Boston High School: Kenny Calaj

Healthy at long last, Calaj makes his mark

December, 1, 2012
Kenny CalajEric Adler for Sidelined for most of the season with an ankle injury, Kenny Calaj shined in Everett's thriller over Barnstable, and sealed the game late.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -– Senior Kenny Calaj never expected he would spend as much time in the swimming pool as on turf this season for Everett football, but a high ankle sprain in the preseason certainly changed his plan.

Finishing last year on a short list of contenders for this fall's ESPN Boston All-State Team, the dual-threat at linebacker and half back was shifting into the lead back role for Everett football on its quest for a third Super Bowl, but after the injury was left playing only a few sporadic plays during the regular season.

Unable to put pressure on his ankle, the senior found the water the perfect place to do the work he could not on the field.

“I told him a long time ago I had seen (Barry Sanders) hurt his knees and ankles in the pros,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso. “(He) did a lot of pool work to get back, because there is no stress on your (ankles).”

At North Suburban Orthopedics, Calaj worked his cuts for the field, practiced rolling his ankle and ran through the resistances of water to keep in shape. Combined with a little ice and some stretching with bands, Calaj was ready on Super Bowl Saturday for not only his first full game, but his biggest play of the season.

“I was in the swimming pool every single second,” said Calaj. “A lot of running back and forth. Trying to swim while rotating all my ankles.”

Calaj may have had only 10 carries for 31 yards against Barnstable (11-1) in the Division 1A EMass Super Bowl, but showed the extra step he gained in training on defense in the last few minutes at Gillette Stadium. The Tides' lead linebacker eyed Barnstable senior quarterback Nicholas Peabody rolling out of the pocket around the Tides' 40-yard line and scrambling for a pass opportunity to cut away at a 20-19 Everett lead. Undercutting a cut-back pass to senior Manny Perry, Calaj grabbed an interception on the Everett 38-yard line to finish the Red Raiders' final possession.

A Tide man-coverage defense fronted by Calaj held a pass-heavy Barnstable team, who averaged 36.69 points per game, to 297 yards and 19 points, while forcing two interceptions.

“I made a read that he was going out so I was going to play off a little bit,” said Calaj. “As soon as he threw it I was going to cut in front of him and intercept the ball. I had been hurt all season so I needed to make this play for me and my teammates.”

Calaj remembered his team's 13-7 overtime loss in September to Barnstable all too well during the interception. The four-year starter had to sit in the rain on the sidelines and watch the 28-game win streak he had help make be snapped. After scoring early on a two-yard run by fellow senior Jalen Felix, the Tide could have used Calaj athleticism as they were held scoreless for the final three quarters.

“It was just frustrating because I really could not do what I usually could have done,” said Calaj.” “I was playing with two high ankle sprains (so) I really could not hit the holes like I wanted to. I was going to change that today.”

Recap: Everett 20, Barnstable 19

December, 1, 2012

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- For a brief moment late in regulation, Everett's quest to win a third straight Super Bowl was in serious jeopardy.

“Honestly, this one's been more stressful than any of the previous 10,” Everett head coach John DiBiaso said Saturday after his No. 2 Crimson Tide clinched the Eastern Mass. Division 1A title at frigid Gillette Stadium, 20-19, against No. 1 Barnstable. “I am emotionally, physically, mentally drained.”

Factors that caused DiBiaso to admit exhaustion included five turnovers committed by Everett (11-1), a fortuitous missed fourth-quarter extra point that kept Barnstable from forcing a 20-all, and Kenny Calaj's near fumble while the three-peat champs were killing the clock.

“I knew I was down because I felt my elbow hit the ground,” said Calaj, who intercepted standout quarterback Nick Peabody on Barnstable's previous, and final, offensive possession. “That's when it popped out.”

In real time, it appeared Calaj fumbled with 79 seconds to play. Kevin Hardy pounced on the football. Barnstable (11-1) prepared to take over roughly 30 yards from paydirt – and perfection.

But the officials – without the benefit of replay – quickly convened and ruled Calaj down by contact. The stadium scoreboard showed the replay, and it confirmed Calaj's interpretation of the play.

“It was tough to be on the end of it that we were,” Barnstable head coach Chris Whidden said of the call that saved the Tide from a sixth turnover.

Barnstable – which vaulted to No. 1 with its 13-7 double overtime upset of Everett on Sept. 28 – wasn't without its chances, however. The Red Raiders capitalized on just one of the turnovers they forced. Peabody fired a 9-yard first-quarter touchdown to Tedaro France (3 receptions, 93 yards, 3 TD) that pulled the Red Raiders within 7-6.

After France caught Peabody's perfect back-shoulder throw, the Tide caught their first break. A bad point-after snap led to a failed run.

Jakarrie Washington (9 carries, 121 yards, 2 TD) reclaimed momentum for Everett early in the second. Showing excellent vision, he saw a gap along the right edge, cut back before the hole closed, and raced 53 yards down the sideline.

Washington's 6-yard run inside the right pylon pushed Everett's lead to two touchdowns late in the third.

Barnstable's feverish comeback started with 15 seconds left in the frame – and just 44 seconds after Gilly De Souza split the uprights for a 20-6 lead.

Peabody hit France on a sideline route, and the receiver did the rest. He stayed upright after tangling feet with his press-coverage defender, made the catch, then beat De Souza to the goal line on the strength of a sensational maneuver at the 35.

Everett's fourth-quarter false start on fourth-and-1 led to a punt. Peabody (8-for-28, 205 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT) orchestrated a three-play drive that led to points. The QB eluded multiple defenders, buying time for France to slip past the secondary and make a wide-open 30-yard TD grab with 7:26 to go.

Dereck Pacheco's PAT attempt had the height. But it was off-target.

“It's never one kid's fault. It's never the offense, defense or special teams. You win games like this as a team, you lose games like this as a team. Our kids are as strong as they've ever been.”

The Tide? They're just a little bit stronger.

“We earned it. We worked hard all season long, worked hard for the past three years,” Washington said. “We just proved that we're the best.”

Josh Palmer and Calaj each intercepted Barnstable's gunslinger signal-caller, and both picks were critical in the outcome.

Palmer's INT turned into a 30-yard TD return on the game's seventh play from scrimmage. Calaj ended Barnstable's last-ditch effort.

Those plays were set up by teammates who pressured Peabody without being touched once the ball was snapped.

C.J. Parvelus set up the pick-six with a well-timed blitz. Everett's linebacker rushed untouched over center and forced a quick release by Peabody. The soft, 5-yard toss was intended for France, but Palmer jumped the rout.

Defensive end Jeff Soulouque exploded off the right edge in the final minutes. Peabody felt the pressure and rolled out of the pocket.

“I saw him (off the snap) and said, 'I have to get him. I have to at least make him feel uncomfortable because he is a great quarterback,'” Soulouque said. “I ran him down, he felt uncomfortable and threw it for an interception.”

Overshadowed by the five turnovers was Everett's ability to extend drives. Fueled by Washington's 121-yard performance, the Tide converted third downs at a 40-percent clip (4 of 10).

By contrast, Barnstable was 1-for-12 on third down (8 percent).

“I thought we moved the ball on offense well. We ran the ball real well,” said DiBiaso, who called the numbers of Jalen Felix (12 carries, 40 yards), quarterback Raheem Wingard (11-10), Joey White (7-25) and Calaj (10-31). “We just made some stupid, stupid mistakes.”

No. 2 Everett 20, No. 1 Barnstable 19
Everett (11-1) 7-6-7-0 – 20
Barnstable (11-1) 6-0-7-6 – 19

First quarter
E – Josh Palmer 30 INT return (Gilly DeSouza kick), 7:32
B – Tedaro France 9 pass from Nick Peabody (run failed), 2:42

Second quarter
E – Jakarrie Washington 53 run (kick failed), 9:31

Third quarter
E – Washington 6 run (DeSouza kick), 1:09
B – France 76 pass from Peabody (Dereck Pacheco), :15

Fourth quarter
B – France 30 pass from Peabody (kick failed), 7:26

ESPN Boston Week 2 football picks

September, 14, 2012
NO. 19 AUBURN (1-0) AT HOLLISTON (0-1)
The Skinny: Retribution is on Holliston's mind after last year's tough 14-13 loss in Auburn, and they'll face an uphill battle in trying to return the favor on their own turf. The Panthers fell to a talented Stoughton squad last week, while Auburn looked sharp in an easy victory over Shrewsbury. Holliston's Max Athy is a playmaker on defense, but the Panthers will have their hands full against an Auburn offensive line that averages nearly 280 pounds across and has been playing together for the last two seasons.

Co-editor Scott Barboza: The Panthers have some nice athletes on defense, the Rockets line simply takes over. Auburn, 28-14.

Co-editor Brendan Hall: Rockets will win again, and this time there will be no dispute about it. Auburn, 21-6.

The Skinny: The last three results of this early-season rivalry have been decided by a total of five points, with D-Y holding a two-game win streak in the series, making this the fiercest non-Thanksgiving rivalry on Cape Cod. Barnstable figures to have the advantage offensively, with Nick Peabody leading a potent and speedy attack that is coming off a 55-3 blowout of Durfee, but the Dolphins have always devised a great defensive game plan to slow things down. The key matchup might be in the trenches, where Barnstable center Tom Grimmer is expected to square off with D-Y tackle Joe Tyo.

Barboza: I think the rivalry factor keeps this game closer than it might look otherwise. Barnstable, 25-21.

Hall: On paper, the Red Raiders have an advantage in many facets of this game. But they don't call it a "Backyard Brawl" for the seafood chowder. I'm hoping to get out of Hyannis in one piece after this one.

Barnstable, 21-20. NO. 6 LONGMEADOW (1-0) AT NO. 18 ST. JOHN'S OF SHREWSBURY (1-0)
The Skinny: St. John's may have answered any offensive questions with its 47-point outburst over Holy Name last week, but may have raised defensive ones by allowing 40 points and over 460 yards rushing. The road doesn't get any easier this week, with some calling this Longmeadow's best shot at getting an elusive win over the Pioneers. As usual, they'll do it behind a surgical Wing-T scheme, with an all-senior line led by Rob McClure and Lou Calabrese. Pioneers quarterback Andrew Smiley looked impressive in his varsity debut, and he'll be hoping for another big day from Shadrach Abrokwah to open up the middle of the field again.

Barboza: I think Longmeadow is able to play ball control and keep St. John's offense off the field. And it doesn't matter where Frankie Elder is lined up, he makes it happen. Longmeadow, 20-13.

Hall: Much like Holy Name last week, this is the year Longmeadow has to beat St. John's. But if this turns into a track meet again, I don't like the Lancers' chances. St. John's, 30-20.

The Skinny: A season ago, Central rolled into Everett Memorial Stadium and was swiftly handed a 42-13 loss. The Golden Eagles have grown up a lot since that fateful night in Everett, reeling off 10 straight wins en route to the 2011 D1 West Super Bowl, and return many key components, including quarterback Cody Williams and defensive tackle Shawn Lockett. Everett remains unsettled, with running back Kenny Calaj's status up in the air and the quarterback situation a mystery. Last week, the Tide resorted to Gilly De Souza under center, even though he'd never played the position before, but he got the job done in a 29-7 win over Leominster. The biggest question might be whether the Eagles' secondary can contain Everett's talented perimeter players, specifically Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Barboza: Similar to Everett's matchup with Leominster last week, Central is a strong team in its own right, but just not enough to dethrone King Crimson. Everett, 34-21.

Hall: Central might have its own "Honey Badger" (the good kind, of course), but the Tide have "Felix The Cat". Everett, 35-14.

No. 21 NEEDHAM (1-0) at No. 20 MANSFIELD (1-0)
The Skinny: Both teams rolled in the season openers last week, but this one could go down to the final seconds. The Rockets had a tremendous performance last week from Mike Panepinto (8 carries, 181 yards) running behind a line anchored by tackle Mitch Hildreth. Meanwhile, Mansfield claimed a 49-15 romp over Westfield. Alex Ruddy led the Hornets on defense, racking up 10 tackles (8 solo) in last week’s win and will be a key to slowing down the Rockets’ rushing attack.

Barboza: The scoreboard at Mansfield might malfunction trying to keep up with the scoring in this one. Needham, 35-34.

