Boston High School: Manny Asprilla

In Everett, a long, storied DB tradition

December, 3, 2014
Dec 3
It’s been 15 years since Steve Addazio followed Diamond Ferri on the recruiting trail, and the memories of one of the most unforgettable backs to ever come through storied Everett High still linger like the morning dew. Something about those piercing eyes.

[+] EnlargeDiamond Ferri
AP Photo/Scott BoehmDiamond Ferri, whose brief stay in the NFL included time as a Cardinals running back, is the stuff of legend in Everett.
"He was bright-eyed. He loved football," the Boston College head coach fondly beamed following a practice earlier this fall.

Stories about the dazzling playmaking skills of Ferri -- who has bounced around the CFL for most of the last decade after cups of coffee in the NFL and even a stint on the MMA circuit (he was most recently signed by the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Oct. 9) -- are legion, still resonating loudly through the proud, football-mad city of Everett.

In an era of three yards and a cloud of dust, Ferri was a sports car among pickup trucks. In many eyes, he was the total package -- tackling, catching, blocking, speed, agility, hitting -- and it showed with every turn on a dime from his nimble feet. Never had such deliberate, one-cut downhill running looked so graceful on those Saturday afternoons at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Everett head coach John DiBiaso calls Ferri "the most complete player we’ve ever had." BC defensive back Manny Asprilla, an ESPN Boston Mr. Football finalist at Everett in 2010, fondly recalls hearing those stories of Ferri even before he first moved to Everett as an eighth-grader, then rummaging through old YouTubes to see if he was as good as the mythology suggested.

Oh, he sure was.

"He flew," Asprilla said. "I wanted to be like that. I wanted to be able to go untouched through holes. I just wanted to be like that."

Prized and Proud

In the city of Everett, a working-class suburb just across the Mystic River from the Boston neighborhood of Charlestown, football has forever been king. Its rich history is a century old, producing national champions at the turn of the 20th century and sending a handful of players to the NFL, including legendary former Cincinnati Bengals tight end Dan Ross. After some lean years, the Crimson Tide program has experienced a volcanic resurgence over the last two decades under DiBiaso, winning 20 straight Greater Boston League titles and 10 MIAA Super Bowl titles since 1997.

That late-90’s run with Ferri has kicked off a decade-long run in Everett in which the Tide are now annually sending defensive backs off to Division 1 FBS schools.

Outside of the Everett sphere, Ferri is generally known best for being the only player in Big East history to win both Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week in the same week, after a memorable 2004 victory over Boston College in which he recorded a pick-six at safety then scored two rushing touchdowns in taking over for the injured Damien Rhodes.

[+] EnlargeLukas Denis
Brendan Hall/ESPNBostonBoston College commit Lukas Denis is the latest in a long tradition of dominant Everett defensive backs that goes back two decades.
Addazio helped recruit Diamond Ferri to Syracuse, along with then-defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro, but took off for Notre Dame before Ferri arrived on campus.

"Tough program, there’s toughness there. There’s a skill level, and then there’s toughness, and Diamond was one of those guys," Addazio said. "He was a tough guy and he always had a smile on his face. He had a good look about him, that look in his eyes, that you could tell that he loved football."

Fifteen years after his run at Everett, winning two Division 1 Super Bowls, Ferri’s eyes now looked across the field as the Tide warmed up for a preseason scrimmage in Lynn, volunteering his time as an assistant coach for players who first heard his story years ago.

"When you look at Everett, and Everett football in particular, there’s major history," Ferri said. "Everett has changed multiculturally in the last 10 to 20 years. Before it was all Irish and Italian, and now it’s all Haitian, Puerto Rico and Brazil, just a lot of kids from other countries. And I think they just see all the kids go and they follow."

True, a lot has changed in Everett over the last 20 years -- a 2010 U.S. Census estimated one-third of the city’s residents are now foreign-born, nearly a 200-percent increase from 1990 -- but the football culture has remained the lifeblood. And the kids, they certainly follow.

Before Asprilla was running wild in BC’s secondary, he was watching former Eagle Isaac Johnson lead the Tide to back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 2006-07.

Before Nerlens Noel was an NBA lottery pick, he was a scrawny 6-foot-9 freshman idling on the Tide sidelines, watching his brothers Jim (BC) and Rodman (NC State) hover the secondary before moving on to ACC schools.

From the first wave of Everett stars under DiBiaso -- from Omar Easy to Ferri and Frank Nuzzo -- to the present day, where the Tide now turn to Boston College-bound cornerback Lukas Denis, athleticism has never been lacking. But over the last decade or so, more and more colleges have begun flocking to Everett to check out their defensive backs -- and more often than not, they have liked their returns.

One month before National Letter of Intent Signing Day in 2013, a chance encounter at a Walter Camp Award dinner in Connecticut led Wisconsin defensive backs coach Bill Busch to lightly-recruited Everett athlete Jakarrie Washington, who had no scholarship offers but clocked sub-4.5 speed.

"I know this, I sure as heck would love to come back -- I'm sure impressed," Busch told in February 2013, after signing Washington to the Badgers’ recruiting class. "There are kids in the city that are tough as heck."

True to his word, he came back, signing safety Lubern Figaro to the Badgers’ 2014 class last February. And just like Washington, Figaro got on the field as a true freshman. He made his first start in the Badgers’ first game of the season; headed into this weekend’s Big Ten Championship, Figaro has made five starts, recording 19 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.

