel Wingard, Sr. WR/DB, 5-8, 160 lbs; Mark Fils-Ames, Jr. OG, 6-1, 270 lbs; Mike Ottersburg, Jr. OG, 6-1, 310 lbs; Pat Sullivan, Jr. OT, 6-1, 270 lbs; Gilly De Souza, Jr. WR/K, 5-11, 165 lbs; Milton Lopez, Sr. DT, 5-10, 275 lbs; Paul Markini, Sr. DT, 6-3, 220 lbs.
Strengths: Passing game, speed, offensive line, linebackers
Weaknesses: How do you replace Manny Asprilla and Matt Costello?
Outlook: Everett is famous for the faithful's incredibly high standards on the gridiron, and with a demotion to Division 1A in the latest MIAA realignment, anything less than a Super Bowl victory will be devastating in Crimsonville. But certainly, the cards are stacked heavily in their favor. Jonathan DiBiaso is 26 touchdown passes away from breaking Tom Colombo's all-time state record of 85; and while the Tide graduated their greatest wideout tandem in school history with Matt Costello (Princeton) and Manny Asprilla (Boston College), there is still plenty of firepower at the skill positions. Washington and the Calaj showed promise as sophomores a year ago playing the opposite side of Costello and Asprilla, and figure to make a smooth transition. On the line, the guy to watch is undoubtedly Montelus, who has four offers from BCS conference schools despite still being 15 years old. Defensively, the secondary will be stout as usual, while Jonathas should bring some considerable heat off the edge.