Hall: We could honestly see 800 yards of offense in this one. Mansfield, 38-34.

No. 9 BROCKTON (1-0) at No. 22 READING (1-0)
The Skinny: The question is what the Boxers will do with the momentum they gained while shutting out BC High last week. Will they ride the wave and roll over the Rockets? Or does this game have let down written all over it? The matchup to watch will be watching Rocket-armed Reading quarterback Drew Belcher operating against the Brockton secondary led by Micah Morel. Boxers QB Auggie Roberts had a huge week against BC High, running to the tune of 139 yards and two touchdowns, so the Rockets will need to slow down the triple-option threat if they’re to defend their home turf.

Barboza: Made this pick in the preseason when we projected out Brockton’s record through the first month of the season. Boxers are moving to 2-0. Brockton, 25-21.

Hall: Since Reading head coach John Fiore is a big pro wrestling fan (just like Scott and I), my gut tells me the Rockets will deliver a Stone Cold Stunner under the bright lights. Reading, 21-20.

NO. 17 NORTH ATTLEBOROUGH (1-0) at NO. 13 BC HIGH (0-1)
The Skinny: BC High will assuredly enter this one ticked off as a bull after failing to get on the board against Brockton in Week 1. But what the Eagles will look like on offense is a whole other deal. Brendan Craven joined BC High's growing MASH unit against Brockton and should be out a month. On the other hand, North enters with a modicum of momentum after dispatching Rhode Island's No. 1 squad, La Salle Academy. Alex Jette went off for 346 all-purpose yards while scoring three touchdowns as our Player of the Week for Week 1.

Barboza: I think the X-factor is the Red Rocketeers' offensive line, which is athletics as ever, but also one of the biggest lines Don Johnson's ever seen in his tenure. North, 14-13.

Hall: I'm getting antsy here. If BC High can't pull this one out, I'm 0-2 with the Eagles and I might have to default on my mortgage. I'm still in debt to Galvo for my anti-Brockton picks. BC High, 13-6.

The Skinny: The question of this matchup might be how many passes are attempted. These teams love them some ground game and, why not? With running backs like Central's Santino Brancato and Prep's Alex Moore and Jonathan Thomas, there's not a lot of incentive for airing out the ball. This one is going to be settled with three yards and a cloud of dust.

Barboza: Even though these teams could end up in a ball-control kind of game, I think there will be a couple of big running plays to be had for either side. Prep, 31-20.

Hall: As they have done in recent years, the Raiders will find a way to make this game interesting. But if they don't, then you know Prep is for real. Prep, 24-10.
This season, we're trotting a new feature for football season that we started back in the spring. Each Wednesday, we'll pool the minds of our ESPN Boston staff and contributors to debate several hot button topics across the state in our Roundtable.

Without further ado, let's kick off the new season with these takes:


Brendan Hall, ESPN Boston High Schools Editor: Over the last decade, BC High has proven to be a program with enough sufficient depth to compensate when star players miss a significant time with injury. However, it’s different when you lose the quarterback of your defense, especially when it’s a player as special a talent as the Eagles’ Luke Catarius.

In the scrimmage against Mansfield, after Catarius went out with the ankle injury, the Hornets went to the underneath game and exploited the flats for big gains. There was also one big miscommunication in the secondary that allowed Kevin Maki to wheel right through the middle of the deep field for a 45-yard completion. Not that this won’t be shored up before Friday’s big tilt with Brockton, but it is worth pointing out.

The good news, obviously, is that the Eagles’ Catholic Conference season doesn’t start until late October – but with Xaverian and St. John’s Prep looking sharp, it will be obvious if this team isn’t in proper shape. With that in mind, I expect Brandon Owens’ role at outside linebacker to have an even bigger significance than before. The pressure will also be on the front four, led by Jaleel Johnson, to buy the back seven time.

Scott Barboza, ESPN Boston High Schools editor: In terms of talent, I think the Eagles can get along. My greatest concern for BC High’s defense without Catarius relates to communication. The linebacker has been the leader of the defensive huddle, with messages from the sideline passed along to the inside linebacker. On field, Catarius was the quarterback of the defense as well, not only knowing his own responsibilities, but that of his teammates. That comes from knowledge of the system and cannot be replicated; it only comes through game-condition experience. The Eagles have a bevy of returning starters on the defensive line and secondary to shoulder the load but this one hurts. Will they rely on Brandon Owens to not only be the feature back, but take on more Catarius’ two-way role? We saw what happened last year when Preston Cooper went down at running back and how Deontae Ramey-Doe filled those shoes. So perhaps this will be more of the same for a deep Eagles’ squad. But a player of Catarius’ ilk cannot simply be replaced.

Adam Kurkjian, ESPN Boston correspondent: Without question, losing one of the top two-way players in the state will have a negative impact on BC High. The Eagles will not be able to replace his production easily and there may be an extra loss or two that comes down their way early on because of it. That said, if he is back by the time Catholic Conference play rolls around, BC High will still be one of the favorites to make it back to the playoffs. But still his loss cannot be understated.

Bruce Lerch, ESPN Boston correspondent: Believe it or not, I think the Eagles will be fine defensively. Obviously, Catarius is a one-of-a-kind talent with the ability to singlehandedly change opposing offensive gameplans. BC High will simply lean more on the unit as a whole rather than an individual to bail them out, as Catarius often did with his read and react style of play. Linebackers Danny Collins and Brandon Owens are leaders, defensive linemen like Billy Breen and Jaleel Johnson will take up blockers and make a few plays on their own, and the secondary will have to be more active in supporting.

Oddly enough, I think it's on offense where the Eagles may miss Catarius the most. A bruising fullback, Catarius helped pave the way for Preston Cooper and Deontay Ramey-Doe to pile up yardage last season. New backs Owens and Skyler Evans, along with a mostly inexperienced line, would have benefitted greatly from having Catarius leading the charge.

John Botelho, Editor-in-Chief, South Shore Sports Journal: I'm not even sure this Luke Catarius injury will have any real impact on BC. And I don't mean that as a slight to Catarius - in fact, I think he's the best linebacker in the state. My point of view though is this is a non-issue for the Eagles for two reasons.

First of all, replacing Catarius obviously wouldn't be easy, but aren't teams in the Catholic Conference best suited to replace someone they lose to an injury? Those teams are so loaded and so deep that it seems they have significant depth at every position. Or at least it seemed that way when Preston Cooper - who was arguably the best running back in the state in the first half of last year - went down with a broken ankle. All BC did was go on to win the Super Bowl as Deontae Ramey-Doe stepped in and the Eagles never missed a beat.

Secondly, and most important, is that BC doesn't open up league play until October 26 when they host Malden Catholic. I think even without Catarius, it'd be considered an upset if the Eagles lost that match-up. If it really comes to it, they don't need Catarius back until November 4th, week eight of the season, when they travel to Xaverian. It's reasonable to think that a hairline fracture would be healed up and they'd have him back by then.


Hall: The emergence of Springfield-area talent over the last few years is one of the best stories developing this fall. But in terms of pure talent, for me it’s got to be the Cape & Islands region.

Every year, there seems to be a Cape player that seemingly washes ashore to earn a Division 1 scholarship. Two years ago, it was Randall Jette from Martha’s Vineyard going to UMass. Last year, Nauset’s Brendan Battles-Santos surprising everyone at UConn’s prospect camp to earn a scholarship practically on the spot. This past summer, UMass dug back into the region to pluck 6-foot-7 tight end Terrel Correia out of Nantucket, with intentions of making him an offensive tackle.

We’ll obviously be watching Correia closely this fall, but he isn’t even the best player from the region. Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody is among the state’s best, with Ivy League interest. Mashpee has three athletes with Division 1 potential in tackle Nate Chrzanowski, running back Jared Taylor (he of the 300-yard epic last year at Gillette Stadium) and his new backfield mate Malik Lee, a Cape Cod Tech transfer with plenty of upside at 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds.

Also keep an eye on Dennis-Yarmouth’s Joe Tyo, who still has to fill out but is projectable with a long 6-foot-5 frame and some active footwork. Falmouth sophomore Craig Green will be an intriguing prospect to monitor, after running a 10.6-second 100-meter dash last spring at the New England Track and Field Championships. And as good as Darien Fernandez was on the basketball court for Wareham last winter, some believe he’s an even better running back.

Barboza: I’m looking no further than our statewide preseason Top 25 poll to find two Springfield squads (Central at No. 14 and Putnum at No. 23) and another (Springfield Commerce) knocking on the door. Central is retooled for another run at Longmeadow in Div. 1 West with some key returnees from last year’s squad that made it to Gillette Stadium. Quarterback Cody Williams could be a breakout performer this year and Shawn Lockett is a legitimate force to deal with on the lines. Melquawn Pinkney might be gone, but the cupboard’s not bare for Putnam with Wayne Lowery, shouldering more of the running load while playing lock-down corner. Sha’ki Holines (UConn) and Hassan Graham (not to be confused with the Patriots receiver of yesteryear) grade out at their positions against anybody across the state.

Kurkjian: This is a tough question because the season has not started yet, so it is hard to assess which region has the top players. As it stands now, though, the North Shore looks to have an overflow of top players if you consider Everett part of that region. Also, don't forget BC High's Brandon Owens hails from Salem.

Botelho: Last fall made it hard to argue with any region being more up-and-coming than the Cape. Four of the nine Eastern Mass. Super Bowl champs were from the Cape and Islands (Dennis-Yarmouth Div. 2A, Bourne Div. 3A, Mashpee Div. 4 and Nantucket Div. 5). Not only did those teams each win Super Bowls last season, but the Cape teams outscored opponents 120-29 in those games. Only Bourne had a competitive game, beating defending Super Bowl champ Hamilton-Wenham, 16-14.


Hall: There’s a lot of directions you can go with this one. The addition of Malik Lee, and his soft hands, to Mashpee’s already-dangerous backfield has to feel like a high school offensive coordinator’s dream. Out west, Springfield folks are excited about two potential breakout candidates in Putnam’s Wayne Lowery and Central’s Aaron Owens. St. John's of Shrewsbury's Shadrach Abrokwah is bound for a breakout in John Andreoli's new Oregon-style "blur" offense.

However, I’m going with BC High’s Brandon Owens. That he is already committed to a Division 1 FCS school (Bryant) despite only seeing part-time duty one way last season speaks to his upside. As a runner, there is no wangle to his makeup – he’s a north-south, one-cut guy with a powerful frame that accelerates quickly to hit the hole at full speed.

Losing fullback Luke Catarius for the first six weeks of the season means the Eagles may have to get more creative with their offensive sets. But after seeing him take the corner on toss plays out of “Ace” formations, in the Mansfield scrimmage, I think he’s up for any task the coaching staff throws at him.

Barboza: I think we’re all hedging that Malik Lee of Mashpee will have a monster season in his first year with the Falcons, but I’m going to buck the trend here and go with another runner inside the South Shore League. Abington’s Babila Fonkem tallied seven touchdowns (five of those came in one game against backyard rival Archbishop Williams) and ran for over 1,000 yards last season. I think the 5-foot-10, 180-pounder has the potential to more than double last year’s tally as a feature back during Jim Kelleher’s swan song as head coach.

Kurkjian: From the looks of it, Brandon Owens has had a spectacular preseason and he will be the feature back in what expects to be another punishing ground attack for BC High. It appears as if the Eagles have just reloaded there.

Lerch: Everett's Kenny Calaj is already something of a household name, having been an impact weapon in Everett's offense the past two seasons. The majority of that. however, came as a pass catcher. With a pair of untested quarterbacks still battling to replace record-setting Jonathan DiBiaso, not to mention a mammoth group of offensive linemen, it would only make sense for the Tide to return to the ground game and Calaj should benefit as the main ball-carrier. I'm not sure what the record for all-purpose yardage in Massachusetts history, but Calaj is in a position to do some historic things as a senior.

Botelho: Arcel Armstead is primed to have an elite year at running back for Bridgewater-Raynham this season. It's no secret that Dan Buron-coached teams run the ball as well as anyone, and with both Nick Schlatz and Brandon Morin gone, Armstead will be the featured back for the Trojans. His athleticism alone would be enough for him to have a big year in that system, but B-R returns their entire offensive line from a season ago, led by 6-foot-4, 260-pound Joey MacInnis, meaning the sky is the limit for Armstead.

