LYNN, Mass. -– It’s rare to see two football teams scrimmage twice in five days during preseason, but that’s exactly what No. 3 Everett and Lynn English have scheduled this year. The second meeting between these teams was held tonight under the lights at Manning Field, and there were several positives to take away as the regular season quickly approaches.
Sophomore sensation: At 6-foot-4, sophomore quarterback Jordan McAfee not only has the size, but also the tools to become one of the best quarterbacks in the state. His mechanics are smooth, has a solid arm and demonstrates a knack for finding the open receiver. One of his best throws came on a tremendous 37-yard hookup with Boston College commit Lukas Denis. But McAfee’s play of the night came during 7-on-7 drills, when he threw a miraculous 33-yard bullet to Denis, this time squeezing the pass in-between three Lynn English defenders.
Everett did a tremendous job of optimizing the space on the field, mainly as a result of their splits, running several wheel routes with slots and running backs and motioning receivers to create rub routes heading back towards the outside.
"[McAfee] gives us a few more options than we’ve had the past few years," said Everett head coach John DiBiaso. "If he can continue to progress, and stays on track, which we hope he does, and stays healthy, he gives us that added dimension of throwing the ball, which makes the running game that much more effective."
Based on the talent at quarterback and a speedy group of receivers, Everett’s offense should look more like they did in 2011, when record-setting quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso was under center, in comparison to more recent years when their offense seemed to change on a weekly basis.
Solid line play: The Crimson Tide controlled the line offensively behind linemen Eric Trickett, D.J. McDonald and Jefferson Palencia. The holes helped running back Jackinson Joacine stand out on several plays, as the shifty back has a knack for changing direction on a dime with excellent ball carrier vision, that allowed Everett’s run game to be effective. There were several times they came out in pistol and incorporated jet sweep, getting Denis in the mix on the ground. Overall, Everett’s offensive line may be one of the bigger ones in the state and played extremely physical.
Taking control: Despite three of Lynn English’s starting wide receivers not playing, third-year starting quarterback Lucas Harris showed great composer in the pocket and allowed his experience to bring the offense together. What was most impressive with Harris was his ability to make decisions quickly as his rapid release on throws gave his receivers opportunities to make plays.
Most of the Bulldogs’ biggest plays on offense came on completions that were caught for four to seven yards, and then turned into bigger gains. Receiver Miguel Martinez made a plethora of those catches, including a snag on a post route to the back of the end zone during 7-on-7.
Although there were several dropped passes, what’s more important to take away, since this was a scrimmage, is the fact that the Bulldogs can depend on Harris’ leadership when the team needs him most. It’s tough to ask a teenage to take control and lead a team, but Harris certainly is capable of answering the call.
Aggressive approach: Heading into tonight’s scrimmage, the Lynn English coaching staff stressed they had to be more physical. The message must’ve got through, as both the offensive and defensive lines had their moments led by the play of junior offensive/defensive linemen Jeremy Garcia and Victor Morales.
On offense, the blocking allowed senior running back Stevie Collins -- an All-State basketball guard who returns after missing all of last season with a lower body injury -- to turn several runs into big gains, showing off his speed once he got to the outside. Defensively, the Bulldogs were out-sized up front versus a much larger Everett offensive line, but played physical and swarmed to the ball.
“We were much better tonight than were versus Everett Friday night,” said Lynn English coach Peter Holey. “The running game was clicking a little big tonight with Stevie [Collins] and I liked how Lucas [Harris] looked. The offensive line is a work in progress and we missed some assignments but I was pleased with how we came out and played physical.”
For Everett, coach DiBiaso didn’t think his team tackled well but noted that it’s not necessarily his players’ fault.
“It’s hard to blame the kids when you’re only in pads for four days,” DiBiaso said. “We don’t have double-sessions because school started early so it’s tough, but we’ll have to improve on it.”