Don't sleep on guys like Jon Hurvitz at Duxbury, who is the best athlete returning to the Dragons who will need to remake their identity a bit without Matt O'Keefe under center. Hurvitz runs hard and has a chance to be the first running back Duxbury has built their offense around in recent memory.

Also, the South Shore League seems littered with potential breakout candidates. Jared Taylor is probably the best well-known running back who was a back-up last season. He flashed his electric running ability in the Super Bowl to the tune of more than 300 yards. But he won't be the only guy terrorizing defense in the league.

Babila Fonkem returns to Abington for a senior year with added size from his 1,000-yard campaign a year ago. Brian Kilmain, a junior for the Green Wave, could give them the most dangerous two-headed backfield in the league.

Andrew Benson, who looks like he'll officially be a quarterback, is ready to break out at East Bridgewater. He could end up running for more yards than ESPN All-Stater Casey DeAndrade a year ago, for more than one reason. Last year, DeAndrade split carries with Tim O'Brien. While Benson will share the backfield duties with Kevin Lynch, he'll see a higher percentage of touches than DeAndrade last year. Also, E-B's offense was so explosive last year that DeAndrade (and O'Brien) had their numbers cut down because the Vikings had big enough leads that the starters weren't on the field a lot in the fourth quarter. Only when they played Abington and Mashpee did starters stay in the entire game. This year's team will rank among the best in the SSL, but I don't think they'll put teams away so quickly this time around.


Hall: This is going to upset some of our readers in the City of Champions, but there’s a realistic possibility of the Boxers coming out of the gate 0-4. Of those first four opponents – BC High, Reading, St. John’s Prep, Xaverian – nobody’s gotten worse from 2011, while I feel Brockton is still sitting in second gear after last year’s disappointing end.

That said, it sounds like Bryant-bound running back/defensive back Micah Morel will be ready for Friday’s opener against BC High after injuring his shoulder in the preseason, so that’s a positive sign. As for record, I think the Boxers will steal a game, either against Prep or Reading, to start off 1-3.

Barboza: Well, let’s go the tape … And hold me to this. I’m going:

Week 1, vs. BC High – Loss

Week 2, at Reading – Win

Week 3, vs. Xaverian – Loss

Week 4, vs. St. John’s Prep – Loss

That would make the Boxers 1-3 rolling into October. Then I think they rebound with three straight wins and finish out the season at 6-5 and represent the Big Three in the Division 1 playoffs as a very dangerous team after enduring a trying first month.

Kurkjian: With so many question marks surrounding this offense, it is hard to project exactly how the Boxers will fare. That said, this is a brutal start to the season. The feeling here is that Brockton manages to steal one and get off to a 1-3 start.

Lerch: It's a very real possibility that Brockton goes 0-4, and I think best case scenario is that they salvage a 2-2 mark. Any better than that and I wonder if the Catholic Conference would have an issue with adding a "league game" between Brockton and Everett to play for its championship.

Botelho: Brockton has the best program in state history. Literally. Their 751 all-time wins ranks first in the state by a wide margin (no one else even has 600 wins). They've also captured 11 Super Bowl titles in 40 years. That said, the last few years haven't been what Boxer fans are used to. They missed the playoffs two years in a row, and last season slumped to a disappointing 5-6.

All those struggles did was ignite something in the Boxers, who look primed to return to the postseason this season. I'm going to say Brockton gets through that portion of the schedule (one Peter Colombo said might rank as the toughest in New England) with a winning record. I'm a believer in Brockton this year, and they'll knock off at least one Catholic Conference opponent, as well as take care of business with Reading and Fitchburg. My guess is the Boxers end up 3-2 in this stretch (including a loss to BC High week one, which they'll avenge in the Super Bowl in December).


Hall: On a state-wide level, Everett’s trip to Leominster is certainly garnering the most interest, and deservedly so. The atmosphere there is going to be electric, with projections of anywhere up to 7-8,000 for expected attendance at Doyle Field. But, at the risk of being the wet blanket here, find me a pundit that doesn’t expect Everett to win.

Putnam-Central will be an intriguing battle out west, but I’m going with an underrated Saturday afternoon showdown in Shrewsbury, where St. John’s will host Holy Name in their customary season-opener. For all of Holy Name’s success under Mike Pucko, the Naps have never beaten St. John’s under John Andreoli. Last year’s contest, a 22-21 St. John’s thriller, was just epic on all fronts. And if there’s any year for Holy Name to get that elusive win over the Pioneers, it’s this one.

Barboza: This might not be the most high profile game on the docket, but I’m looking at the good ole fashioned brawl in the backyard between Dighton-Rehoboth and Somerset. The Falcons, coached by Somerset alum Dave Driscoll, are looking to rebound a bit in the South Coast Conference this season behind physical tackle Chuddy Nwachukwu and the Raiders could bounce back from a rebuilding year last year to finish atop the Eastern Athletic Conference this year. This has always been an underrated rivalry game in Southeastern Mass. and it's a great way to kick off the season for both squads.

Kurkjian: When in doubt, go with the No. 1 team opening up on the road against a program and community brimming with optimism over a Super Bowl win. No matter what happens, the atmosphere for Friday night's Everett at Leominster game will be electric.

Lerch: With apologies to several other high profile (BC High/Brockton) and not-so-high-profile (East Boston/Blue Hills will be a barnburner) matchups certainly deserving attention, the game at the top of my marquee is Duxbury at Bridgewater-Raynham (Saturday, 4 p.m.). Two programs very similar in the foundations programmed by a pair of tremendous head coaches, and both with an eye on getting a jump start on the "reload" process should be ready to go toe-to-toe for 44 minutes (or more).

Botelho: My favorite week one match-up is always Bridgewater-Raynham and Duxbury (especially this year, where these two teams grabbed the top two spots in our pre-season poll over at Both perennial Super Bowl contenders, if either team doesn't bring their 'A' game from the get-go, they start the season with a loss. Dave Maimaron and Dan Buron always have their kids supremely prepared, so this one has a playoff atmosphere in September.

No. 1 Everett's magnum opus?

September, 4, 2012
Football in Everett is the constant pursuit of perfection. While Super Bowl seasons are celebrated, they’re also stacked up against each other. Each in the line of champions who roll through the Crimson Tide’s ranks are exalted. But they’re also put to the test of time, with one group’s achievement forever debated against the greats.

With that said, Everett is coming a season for the ages. While running to a perfect record and a Division 1A Super Bowl, the Crimson Tide put forward one of the most dominating performances the city has ever witnessed. Everett’s margin of victory averaged nearly 30 points per game last season, while quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso broke the state single-season touchdown pass record with 44.

Everett loses a few key components from the 2011 squad, including their signal-caller as well as the tough-running Vondell Langston, but its core remains largely intact.

As the Crimson Tide break camp in 2012, questions swirl around the intrigue of who will take over the quarterback duties with a hotly contested battle between Pat Long and Lukas Denis running through the preseason. There was also the speculation Everett might go back its old ways, John DiBiaso's earlier edition, more 10 yards and a cloud of dust – an intriguing option with the Crimson Tide returning a line that averages more than 300 pounds across.

Yet, for all the questions, the Crimson Tide is the runaway favorite to repeat as Div. 1A Super Bowl champions.

And while Everett may have some things to sort out in the early season, John DiBiaso is banking on one of the Crimson Tide’s key returnees to shoulder a load.

The similarities between the aforementioned Langston and senior Kenny Calaj are many, from stature to their styles of play. Langston, now at UMass, was in his Everett career a kind of Kevin Faulk, the player on a successful team who does a lot of little things very well that often goes unnoticed. Whether it was in blitz pick-up, providing DiBiaso time to throw, or his responsibilities at linebacker, Langston was a dependable, heady player.

Of course, Langston and Calaj worked in tandem during the last couple of seasons at Everett.

Calaj has lined up all over the field on offense – from the backfield to the slot – and held down the weak side linebacker role on defense.

But now DiBiaso is counting on the 5-10, 195-pounder to take on a feature role.

“We’re counting on him to replace Vondell [Langston],” DiBiaso said. “We want him to be able to replace the carries Vondell had and with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, we’re able to do some different things.”

Calaj is the only member of Everett’s class of 2013 to have started since freshman year (although jack-of-all-trades Gilly De Souza also place kicked in 2009). His blend of speed, power and good hands make Calaj a tough matchup. When spread out wide, he has the ability to bowl over defensive backs. While running out of the backfield, he’s tough enough to run in between the tackles.

Defenses also have to keep honest with Everett’s talented pass-catchers Jalen Felix and Jakarrie Washington working on the perimeter.

“Sometime [defenses] will overload one side and try to guess our plays,” Calaj said. “But it’s hard to guess who’s going to get the ball with us because we have so many weapons.”

And, of course, there’s the offensive line, led by Notre Dame commit John Montelus.

“They’re the hardest workers,” Calaj said of the line. “They’re big, but they work hard, too. They’re the ones who sweat the most in practice, they’re tough.”

On defense, Calaj comprises a veteran linebacker core alongside returning starters Jeff Soulouque and Omar Graciano and rising junior Angel Duarte.

Calaj has heard from a smattering of both FBC and FCS schools. Boston College has inquired about his defensive talents while Bryant has told Calaj they’d integrate him into the offense.

But that’s all out of sight and out of mind for now. In a place like Everett, all that matters is here and now and the opportunity to claim a third straight Super Bowl title.

“I want to win another championship, that’s it,” Calaj said. “Then I’d have three rings.”

Coach: John DiBiaso (21st season at Everett, 252-63-1 overall)
Last Year: 13-0, won Division 1A Super Bowl
Key Returnees: Kenny Calaj, Sr. WR/S, 5-10, 195 lbs; Jakarrie Washington, Sr. WR/DB, 5-10, 175 lbs; John Montelus, Sr. OT, 6-5, 315 lbs; Mark Fils-Aime, Sr. OG, 6-1, 280 lbs; Mike Ottersburg, Sr. OG, 6-1, 310 lbs; Pat Sullivan, Sr. OT, 6-1, 270 lbs; Gilly De Souza, Jr. WR/DB/K, 5-11, 165 lbs; Jeff Soulouque, Sr. OLB/TE, 6-2, 225 lbs; Omar Graciano, Sr. DE, 6-4, 215 lbs.
Strengths: Offensive line, wide receivers, secondary, kicking game.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at quarterback.

Outlook: The $25,000 question with the Crimson Tide is whether they’ll be more run- or pass-oriented this season. When confronted with the question, John DiBiaso said it comes down a matter of numbers. “I think it will be dependent on the game and depend on how many guys they bring into the box. We’ll adapt with whatever they bring to us.” While Everett might not be able to post a 500-point season as it did last year, they’ll be equally adept playing at a hurry-up tempo as they will be able to play ball control. Perhaps the hidden strength of this squad lies in the secondary with De Souza, Felix and Washington. DiBiaso had high praise for De Souza, who contributes in all three phases of the game, likening his football I.Q. to that of former ESPN Boston Mr. Football award winner Matt Costello (Princeton). Once again, the Crimson Tide will play perhaps the state’s toughest schedule; each of Everett’s first six games are against Top 10-ranked opponents. The slate opens with a vengeance in a matchup of defending Super Bowl champions against Leominster on Friday at Doyle. “That’s a big game for us, it’s a big game for them,” DiBiaso said. “You can bet all of Central Mass. will probably be there. We’ll be ready though. It’s going to be exciting.”

ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List: Week 1

September, 4, 2012
This morning, we unveil our initial "Watch List" for our third annual ESPN Boston Mr. Football Award, presented annually to the state's top overall player.

Last year, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso took the award unanimously, beating out Catholic Memorial's Armani Reeves, Duxbury's Matt O'Keefe, Chelmsford's Tim Joy and Springfield Putnam's Melquawn Pinkney. In 2010, Everett wideout Matt Costello won the inaugural award after catching for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns.

Check back with us each Monday during the season, as we put out our weekly "Mr. Football Watch" tracking the contenders and highlight others potentiall on the rise.

The five finalists for the Mr. Football Award will be announced after Week 10 of the high school season. The winner will be announced on the Monday following the MIAA Super Bowls, and will be honored at Gillette Stadium before the Patriots' December 10 home game.

Here is the first ESPN Boston Mr. Football Watch List of the 2012 season:

Jon Baker, Jr. OL/DL, Millis/Hopedale
Dominant two-way lineman already claims offers from UMass, Boston College and UConn, and has interest from Michigan and Virginia.

Drew Belcher, Jr. QB, Reading
6-foot-4, 200-pounder one of the state's most punishing dual-threat signal-callers.

Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Randolph native has 54 rushing touchdowns since the start of 2010, more than any other active player in the state over that time.

Kenny Calaj, Sr. RB/LB, Everett
Transitioning to the Crimson Tide's feature back role, he's got plenty of sizzle, and will have the benefit of a hefty line.

Ozzy Colarusso, Sr. ATH, Weymouth
Versatile scatback plays every skill position for the Wildcats, and accumulated 17 touchdowns last season.

Sha'ki Holines, Sr. LB, Springfield Commerce
UConn-bound linebacker registered 132 tackles and six sacks last season.

Zach Hume, Sr. LB, Nashoba
Registered 122 tackles last season for the 13-0 Division 2 Super Bowl champs, and has varied Division 1 interest.

Maurice Hurst, Sr. DT, Xaverian
290-pound, Michigan-bound Canton resident is widely considered the state's best three-technique. He'll even carry the ball more, after last year's experiment with St. John's (Shrewsbury) led to 220 yards rushing.

John Montelus, Sr. OT, Everett
Notre Dame-bound road grader is considered one of the best left tackles in the Northeast, and will lead a line that among the nation's heaviest at nearly 318 pounds across.

Peter Ngobidi, Sr. DL/LB, Catholic Memorial
One of the better edge-setters around, UMass-bound defensive athlete is at least one ESPN Boston correspondent's pick as the state's best defensive lineman.

Marcus Odiah, Sr. RB, Burlington
His combination of speed and acceleration is matched by few backs in Eastern Mass.

Nick Peabody, Sr. QB, Barnstable
Led the Red Raiders to their first playoff appearance in a decade last season, in part-time duty.

Jared Taylor, Sr. RB/NG, Mashpee
Shot to the top of everyone's list after gassing Cardinal Spellman for a Gillette Stadium record 308 yards in the Division 4 Super Bowl.

Hunter Taute, Sr. RB/LB, Xaverian
Intimidating leader of the Hawks' defense, and will be a force at running back at 240 pounds.

Jonathan Thomas, Jr. RB, St. John's Prep
Already picking up Division 1 interest, poised for a breakout season in Jim O'Leary's rushing attack.

Quron Wright, Sr. RB, Holy Name
Lilliputian scatback needs 1,300 yards to surpass Emil Igwenagu's all-time rushing yards mark at the school.

Scrimmage Slants: Everett vs. Lynn English

August, 26, 2012
EVERETT, Mass. -- It’s a true sign that it’s almost football season when teams get out of the monotony of double-session practices and start getting to hit players from other teams.

Such was the case Saturday night at Everett Memorial Stadium, where the Crimson Tide started its quest towards another Super Bowl against Lynn English.

Were there ups and downs for both teams? Sure. However, Everett showed why it is ranked No. 1 in the preseason Top 25 poll, behind dominant line play on both sides of the ball and disruptive linebacker pressure that made it difficult for the Lynn English offense to get in a groove.

When the offensive line, anchored by Notre Dame commit John Montelus, wasn’t creating holes for Joey White and Lukas Denis, it was buying time for junior quarterback Pat Long to hit Jakarrie Washington on long passes, which he did three times in the scrimmage.

“I thought we did well,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso. “We didn’t have Kenny (Calaj) because we were resting him. For the first scrimmage, I thought both our quarterbacks (Denis and Long) did pretty good. We know the offensive line is going to be good, and we need to tighten up our defense, but overall I was happy.”

English coach Peter Holey echoed Dibiaso’s sentiments, knowing his team will see Everett again when they scrimmage on Tuesday.

“We’re going to take a look at the film,” he said. “But I was happy with our athleticism. Obviously they are an outstanding team, that’s why we love scrimmaging them: it only makes us better. My overall impression is that we’re going to be pretty good, but we do have some work to do, and I expect to be a better team on Tuesday night.”

Other observations from the scrimmage:

QB Battle, Pt. 1: Everett is still looking for a quarterback to replace the record-setting Jonathan Dibiaso. Both Pat Long and Lukas Denis got equal reps at the position Saturday. It was hard to tell if one of them separated himself from the other because Denis was as effective on the ground as Long was through the air.

Long threw two long touchdown passes to Washington down the left sideline, one from 35 yards out. Washington got his defender to bite on a double move, allowing him to get ahead a few strides to make the catch on the run.

Later, Long hit Washington on a corner route in the end zone after he was left uncovered.

The elder DiBiaso is in no rush to make a decision on who will start.

“I’d like to see them all,” he said. “We have three scrimmages, and we’re going to give them both opportunities in the three scrimmages. Every day in practice, I evaluate them. I’m not averse to using them both over the course of the game either, if they’re both doing well. I thought both of them played well tonight, but both of them also made some mistakes. But they didn’t protect the ball, and they didn’t turn it over, so that’s important.”

QB Battle, Pt. 2: English has a quarterback competition of its own, trying to find a replacement for Jermaine Kelly, who last year helped the team make the state playoffs, where it was ousted by Everett.

Throughout the scrimmage Saturday, Holey was giving three players equal opportunity to show themselves and make themselves the frontrunner for the job.

D.J. Mullen, a transfer from Augustine High School in Florida, made a few nice throws that would be tough for any quarterback to make. During his team’s third possession of the night, he took the shotgun snap and was under heavy pressure from the Everett rush. He ran left towards the sideline, and when all his momentum was taking him away from the play, floated a pass to a receiver in bounds for a big gain.

Two plays later, he stayed in the pocket long enough to see a receiver streaking down the left sideline, and hit him in stride.

This series caused Holey to leave Mullen in longer to see what he could do, but after the game, he was not ready to commit to any one player.

“We have three quarterbacks that we believe can start for us,” he said. “All three have been told that they’ll be given an equal opportunity to start. I feel comfortable with all three, but we’ll go with one quarterback. What separates them, to me, is the ability to run the ball. That is a critical part of our offense. I feel all three players can start for us, which is a good problem to have. We’ll settle on one quarterback by the time we scrimmage St. John’s Prep on Friday.”

Hogs live up to hype: Everett’s line play came as advertised. The offensive line, arguably one of the biggest in the state, handled the English defense most of the night. The tackles’ strength and agility made it difficult for the defensive line to get around and for it to collapse the pocket.

“They played great,” said DiBiaso. “If they play like that all year, we’re going to get a lot of yards.”

On the other side of the ball, Everett seemed to be getting pressure whenever it decided to bring an extra rusher off the edge. The English offensive line could block the four lineman, but it was that extra body that went unaccounted for that made life difficult for the quarterbacks.

“They played hard, but we were missing Kenny, who is probably our best linebacker,” DiBiaso said. “We really didn’t play Jalen Felix and Jakarrie (Washington) on defense. We wanted to see other kids. Hopefully we can get our full defense ready for Leominster.”

Growing pains: English had trouble defending Everett’s screen passes and swing passes to the running backs in the flat. Often, the defensive backs and linebackers would follow receivers up the field, allowing the backs to get out in the open field for big gains. That is one problem Holey believes can be corrected before the real games start in early September.

“I expect that to be better,” he said. “We pattern read, and obviously there were mistakes. The kids weren’t reading their patterns correctly, and the corner wasn’t dropping off and covering the flat, and that’s something that we’ll see on film over the next couple of days. I was very disappointed.”

ESPN Boston MIAA football All-State team

December, 6, 2011
QB – Jonathan DiBiaso, Sr., Everett
Statistically the state’s best all-time quarterback, the ESPN Boston Mr. Football recipient finishes his storied career in Everett as the state’s all-time leader in touchdown passes (103) and passing yards (7,052). This season he broke his own state single-season record for TD passes (44), and threw for over 2,800 yards. In the last two seasons alone, both perfect Super Bowl-winning campaigns, he threw for 87 touchdown passes to better the previous state all-time mark of 85. DiBiaso is undecided on college plans.

QB – Matt O’Keefe, Sr., Duxbury
In his first season as the full-time starter under center, the Johns Hopkins lacrosse commit was a finalist for ESPN Boston’s Mr. Football award. The 6-foot-3, 185-pounder totaled nearly 3,000 yards from scrimmage, throwing for 2,321 yards, rushing for another 670, and totaling 39 scores. O’Keefe, a defender for the defending Division 1 state champion Dragons, is currently ranked as the No. 32 overall lacrosse player in the Class of 2012 by ESPNU.

QB – Matt Montalto, Sr., Dennis-Yarmouth
The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder led the Dolphins to their best season in school history, finishing a perfect 13-0 campaign by winning the Division 2A Super Bowl title – their first championship of any kind in the Super Bowl era. For the season he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,065 yards and 25 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He also carried 134 times for 1,219 yards and 16 more scores. Montalto is fielding various college interest, including, New Hampshire, Albany, Colgate, Brown, Sacred Heart and Bentley.

QB – Michael Walsh, Sr., Swampscott
The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder was a force on both sides of the ball for the 9-2 Big Blue, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes for 2,129 yards and 25 touchdowns to go along with 930 rushing yards and 13 more scores. Defensively, he totaled 47 tackles from the free safety position, forcing three fumbles and making two interceptions. Walsh will continue his career next fall at Brown as a safety.

RB – Melquawn Pinkney, Sr., Springfield Putnam
The 5-foot-9, 170-pound Mr. Football finalist ended his career with the Beavers in record-breaking fashion. With 341 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 48-6 win over Commerce for the Division 2 Super Bowl title, Pinkney broek Cedric Washington’s 15-year-old state all-time record for single-season yardage (2,889), and set the new state single-season mark for rushing touchdowns (43). Earlier in the season, Pinkney set a Western Mass single-game record with 421 rushing yards in a win over Agawam. For the season, he averaged 8.4 yards a carry. Pinkney is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Sacoy Malone, Sr., Springfield Central
Both Malone and his cross-town foil Pinkney eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark on the season, as the Eagles returned to the Western Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl for the second straight year. On the season, Malone had 257 carries for 2,001 yards and 22 touchdowns; since the start of the 2010 season, he’s accumulated over 3,200 yards and 35 touchdowns. The 5-foot-8, 175-pound Malone is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 FCS schools.

RB – George Craan, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
Craan, the reigning Dual County League MVP, was the catalyst for the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl-winning season. He followed up a 1,900-yard junior season with just as explosive numbers in 2011, carrying 220 times for 1,761 yards and 24 touchdowns, as the Patriots went 13-0. The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Craan is currently undecided on college plans.

RB – Charles Ruffin, Sr., King Philip
The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder is the second Warrior in four seasons to capture Hockomock League Offensive Player of the Year honors. On the season he amassed over 1,300 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and led the Warriors to their first postseason berth of the Super Bowl era. Ruffin, who also stars in lacrosse and track and field, is currently fielding interest from several Division 1 schools.

TE – Mark Riley, Sr., Needham
One of several All-Staters previously known most for their lacrosse exploits, the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder was a force to be reckoned with for the 9-4 Rockets. Utilized as both a receiver and tight end, Riley caught 72 balls for 1,266 yards and a school record 15 touchdowns. He is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest in lacrosse.

TE – Jameson McShea, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Temple commit didn’t put up eye-opening numbers in the passing game, but his support in the running game was without peer as he helped paved the way for both Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe. As a defensive end, he recorded 68 tackles (12 for loss) and was named the Catholic Conference’s Lineman of the Year.

WR – Khary Bailey-Smith, Sr., Weymouth
One of the state’s best deep-ball threats, the 6-foot-3, 185-pounder tallied 936 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns for the 9-2 Wildcats this fall. Since the start of his junior season, Bailey-Smith has caught over 2,000 yards and 27 touchdowns. He is also a state champion in track and field, having cleared 6-foot-10 in the high jump. Bailey-Smith is fielding interest from Division 1 schools.

WR – Gordon McLeod, Sr., BC High
One of the most versatile threats on the Eagles’ Division 1 Super Bowl champion squad, McLeod was one of the leading receivers in Eastern Mass., with 755 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns as they captured their second title in four seasons.

WR – Don Webber, Sr., Duxbury
Considered one of the state’s best route-runners, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder was the 13-0 Dragons’ most dangerous weapon in space. Webber led the team with 52 receptions for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns, as the Dragons won a second consecutive Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium and extended the state’s longest winning streak to 26 games. Webber is leaning towards the Ivy League for college plans.

WR – Malcolm Brown, Sr., Pope John XXIII
Statistically, the 6-foot-1 Brown graduates from the Everett campus as one of the state’s most decorated receivers of all-time. This fall he caught 71 passes to set school records of 1,306 yards and 20 touchdowns, both tops in the state. He also racked up 918 return yards and three touchdowns, ran for 328 yards, and threw for another 267. Defensively, he recorded 65 tackles (10 for loss) and three interceptions, including a pick-six. For his career, he has 192 receptions for 3,447 yards and 44 touchdowns, and 56 total scores. Brown currently has interest from schools in the Northeast-10 and MEAC conferences.

OL – Andrew VanderWilden, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
At 6-foot and 245 pounds, VanderWilden was arguably one of the most efficient pound-for-pound centers in the state. He led a Patriots rushing attack that racked up 53 touchdowns and nearly 3,000 yards the ground, part of one of the state’s highest scoring averages (35.4). VanderWilden, a two-time Dual County League Lineman of the Year, will continue his career at Brown next fall.

OL – Keith Sullivan, Sr., Oliver Ames
The 6-foot-9, 300-pounder was arguably the most crucial two-way player for the Tigers’ historic run, winning their first Hockomock title since 1964 and qualifying for their first championship game of the Super Bowl era. Sullivan is currently undecided on college plans, but fielding Division 1 interest.

OL – John Montelus, Jr., Everett
DiBiaso’s blind side is quickly rising as one of New England’s top Class of 2013 prospects. The last two seasons the 6-foot-4, 290-pounder has allowed DiBiaso to throw 87 touchdown passes and keep his jersey clean. Montelus received four offers before his 16th birthday this fall, and counts UConn, Syracuse, NC State, Virginia and Boston College.

OL – Gordon Acha, Sr., Duxbury
Acha, the Dragons’ left tackle, was named ESPN Boston’s inaugural Lineman of the Year this week after helping pave the way to a second straight 13-0 season. The Dragons averaged 302 yards of offense and had 36 touchdown passes. The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Acha is currently fielding interest from Division 1 schools, including Boston College and Maryland.

OL – Rob Kosharek, Jr., Duxbury
Together with Acha, the 6-foot-6, 250-pound Kosharek created one of the state’s best tandems on the left side of the 13-0 Dragons’ line. Behind Kosharek at left guard, the Dragons won their second straight Division 2 Super Bowl title and rang their winning streak up to a state-best 26 games.

ATH – Geeavontie Griffith, Sr., Boston Cathedral
The 12-1 Panthers experienced one of the state’s most dramatic turnarounds under first-year head coach Duane Sigsbury, and leading the charges was Griffith. The 5-foot-7, 175-pound Randolph native carried 152 times for 2,244 yards and 29 touchdowns, as the Panthers advanced to the Division 4A Super Bowl. He is currently undecided on college plans.

ATH – Armani Reeves, Sr., Catholic Memorial
Don’t let the Mr. Football finalist’s limited touches fool you. Reeves, a Penn State commit and the state’s No. 1 overall prospect, was electric practically every time he touched the ball. He ran for 1,001 yards on just 46 touches, caught another 205, and returned a punt for a touchdown to total 15 scores for the 7-2 Knights. That averages out to almost a touchdown every three touches.

K – Jules Murphy, Sr., Xaverian
Murphy has been known to regularly hit from 40 yards and further, and while he didn’t have many opportunities this season, he was a near-perfect 27-of-28 on extra points. Murphy is undecided on college plans.

DL – Ralph Jonathas, Sr., Everett

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder was a mainstay of the Crimson Tide's back-to-back Super Bowl championship teams and a defense that allowed just over 12 points per game this season. Jonathas has received interest from multiple Division 1 programs, but is undecided on college plans.

DL – Brendan Battles, Sr., Nauset
At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, the UConn commit was one of the most feared defensive presences in the state. But the bruising lineman also did double time, serving as the play-caller in Nauset's single wing offense, paving the way as the lead blocker out of the backfield. Battles also won the Division 1 and All-State wrestling crowns in the 215-pound divsion, advancing to the New England finals.

DL – Maurice Hurst Jr., Jr., Xaverian
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound defensive tackle was a physical presence in the middle of the Hawks defense. Hurst finished the season with 61 tackles, including 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks. Hurst also showed off his athleticism in one of the more improbable performances of the season, rushing for over 200 yards in the Hawks' win over St. John's of Shrewsbury, including an awe-inspiring 75-yard touchdown run.

DL – Henry Bumpus, Sr., Concord-Carlisle
The 6-foot-6, 218-pound defensive end was one of the more imposing physical presences in the state, as well as an important part of C-C's rushing attack at tight end. The senior captain helped to guide the Patriots to a Division 3 Super Bowl championship. A feared rusher off the edge, Bumpus finished with 9.5 sacks and 66 tackles. He also nabbed four interceptions on the season. Bumpus will attend Brown University next year.

LB – Tim Joy, Sr., Chelmsford
The Boston College-bound 'backer was the heart and soul of the Lions defense, leading the team with 155 tackles, including eight for a loss and three sacks. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder also had an interception in addition to three passes defensed. Joy was also a steady contributor to Chelmsford's offense, as a punishing lead blocker at full back in front of running back Eddie Sheridan.

LB – Luke Catarius, Jr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder lead the Eagles in tackles, despite playing 10 regular season games with 129 tackles, including 24 tackles for loss. Catarius was also a mainstay of BC High's offense, providing lead blocks at fullback in front of Preston Cooper and Deontae Ramey-Doe for the Division 1 Super Bowl champions.

LB – Vondell Langston, Sr., Everett
The Crimson Tide senior captain was an integral part of Everett's offensive and defensive units in each of their back-to-back Super Bowl championship seasons. As a linebacker, Langston was tough against the ran and a threat to drop back in coverage, coming away with three interceptions on the season. Langston tallied 15 touchdowns on the season at running back. He is undecided on his college choice.

LB – Cam Williams, Sr., Catholic Memorial
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound linebacker was named one of 50 national finalists for the high school Butkus Award, honoring the nation's top linebacker. The Penn State commit totaled 119 tackles (81 solo), including 18 tackles for loss. Wiliams was also effective in pass defense with an interception and seven passes defensed.

LB – Nick Schlatz, Sr., Bridgewater-Raynham
The Trojans' senior captain was part of a dynamic 1-2 punch at running back along with Brandon Morin, totaling nine touchdowns. Schlatz was the fulcrum of Bridgewater-Raynham's defense, which allowed just under 14 points per game this season.

LB – Dan Flink, Sr., Auburn
Flink was the heart of the Rockets' defense, which surrendered just over 10 points per game this season. He totaled 141 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss, along with seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and eight sacks. Flink played running back with the same mentality he brought to his play at linebacker with 1,393 yards and 27 touchdowns in his senior season. The three-year starter was part of four Super Bowl championship teams at Auburn and is looking to study at Mass Maritime Academy next year.

DB – James Burke, Sr., Duxbury
The senior captain was a stalwart in the Dragons' defense in their back-to-back Super Bowl titles. The 6-foot, 165-pounder formed a vicious safety duo along with Reilly Naton and led the secondary with 76 total tackles (50 solo) and had three interceptions with nine passes defensed. Also a standout on Duxbury's state-title winning lacrosse team, Burke has signed a letter of intent to play lacrosse at Penn State.

DB – Quinton Perkins, Sr., Fitchburg
The 6-foot, 170-pound wideout and safety was one of the most dynamic talents in the state, nevermind Central Mass. Perkins, who holds offers from UConn and UMass-Amherst, tallied 35 tackles and two interceptions on defense. He racked up 20 total touchdowns with 10 rushing, nine passing and a kickoff return. Perkins also racked up over 1,300 all-purpose offensive yards. He also racked up 200 all-purpose offensive yards and three touchdowns in the Red Raiders' playoff loss to Leominster.

DB – Casey DeAndrade, Sr., East Bridgewater
The University of New Hampshire commit was one of the most electrifying offensive talents in the state this year, but also played lock-down corner for the Vikings. DeAndrade tallied one interception in his senior season to push his career total to 11, a testament to opponents' weariness in throwing in his direction. The multi-talented athlete tallied 22 touchdowns with nearly 1,400 all-purpose offensive yards.

DB – Obi Melifonwu, Sr., Grafton
The UConn commit was a big-play threat on both sides of the football for Grafton, leading the Indians with three interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 195-pounder also ran for nearly 1,400 yards in a shortened season along with 17 touchdowns.

RET – Chucky Ortiz, Sr. Woburn
Ortiz was a jack of all trades while taking MVP honors of the Middlesex League Large division. In racking up 24 touchdowns, Ortiz tallied two pick-sixes, and a pair punt returns and kick returns for scores. Ortiz had six interceptions on defense while finishing a shade under 1,200 rushing yards. He also handled place kicking duties for the Tanners, connecting on 15 PATs and one field goal.

Best of the Rest
A.J. Baker, Sr. WR, Swampscott
Dan Barone, Sr. QB, Holliston
Vincent Burton, Sr. RB, Blue Hills
Kenny Calaj, Jr. WR, Everett
Andrew Coke, Sr. RB, Andover
Preston Cooper, Sr. RB, BC High
A.J. Doyle, Sr. QB, Catholic Memorial
Brian Dunlap, Fr. WR, Natick
Aaron Dyke, Jr. OL, Auburn
Andrew Ellis, Jr. LB, Barnstable
Joe Epps, Sr. RB, Bourne
Theo France, Sr. RB, Barnstable
Brett Harrington, Sr. DL, Chelmsford
Jack Harris, Sr. TE, Lincoln-Sudbury
Greg Heineman, Sr. QB, Minnechaug
Damion Johnson, Sr. WR, Dennis-Yarmouth
Jordan Keli'inui, Sr. RB, Mashpee
Thomas Kleyn, Sr. LB, Concord-Carlisle
Zack Hume, Jr. LB, Nashoba
Nick LaSpada, Sr. QB, Billerica
Cam McLevedge, Sr. QB, Weymouth
Reilly Naton, Sr. S, Duxbury
T.J. Norris, Sr. RB, Longmeadow
Mike Prendeville, Sr. OG, BC High
Will Quigley, Sr. RB, Marblehead
Deontae Ramey-Doe, Sr. RB, BC High
Max Randall, Sr. LB, Duxbury
Zack Schafer, Sr. LB, Mansfield
Eddie Sheridan, Sr. RB, Chelmsford
Jarod Taylor, Jr. RB, Mashpee
Shawn Whouley, Sr. WR, Weymouth

Recap: Everett 36, Lincoln-Sudbury 13

December, 4, 2011

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Early in the fourth quarter, Everett's Jakarrie Washington took a sweep right down the sidelines and made a hesitation move that caused a Lincoln-Sudbury defender to fall, despite being between Washington and the end zone. The momentum that the Warriors had gained with their only offensive touchdown of the game less than two minutes earlier had been quickly put to rest, as the No. 1 Tide won easily, 36-13.

[+] EnlargeJakarrie Washington
Jon Mahoney for Jakarrie Washington's 63-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter sealed a second straight Super Bowl title for Everett.
“On third down, we knew they were going to drop,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso. “They were really dropping off on us, so when Jakarrie took that jet sweep I saw he got the corner. Once he got the corner, I knew he at least had the first down. When I saw his shoulders squared and he was going upfield I said he’s got a shot to go all the way and he did.”

That score made the game 27-13, and the extra point rush by Joey White made the score 29-13. On the ensuing Lincoln-Sudbury drive, junior Angel Duarte and senior Vondell Langston sacked quarterback Matt Cahill on first down and after two complete passes punted the ball away.

Despite a block in the back penalty on the return that negated the run back but also took away punitive yards, the Crimson Tide walked straight down the field, led off by Kenny Calaj with a 37-yard run. By the time Vondell Langston broke the plane with 3:30 left, it became nearly impossible for Lincoln-Sudbury to come back now down 36-13, but Washington’s interception one minute later put the final touch on the game for the Crimson Tide.

“We’ve been practicing for them all week,” said Washington of Everett’s defensive training. “Going through the plays, learning play recognition, so we adapted to what they were doing and we did what we had to do.”

Heat of the Battle: DiBiaso and the Crimson Tide are used to winning games by large margins, and even though tonight the 23-point victory is sizeable, that was not solidified until late in the fourth quarter. The victory, although not at Gillette, felt good to coach DiBiaso because of the effort needed for his players to pull of the win.

“To win a tough game is always more gratifying than to win a blow out,” said DiBiaso. “So if this game were say 42-0, we wouldn’t appreciate it as much as we appreciate it now. This was a battle, we had to battle for it, we had to fight for it, we had to claw, scratch, bite for it, and when we get it, it means that much more. That’s why I’m very emotional and I feel so good. It was a war out there tonight and our kids responded like champions."

[+] EnlargeJonathan DiBaiso
Jon Mahoney for ESPNBoston.comEverett's Jonathan DiBiaso was emotional in reflecting on what has been statistically the best career by a Massachusetts quarterback.
Run Game: Before the game, Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso was not feeling well and went to the bathroom to throw up before the game. Although he started the match, he was sliding early on during his runs, avoiding serious contact with the L-S defenders. As the game progressed, he began to take on hits and get the extra yardage that he usually does. Between not feeling 100% and the deep coverage that Lincoln-Sudbury was playing, the Crimson Tide scored all of their touchdowns on the ground today, something unusal for the high-powered offense.

First Quarter
E – Jonathan DiBiaso 1 run (Gilly DeSouza kick)

Second Quarter
E – Vondell Langston 2 run (DeSouza kick)
L – Connor Young 62 yard interception return (kick blocked)
E – Jalen Felix 1 run (DeSouza kick)

Third Quarter
L – Jack Harris 14 pass from Matt Cahill (Will Twyman kick)

Fourth Quarter
E – Jakarrie Washington 63 run (Joey White rush)
E – Jonathan DiBiaso 4 run (DeSouza kick)

Recap: Everett 46, Lynn English 0

November, 30, 2011

LYNN, Mass. -– Everett opened lit up the scoreboard early with a thunderous touchdown run by Kenny Calaj and would do so six more time en route to a 46-0 shutout over Lynn English, advancing to the Division IA Super Bowl this Saturday.

“We just neded to start off on a good note,” said Calaj. “We were trying to get to the Super Bowl, trying to get my team fired up and that’s the way to do it, [getting] the first touchdown.”

Scoring for Everett as well were Vondell Langston (2 TDs), Jonathan DiBiaso (2 TD passes), Jalen Felix (TD reception), Jakarrie Washington (TD reception), and Mike White and Lukas Denis with one rushing touchdown apiece.

Four Quarters: Late into the game, even after Everett called of their starters, Lynn English came close to scoring, but the Everett second string defense held it together to post the shut out. Kenny Calaj said after the game that the team was ready for this game defensively as well, but that their game plan was not very complicated.

“We practiced hitting all week, hitting hard for this team because the quarterback runs a lot,” said Calaj. “Hits after hit created turnovers… and we capitalized on offense.”

Luben Figaro, a sophomore defensive back, got an interception and fumble recovery, both of which yielded touchdowns for the Crimson Tide.

“This is only his second or third start so I was very happy for him,” said coach John DiBiaso.

Unexpected: Coach DiBiaso said that although the Crimson Tide plays up to a certain standard each day that shutting out a 9-2 team was not what he had anticipated before the game.

“We had three great days of practice so I though that we would play well. Kids were flying around and really worked hard," he said. "We had great intensity so I did expect to play well.”

One Team: Before the game, Everett, as well as Lynn English, decided that they would not do individual introductions, but instead be called out as a team. Coach DiBiaso noted that this was a team decision and Felix said that this week, the team practiced with that very spirit.

“Fast tempo, just being there for one another, just blocking for each other, being one the same page with each other," Felix said. "As far as quarterback [and receivers] us running our routes, building each other up on each play, not letting anyone go down even if they felt like they went down on a bad play and just moving onto the next play."

EV (12-0) - 21 - 19 - 6 - 0 --- 46
LE (10-2) - 0 - 0 - 0 - 0 --- 0

First Quarter
Kenny Calaj 12 run (Gilly DeSouza kick)
Jalen Felix 10 pass from Jonathan DiBiaso (kick blocked)
Vondell Langston 3 run (Calaj rush)

Second Quarter
Langston 26 run (DeSouza kick)
Jakarrie Washington 28 pass from DiBiaso (kick blocked)
Mike White 1 run (kick failed)

Third Quarter
Lukas Denis 22 run (rush failed)

DiBiaso: 'Definitely an emotional moment'

October, 28, 2011
J. DiBiasoJim Valente Everett quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso was presented a ceremonial game ball by school superintendent Frederick F. Foresteire commemorating breaking Massachusetts' all-time touchdown pass record (85) during Friday night's game in Everett.

EVERETT, Mass. -- In front of his family, friends, and a special group of kids holding placards in the stands to commemorate the moment, Everett High quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso did something he never dreamed of when he was a mere toddler hanging around the Crimson Tide football program.

DiBiaso entered last night’s Greater Boston League affair with Medford needing four touchdown passes to break the Massachusetts record of 85, held by former Brockton star Tommy Colombo. He collected all four in the first quarter, with the record-setting score coming on a 55-yard touchdown pass to a streaking Jaylen McRae down the right sideline.

DiBiaso completed 9-of-12 passes for 209 yards and threw six touchdown passes in all to five different receivers as top-ranked Everett (8-0) bested the Mustangs, 41-14, Friday night at Everett Stadium.

“Definitely it was an emotional moment,” DiBiaso said following the game. “Definitely playing for Everett, playing here in front of all my friends and family and the community, it was a special moment. We played well, we got the win, and its been a great night.”

Both his father and Everett head coach John DiBiaso and quarterbacks coach Joe Lento noted that they sensed some nervousness in the senior in the lead-up to the game.

The 6-1, 195 southpaw appeared to have shaken off any apprehension he was feeling when the game started, however, as he fired his first scoring strike, 36-yarder to Vondell Langston, on Everett’s first play on offense.

He added a 9-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Calaj on the Tide’s third play from scrimmage, then tied Colombo’s record with an 8-yarder to Jakarrie Washington.

On the record breaker, McRae simply flew past his man and DiBiaso lobbed a perfect pass down the right sideline and celebrated with his teammates after McRase crossed the goal line.

“That play we just try to have the inside guy run a post and Jaylen McRae ran a fade,” DiBiaso described. “They were playing man-two, two safeties over the top, and the safety went with Jalen Felix. (McRae) beat his guy, made a great catch and scored a touchdown.”

The game was halted for several minutes as Everett Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire presented DiBiaso with a gold-painted football to commemorate hi accomplishment. The two posed for pictures with members of the DiBiaso family, including his parents, John and Maureen.

When play resumed, DiBiaso hit both Calaj and Felix for 29-yrd TD passes and the Tide starters headed for the bench after building a 41-0 lead with 5:45 remaining in the first half.

“It was one of those moments where you make eye contact and a tear comes to your eye,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso when asked for his reaction to his son’s moment. “I knew before the game he was really nervous in the warmups and all day he was on edge. But then when he came down and the national anthem, I looked over at him. We both pray during the national anthem and he was really watery eyed. You could tell it was a special night.”

“It went about 55 yards in the air and hit him in stride,” the elder DiBiaso continued. “I said to him that’s a nice one we can put on video for your record breaker. Again, its a special record. The Colombos’, they are synonymous with high school football in Massachusetts, the dad and the son, and to break that is very special.”

Added Lento, “He put in all the work. Its all a credit to him. Its all a credit to him studying the game film and getting himself better every day as a football player. He deserves this. In the middle of the game its not my thing to go up and celebrate but after the game we shared a little moment where we talked about all the hard work that he’s had and about how going forward we’ve got our eyes on bigger, better things than this.”

MED (1-6) 0 0 0 14 --- 14
EVR (8-0) 27 14 0 0 --- 41

First Quarter
E - Vondell Langston 36 pass from Jonathan DiBiaso (Gilly DeSouza kick)
E - Kenny Calaj 9 pass from DiBiaso (DeSouza kick)
E - Jakarrie Washington 8 pass from DiBiaso (DeSouza kick)
E - Jaylen McRae 55 pass from DiBiaso (kick failed)

Second Quarter
E - Calaj 29 pass from DiBiaso (DeSouza kick)
E - Jalen Felix 29 pass from DiBiaso (DeSouza kick)

Fourth Quarter
M - Jeff Fargo 2 run (rush failed)
M - #40 23 run, (#36 rush)

What We Learned: Week 7

October, 25, 2011
It might be even in man power, but Everett's receivers feel they're always at an advantage.

“There’s 11 men on both sides, but they can’t cover all of us," junior wideout Jalen Felix said after the Crimson Tide's 35-21 win over BC High on Saturday.

Felix had a coming out party as a legitimate big play receiver an Everett touchdown drive in the second quarter. On that drive, Felix made an other-wordly one-handed grab laying on his back with a BC High defender in his back pocket.

Still, the Everett offense isn't a one-man show. Kenny Calaj, Jakarrie Washington and Jaylen McRae all bring different elements to the Crimson Tide passing attack. Not to mention, Vondell Langston is running out of his mind of late (two straight 100-plus yard games).

“If I make a good play, it’s because of my teammates,” Felix said. “It’s not because of me., it’s because they did their jobs that I had the opportunity to do mine and vice versa.”

Springfield's Blunt Park bustled with activity on Monday afternoon. Two junior varsity football game were ongoing, the were a soccer game being played at Springfield Central HIgh in the distance, cheerleading practice, along with that of both Central and Springfield Putnam's varsity football practice.

There you could find two of the elite rushers in Massachusetts this year, practicing within about a football field's distance from each other.

Melquawn Pinkney has garnered plenty of headlines with his multiple 300-plus yard games as a legitimate Mr. Football Award contender.

But, last weekend, it was Central's Sacoy Malone who stole the show in another record-setting performance.

Malone fell one touchdown shy of a Western Mass. record with a school-record seven-touchdown performance against Northampton to go along with 301 yards on the ground.

It's just another in the long line of weighty accomplishments compiled by the best the Springfield area has to offer.

"I think the me, Melquawn [Pinkney] and T.J. [Norris of Longmeadow] and what we've done this year, we're out to show that there is talent actually out here," Malone said during an interview for ESPN Boston's Player of the Week segment.

"Hopefully, we show that there's a possibility that you can make it to play in college coming from here."

So far, Malone has college offers from Fordham along with Central Connecticut State. Something tells us there might be more to come.


With star quarterback Drew Burnett (broken ankle) done for the year, Needham head coach David Duffy told the media early last week that he would likely use a rotation of three kids under center to fill the role in last Friday’s pivotal matchup with Walpole.

Few could have expected a sophomore by the name of Ryan Charter to make such an impact on such a crucial Bay State Conference tilt, albeit on less than a half-hour’s notice.

“Honestly, I found out (that I would start about) 20 minutes before the game,” Charter told ESPNBoston correspondent following the Rockets’ 31-22 win. “A couple kids were telling me, ‘You’re going to get in the game.’ I was, like, ‘Alright, that’s all I need.’ But I didn’t know until today.”

The numbers Charter put up in his debut (5 of 10 passing, 222 yards, 2 TD) suggests that the X-factor with this Rockets squad falls upon two Rileys.

Mark Riley had touchdown catches of 67 and 74 yards to pace the Rockets early, and showed once again why he is one of the state’s premier pass-catching tight ends. Armed with a lacrosse skill set and an athletic frame, the senior takes on an Aaron Hernandez-like role with the team – that is, a tight end by nature, but one that lines up all over the field to create mismatches. Ian Riley, meanwhile, went over the century mark again as the team’s primary weapon out of the backfield.

Coupled with guys like Nico Panepinto, Mike Vespa and Dan Pierce, that's a vicious group to deal with.


Like probably a lot of you, we raised our eyebrows at the final of Concord-Carlisle's vicious romp of Westford two weeks ago: 61-14, and with relative ease. Tyquan Culbreath kicked things off with two long touchdowns on his first three carries, part of a combined 336-yard effort between himself, Tim Badgley and midseason All-State selection George Craan.

But as the old saying goes, you never look as good in your best win, and as bad in your worst loss (or something like that). But we couldn't help but rush to judgment this week, given the Patriots' historic win over long-time Dual County League powerhouse Acton-Boxborough. C-C knocked off A-B in convincing fashion, 35-12, for its first win over the Colonials since 1987.

Patriots head coach Mike Robichaud admits the offense has been ahead of the defense in many games this year -- and the score sheet (39.1 points per game) undoubtedly reflects that. But not to forgotten is the precision of the offensive line and the swarming style of play the defense has demonstrated.

Robichaud and his staff gush about the skills of center Andrew Vander Wilden, an ESPN Boston midseason All-State selection and a horse at 6-foot, 245 pounds. Combined with Tom Gregory, Thomas Kleyn, Trevor Castrichini, and Owen Guattaduaro, the Patriots boast an offensive line on par with some of the state's other top units like Everett, Duxbury, BC High or Auburn. Add 6-foot-6 tight end Henry Bumpus into the mix, and that's quite a chore.

“Henry Bumpus is one of the best blocking tight ends I have ever seen at the high school level,” Robichaud told correspondent Ryan Kilian following the A-B win. “He has been doing this for us for three years now. On defense teams cannot run at him at this point. He just does a great job and plays the entire game for us.”

Defensively, Bumpus makes his impact felt at the defensive end position, and has been a load to handle.

“I was really proud of our defense,” Bumpus told Kilian. “That is a very good offensive football team and we did a good job stepping up tonight. On offense we have five of six returners back on the line and we are really focused on getting back to where we were last year. We are blocking well right now and the backs are hitting the holes well so it is all coming together for us.”


That's the question on everyone's mind in the wake of a devastating season-ending ankle injury to BC High's Preston Cooper -- a Darren Sproles-like fixture for the No. 5 Eagles, the reigning Catholic Conference MVP, an ESPNBoston Mr. Football candidate, and arguably the state's top prospect at tailback.

Nobody will argue the Eagles have one of the state's most competitive schedules in arguably the state's toughest conference. There isn't a bad loss on the schedule, including the New Jersey teams, and there isn't a poor win. And personally, we feel Deontae Ramey-Doe is a more than suitable backup, should the Eagles go that route -- his upright running style, while a change of pace from the low-moving Cooper, has an air of deception to it.

But there's four teams with a shot here. Xaverian, with competitive losses to each of our Top 3 teams, has too good of a coaching staff and defensive line not to throw some haymakers in conference place. Catholic Memorial is showing signs of life, and has to be encouraged by A.J. Doyle's four touchdown passes and 200-plus yards last week.

The wild card in all of this is St. John's Prep. With a green line, quarterback change and an offense that sputtered out of the gates, many had written off the Prep as a team in rebuilding mode. But the emergence of sophomore Jonathan Thomas the last two weeks has some giving second thoughts, especially after putting up 41 points on St. John's of Shrewsbury two weeks ago.

This could be one of more exciting races for conference supremacy, and it all starts Friday when the Prep takes a visit to Catholic Memorial. Get your popcorn ready.


Write this name down: Greg Heineman.

Quietly, the Minnechaug senior is putting together one of the state's finer seasons for a signal-caller. While he didn't register a touchdown pass in last week's 21-14 win over Westfield, he finished up with 347 yards on 26 of 37 passing.

Through seven games for the 7-0 Falcons, who come in at No. 22 this week in our statewide MIAA poll, Heineman is completing nearly 62 percent of his passes for 1,742 yards and 15 touchdowns to just four interceptions (our friends at MassLive have his stats tracked here). Seven different Falcons players have caught a touchdown pass, which suggests Heineman demonstrates good reads and hits the open man.

Recap: No. 1 Everett 35, No. 3 BC High 21

October, 23, 2011

EVERETT, Mass. –- It’s always a numbers game against No. 1 Everett’s offense.

Stack the box and Jonathan DiBiaso will pick apart a secondary. Slip too many people into coverage and Vondell Langston is equally adept at gashing a defense.

Either way, there’s no simple solution and, as the Crimson Tide showed in their 35-21 win over No. 3 BC High on Saturday afternoon, maybe there’s simply too much to stop.

“We know that if they play one side, they’re bound to leave the other side open,” Crimson Tide wide receiver Jalen Felix said. “So I feel as though they can’t cover all of us.

“There’s 11 men on both sides, but they can’t cover all of us.”

Everett (7-0) played the role of aggressor from the game’s onset recovering an onside kick to start the game. Five plays later, the Crimson Tide had an instant 7-0 lead with Vondell Langston’s first of two rushing scores. Along with two rushing touchdowns by quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, Everett took a 28-14 lead to the half.

It didn’t matter much how they drew it up, the Crimson Tide kept the Eagles (4-3) guessing. Langston turned in his second straight game going over 100 yards (20 carries, 102 yards) while DiBiaso settled into a groove with the passing game (14 of 28, 252 yards, TD) and creating additional offense with his 52 rushing yards.

"If there's five guys in the box, we run,” Everett head coach John DiBiaso said. “If there's seven, we pass. The whole first half, I think there was five in the box. So that means that we've got five blockers on five defenders, so we're going to run the ball and we did. Second half, they came out with six.”

After moving the BC High defenders up into the box, that gave DiBiaso the space to continue his assault on the state’s career touchdown record. The left-handed signal-caller is now three off of Tommy Colombo’s record after a 64-yard connection with Jaylen McRae in the third quarter.

Still, the Eagles were not without their own offensive highlights. Eagles quarterback Bartley Regan also dialed up two touchdown connections of greater than 60 yards with a 72-yard hitch-and-go to Lincoln Collins and a 60-yard bomb caught in stride by Yosa Nosamiefan.

In addition, running back Preston Cooper, the reigning Catholic Conference MVP, was elusive again with 15 carries for 161 yards including a dazzling 58-yard touchdown run in the third.

However, Cooper likely played in his last high school game after suffering a dislocated ankle with less than a minute to play in the third quarter. On the drive following his touchdown run, Cooper was cut down on a tackle in between the hash marks. An audible cry for help underlined the severity of the injury.

"It's a big loss losing Preston," Eagles head coach Jon Bartlett said. "He's one of the top players in the state, if not the top running back in the state."

The talent Everett enjoyed with receiving duo of Manny Asprilla and Matt Costello last season is about as common a find as Haley’s comet, but the Crimson Tide have plenty of horses in the stable this year with juniors Kenny Calaj, Jakarrie Washington and Jalen Felix.

Felix’s play was downright electric on the second quarter drive that resulted in DiBiaso’s second rushing touchdown. The 6-foot, 180-pounder added 57 receiving yards on two of the most amazing catches you’ll ever encounter.

The highlight was Felix’s 18-yard reception to set Everett up with a first goal at the BC High 4-yard line. On the play, Felix lost his balance and was hurdling toward the turf with tight coverage provided by the Eagles’ corner. No problem. Felix simply made a one-handed grab with his back to the ground with the defender in his back pocket.

“I just slipped,” Felix said. “I was just thinking, I have to catch this ball.”

Felix acknowledged that no one player, even in the talented cache of weapons DiBiaso has at his fingertips, is greater than the sum of the whole.

“If I make a good play, it’s because of my teammates,” Felix said. “It’s not because of me., it’s because they did their jobs that I had the opportunity to do mine and vice versa.”

Even their coach was in awe.

“I think you saw some of the finest plays you’ll ever see in a high school football game today,” DiBiaso added.

The Eagles actually did a fair job of slowing down the Tide in pass coverage. Gordon McLeod came away with an interception while Nosamiefan and Deontae Ramey-Doe each had two passes defensed.

BC High also had spurts of pressure put on DiBiaso with a Jameson McShea tallying a sack and Luke Catarius single-handedly blowing up a couple of running plays in the backfield.

It just wasn’t quite enough to hold in the end.

“Our DBs played well,” Bartlett said. “We challenged them and they rose to the occasion.”

You could practically hard a pin drop when Cooper went to the turf following his grizzly injury (save for some nimrods who celebrated the injury in an utterly tasteless and classless display from the sideline). But more than Cooper’s absence, the play provided yet another negative shift of momentum for the Eagles.

“There were a few plays that we hurt ourselves,” Bartlett said. “I give a lot of credit to Everett and they’re a good team, but there were a number of times where we shot ourselves in the foot.”

There were interceptions by Felix and corner Gilly DeSouza, in addition to a fumble recovery by DeSouza. There were also a pair of roughing the kicker penalties, which extended Everett drives in the second half.

It all left the Eagles asking what if?

DiBiaso said he was sickened by the injury to Cooper and the reaction of a few in attendance. He also laid heavy praise on the wounded Eagle, comparing Cooper to some of the Crimson Tide’s best.

“We’ve had guys like Isaac Johnson and Diamond Ferri in the past, he’s right up there with those guys.

“They were just trying to let him pick his way. He’s a talented running back. If you overplay, he cuts it back. Then you think he’s going to cut back and he takes it out wide.”

BC High (4-3) 7 7 7 0 -- 21
Everett (7-0) 14 14 7 0 -- 35

1st quarter
E - Vondell Langston 12-yard run (Gilly DeSouza kick)
BC - Lincoln Collins 72-yard pass from Bartley Regan (Jackson Bockhurst kick)
E - Langston 3-yard run (DeSouza kick)

2nd quarter
E - Jonathan DiBiaso 2-yard run (DeSouza kick)
E - DiBiaso 4-yard run (Gilly DeSouza kick)
BC - Yosa Nosamiefan 60-yard pass from Regan (Bockhurst kick)

3rd quarter
BC - Preston Cooper 58-yard run (Bockhurst kick)
E - Jaylen McRae 64-yard pass from DiBiaso (Gilly DeSouza kick)

What We Learned: Week 6

October, 18, 2011
It isn't the be-all, end-all of the debate, but two Massachusetts teams came away with big victories over two out-of-state No. 1's.

No, we're not here to trumpet that Massachusetts is better than any other New England state because the top teams of New Hampshire and Rhode Island fell to Bay State foes, however, both games were telling.

The Granite State's top team, Pinkerton Academy, a juggernaut of a football team by all intents, was knocked off by a down, but feisty Brockton team. In one feel swoop, the Boxers showed that they shouldn't be written off so easily, while the Astros failed to dispatch what was considered a lesser opponent.

Similarly, the reigning No. 1 Ocean State team, La Salle Academy, took on a Top 10 Massachusetts-based opponent in Bridgewater-Raynham. The Trojans also knocked off their out-of-state guests.

Again, this isn't to take anything away from the Astros or the Rams; they're both fine football teams. However, we've heard a lot of buzz about Pinkerton in particular as being deserving of the top spot in our New England Top 10 poll.

While both the Astros and Rams have more than held their own against in-state competition, in matters of stacking up the states again each other, the Bay State takes this round.

Winning 200 games is much a credit to consistency as it is simply being good. So it came as no surprise when we heard that Dighton-Rehoboth head coach Dave Driscoll recorded his 200th career football in a rather ugly 7-0 win over South Coast Conference foe Wareham, that the Falcons' boss wasn't exactly overjoyed.

"I don't know if I can get any more white hair,"Driscoll told David Carty of The Sun Chronicle. "We're 3-0 in the league and that's what I remember."

It's a typical reaction from a coach who expects a lot out of his teams and rightfully so, as the Falcons are coming off a playoff appearance last year.

Again, the benchmark is a testament to the type of program Driscoll has built, not only in football in his 31 years, but also with D-R softball (a perennial D-1 state powerhouse). And, while Driscoll might not have been thrilled with his team's latest performance, that's something worth celebrating.

St. Bernard’s running back Cody Titus is the latest Massachusetts back to join the elusive 400-Yard Club, after rushing for a state-record 436 yards and five touchdowns on 34 carries, as the Bernardians pulled back to .500 in a 33-14 win over Littleton.

That breaks the mark of 425 set back in 2001 by Lynn English’s Brandon Guy, and also does one better of the other running back to break 400 this season; Springfield Putnam’s Melquawn Pinkney ran for a Western Mass-record 421 yards in a 66-0 rout of Agawam back in Week 3.

Unlike the sleek Pinkney, who beats you with shifty jukes and deceptive breakaway speed, Titus embraces contact, and is at his best pounding it between the hashes in spite of his skinny frame.

“Honestly, Cody loves to run, he’s a North-South guy,” said head coach Tom Bingham (who by the way, as a former lineman at UMaine, can tell you a thing or two about toughness). “Very rarely do you see him stop and move. Everything he does is going forward. For not a big back, he really…he would prefer to run between the tackles than to toss the ball outside.”

Even more staggering are his midseason totals: 180 carries, 1,465 yards, 16 rushing touchdowns. That’s an average of 8.1 yards per carry; but even moreso, the senior is on track to carry the ball well over 300 times. A few weeks ago, Titus recorded 51 carries. To compensate, they’ve relieved him of his “Rover” duties on defense, only inserting him into Prevent packages.

Worries about wear and tear? In the words of the legendary Bum Philips, “Why? He ain’t that heavy.”

“We truly went in with the game plan to spread it around a little more,” Bingham laughed of last weekend’s gameplan. “But it’s very hard not to give him the ball when you feel like he can break one at any time.”

As for the defense, Bingham continued, “His carries have made us make a decision there. You know honestly he’s the type of kid – I know you hear this sometimes – but the more he gets the ball…you look at his runs early versus later in the game, the more he gets the ball, the more he finds a groove.”

Springfield Central’s Valdamar Brower has to be on any short list for Coach of the Year.

Based largely on the near-Super Bowl champion success of last season with a young team, and the return of preseason All-State tailback Sacoy Malone, the Golden Eagles came into the preseason ranked No. 20 in our statewide MIAA poll. But they stumbled early out of the gates, dropping a 20-13 decision to Putnam and Mr. Football contender Melquawn Pinkney in Week 1, followed by a 42-13 drubbing by No. 1 Everett the next week.

Several seniors, including incumbent quarterback Tyler Dowd, had quit after the Putnam loss. This was once again a young team looking for direction. But before long, the Eagles were revved up again, capped last Saturday night with a thrilling 21-20 upset of Longmeadow, snapping the Lancers’ 52-game conference winning streak.

Leading the way was Malone, with 194 yards on the ground and two scores, and planting the winning points was sophomore quarterback Cody Williams, who struck a nine-yard touchdown pass to Richard Williams in the third quarter. For their efforts, the Eagles come in this week at No. 18, back in the poll for the first time since the preseason.

Never one to get too high on emotion, the former UMass All-Conference defensive end played it close to the chest in his post-game comments.

“There’s a lot of emotions around here,” Brower told ESPNBoston correspondent Michael Wood. “It’s very great for our school and our program to have a win against the great program Longmeadow has been building over the years. Last season was tough. So there’s a lot of emotions, but we’re very lucky and we beat a really great program tonight.”

Let’s hope these two teams meet again in the Division 1 Western Mass playoffs.

Maybe Rene Rancourt’s national anthem had something to do with it.

“Did you see me doing the double-pump with him?” Everett head coach John DiBiaso gleamed of hearing the long-time Bruins anthem singer showed up for the Crimson Tide’s homecoming game, a 42-21 decision over Xaverian.

After preening and prodding for six weeks, this is the breakout the Tide were looking for: 565 total yards of offense, including 308 from his quarterback and son Jonathan, and a career-high 203 yards from running back Vondell Langston.

Even more importantly, the Tide have found another go-to receiver to take pressure off of hard-hitting junior Kenny Calaj. Junior Jalen Felix caught 10 passes for 145 yards and a score, making defenders miss left and right with an arsenal of hip shakes and cut-backs.

Even the elder DiBiaso had to concede this was a good day.

"We had a couple of bumps in the road, but I thought we did a good job,” he said. “They're a good team. The way I said it, we were maybe two holding penalties and an interception away from scoring 60 points.

"That -- how can you complain? How can you, like, say 'Jeez, you know, we're not playing'...We're like three plays away from 60 points against a real good team. We're hitting all cylinders, getting better and better at it. The one thing we were able to do was balance out the plays now."

Linebacker Buck McCarthy is lost for the season, after having surgery last week to place three screws and a plate in his broken left fibula. And while he’s irreplaceable as the mike and the defensive captain, you have to like the way the Tide are rolling headed into Saturday’s monster matchup with BC High.

(Spoiler Alert: This may or may not be our game of the week. Tune in later in the week for a special treat)

Recap: No. 1 Everett 42, No. 5 Xaverian 21

October, 15, 2011
Everett vs. XaverianBrendan Hall for ESPNBoston.comDonning the jersey of his close friend and injured captain, Everett's Vondell Langston went off for a career-high 203 rushing yards and two scores on 15 carries.

EVERETT, Mass. -- Buck McCarthy sat on the Everett High sideline slouched in a chair, crutches laying in front of him, his left leg heavily casted, and could only gaze out at the game unfolding that he'll never be playing again.

"It's horrible," he said, his eyes glued to the game. "I worked so hard for the team, and we all worked so hard together. But hey, that's football."

But the senior captain, who both dislocated his left ankle and broke his left fibia in a win over Barnstable, was far from forgotten in the No. 1 Crimson Tide's 42-21 homecoming win over No. 5 Xaverian. Senior Vondell Langston -- his close friend, and running mate in the linebacking corps -- switched from his No. 4 jersey to McCarthy's No. 44, and left the injured linebacker's nameplate on the back of the jersey. Before kickoff, he promised McCarthy a touchdown.

So naturally, the 6-foot-1 senior went off for a career-high 203 rushing yards and scored twice -- both in the fourth quarter. His first, a 13-yard draw that he cut to the right hash marks after shaking a Hawks linebacker, gave the Tide (6-0) a 28-13 lead; after Gilly De Souza kicked the extra point, Langston ran over to McCarthy and told him, "I told you I was gonna come through for you."

"That meant a lot to me," McCarthy smiled. "We're best friends. I love that kid, man."

Langston's second score essentially put this one out of reach, putting the Tided up 35-21 on the Hawks (4-2) with seven minutes to go. Stretching to the ride side of the field, Langston strafed along the line of scrimmage before slipping inside of a vicious crackback block by wide receiver Jalen Felix (10 catches, 145 yards, TD) and plowing to paydirt.

For Langston, it's the least he could do for his good pal.

"It's unfortunate that he's not out there with me, side by side, but I definitely wanted to do something special for him," Langston said. "I put on his jersey, and told him I was going to go hard for him."

Like many of the Tide's performances this season, this one started off slow. Xaverian's D.J. Pagliuca opend up the scoring with a 22-yard reception from Austin DeCarr with 6:02 left in the first half, marking the first time the Tide had trailed since giving up a quick score early to Leominster in Week 1.

But Everett quickly fired back, and from there the momentum rolled. Kenny Calaj (133 yards offense) capped an 11-play, 83-yard drive with a 10-yard plunge to knot it at seven. Five plays into the next Everett drive, Calaj took a dumpoff pass in the left flat, cut to the left sideline and raced his way into the end zone for a 40-yard score and a 14-7 lead. It was the last time the Tide trailed in the game.

Passing marks: Up to this point, the Tide absorbed their fair share of criticism in the passing game despite the high point totals they'd accumulated (39.8 points per game). From head coach John DiBiaso down to his son and quarterback Jonathan, and everyone in between, nobody seemed overly enthused even as the 30-point decisions continued to pile up.

Today, however, was a day of concession. Jonathan spread the ball around evenly to Jakarrie Washington, Jaylen McRae and Felix, as he finished within four passing touchdowns of the state's all-time record of 85.

"It was very good -- and under adverse conditions," smiled John DiBiaso, noting the strong winds to start the game. "We had a couple of bumps in the road, but I thought we did a good job. They're a good team. The way I said it, we were maybe two holding penalties and an interception away from scoring 60 points.

"That -- how can you complain? How can you, like, say 'Jeez, you know, we're not playing'...We're like three plays away from 60 points against a real good team. We're hitting all cylinders, getting better and better at it. The one thing we were able to do was balance out the plays now."

Jonathan finished with 308 yards passing with two touchdowns and a pick, and added a 39-yard scamper with 5:34 to round out the scoring. Meanwhile, the offense overall put up 565 yards.

When the game started, Jonathan was putting a little too much air under the ball and letting the wind get under it. As the game progressed, he shortened up his release and started firing darts across the middle of the field and to the flats, with Felix the biggest benefactor.

"We made adjustments, and when we started getting going in the second quarter, it's hard to stop us," Jonathan said. "We're a high-tempo team, we have five great athletes with the running backs and wide receivers, it's so tough to stop us that we can hit you at any point, and it showed. People stepped up today."

Respect the run: Langston was truly a benefactor today, rushing for a career-high 203 yards on just 15 carries as the Hawks found themselves conflicted on whether to stack the box or not. The Hawks maintained consistent pressure in the trenches thanks to junior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr. (sack); but at the same time, Langston reeled off runs of 26, 32 and 50 off of simple draw plays.

Chris Calvanese (one interception) manned the secondary well as the free safety, but underneath it was the sturdy Langston's hard-nosed running style that kept the defense honest.

"They were overplaying the cutbacks a little, so I just used my eyes," Langston said, while noting Brandon Conde's admirable job filling in at guard for the injured Mike Ottersburg. "My offensive line did a great job. They were just opening the holes, and I run through them."

Quarterback controversy? Calvanese was back in the lineup today, and was under center for the game's first series. But Calvanese, the team's incumbent, found himself mostly lined up at wideout today.

Head coach Charlie Stevenson likes Calvanese's athleticism, and used him all over the field, taking end-around handoffs and option pitches out of the slot, and sometimes going deep on fly routes. Calvanese finished with four catches for 84 yards and a touchdown (a 61-yard gain), and added 15 yards on the ground on four carries.

Meanwhile, junior Austin DeCarr has been topped out at 91 miles per hour on his fastball in the spring and summer, and it showed on the field this afternoon. He finished with a very respectable 13 of 27 for 204 yards and three touchdowns, with one pick.

The gut feeling is that Stevenson will continue to platoon these two, but without compromising Calvanese's exemplary speed. Look for the traditionally-conservative Hawks to get a little more creative as they head into the Catholic Conference season.

Felix the Cat: To say the least, this was a breakout game for Felix. At times the junior showed flashes of Manny Asprilla by doing what the former ESPNBoston All-Stater and Boston College freshman did best for the Tide: taking short passes in the flats or in space downfield, and making defenders miss.

Several times, Felix took a quick screen by the sideline and juked several defensive backs en route to a first down. His touchdown catch, meanwhile, came on a 10-yard skinny post from the right slot that Jonathan hit perfectly in stride.

"I love to challenge one-on-one," Felix said of those short screen passes. "I like the challenge. I like when my team pushes me, I like when they depend on me, and I depend on them [too]. When that play comes up, we look forward to it."

XAV (4-2) 0 7 7 7 --- 21
EVE (6-0) 0 14 7 21 --- 42

Second Quarter
X - D.J. Pagliuca 22 pass from Austin DeCarr (Jules Murphy kick) 6:02
E - Kenny Calaj 10 run (Gilly De Souza kick) 3:28
E - Calaj 40 pass from Jonathan DiBiaso (De Souza kick) 22.3

Third Quarter
E - Jalen Felix 20 pass from DiBiaso (De Souza kick) 8:04
X - Chris Calvanese 61 pass from DeCarr (Murphy kick) 7:03

Fourth Quarter
E - Vondell Langston 13 run (De Souza kick) 9:43
X - Mike Warren 19 pass from DeCarr (Murphy kick) 8:02
E - Langston 18 run (De Souza kick) 7:23
E - DiBiaso 39 run (De Souza kick) 5:34