When Denis arrives in Chestnut Hill next fall, he’ll be Boston College’s fourth defensive back recruit from Everett since 2008. But what was once primarily a pipeline for northeastern colleges now fields inquiries from FBS schools all over, from Gainesville, Fla. down to Lubbock, Texas, all the way up to Pullman, Wash.

"Some of us defensive backs weren’t the biggest but we were all fast," Asprilla said. "But just being in the right place at the right time and flying around on the field is what distinguishes us from other defensive backs.

"I feel like we’re not the best backs in the world -- I’m not trying to take it away from anybody if they’re good -- but the fact that we can go from one side of the field to the other without thinking about ‘oh I’m tired’ or ‘I don’t feel like running because it’s not my play to be made’ is what I think distinguishes us from everybody else."

A Full Court Press

The defensive backs in Everett over the years have come in all shapes and sizes. Some are long, some are compact, others are just flat-out burners.

But here’s another common thread between all of the defensive backs over the years: Most, if not all, suited up for DiBiaso’s varsity basketball squads during the winter time.

[+] EnlargeManny Asprilla
Brendan Hall, ESPNBoston.comBoston College cornerback Manny Asprilla idolized former greats Isaac Johnson and Diamond Ferri growing up in Everett.
DiBiaso has had his fair share of success on the hardwood, sending a handful of players to Division 1 schools, reaching a Division 1 state final, and distinguishing himself as the only coach in state history to win over 400 basketball games and 250 football games.

In most years, DiBiaso will typically run variations of a diamond-and-one full court press, with lots of trapping and pinning the opposition along the sidelines. In a sport where power forwards are routinely making transitions from the hardwood to the Pro Bowl, DiBiaso’s unique approach to high school hoops seems to pay off on the gridiron.

"The agility you get from playing basketball by the work of having to cover people, you would never get on your own without doing covering drills as a football player," DiBiaso said. "I wish more kids would [play both sports] because it’s really helped with our younger guys coming up.

"Jakarrie was a great defender, and so was Manny and Isaac. Jimmy [Noel] would cover the high scorer. They were all good defenders, and I think they learned that mentality from basketball. They were all pretty good defenders in basketball, and they carried it over to football. I wish I could say there’s a secret formula in the water, but there’s not. I think a lot of your great basketball players in this state don’t play football, but I think a lot more would get scholarships if they did."

At Everett, basketball defense isn’t as simple as just a 2-3 zone or a man-to-man. DiBiaso likes his defenses triangular, and will often stick his best defensive back on an opponent’s best scorer, harassing the player up and down the floor.

"You have to be able to see the pick from your peripheral and be able to go over it or under it, judging on how the pick is coming on you," Asprilla said. "I didn’t really start playing defensive back in high school until senior year, until I got the [BC] offer. And now that I think about it, [basketball] helped. When you have a receiver that runs a drive route under the linebackers you have to sort your way through it. When I do it on the field, I have no fear going through that. So that helped, when I would see a pick coming to be set on me to help get their best man open, and I’d have to work around it."

Asprilla was part of one of Everett’s more high-profile teams in recent years, the 2008-09 squad that reached the Division 1 North semfinals and featured a 14-year-old Nerlens Noel. As one of the Tide’s premier defensive backs, Asprilla often played a trapper role in DiBiaso’s press.

"When you’re playing the trap, you can’t be lazy," Asprilla said. "When I say lazy, I mean being slow with your feet. When you’re out on the field, and say you’re breaking on a slant, you have to be able to keep your feet hot and be able to break on a straight line from here to there and meet him where he’s going, not where he is at the moment."

Denis, who lives about a four-minute walk from Everett Memorial Stadium, is one of the few to break canon. He doesn’t play a winter sport, saying bluntly, "Basketball is a wild sport, and it’s not like I was good at it, so why waste time?"

Each morning this offseason, he says, Denis would get up at four o’clock and find a crease in the fence surrounding the stadium, which is compacted tightly into a residential neighborhood off of Revere Beach Parkway. There, he would run stadium steps and sometimes work on 1-on-1 coverage drills when friends joined.

Literally, Denis was asked by a reporter, you’re going through someone’s backyard to hop a fence and run stadium steps at four in the morning?

"It’s worth it," Denis smiled.

One Big Brotherhood

The sense of fraternity is strong in Everett. Just as Ferri has come back to the sidelines, or how Easy left a gig with his alma mater Penn State two years ago to become a Vice Principal at Everett, few are ever truly far away.

"Competition is what we passed on. You wanted to be better than the man that was ahead of you," Asprilla said. "You didn’t want to be known as, ‘This guy was the best and you were close enough.’ You wanted to be the next guy that they would say, ‘Man, we need one of him’."

Denis still hears from graduated former teammates of his, who watch Everett games on Hudl and give him pointers. When he has Friday nights off next year at BC, Denis says he plans on making his way to see the Tide in action, watching the next generation come through.

Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, the Tide will face off with rival Xaverian Brothers High for the MIAA Division 1 State Championship, gunning for a fourth MIAA title in five seasons and the 11th of DiBiaso’s tenure. They have come roaring back this fall after a disappointing end to 2013, when they fell to Central Catholic on their own home turf in the Division 1 North final.

Lots went wrong on that day, but the sight of Central receiver Cody Demers slicing in front of Figaro for the winning touchdown in the waning minutes is not soon forgotten. Even from all the way in Madison, Wisc., getting ready to play for a Big Ten Championship this weekend, Figaro has still found time to remind Denis how it ended.

"Oh God, he’ll never forget that moment," Denis said of Figaro. "He talks about it all the time. He says, ‘Don’t let that be you’."

Denis has turned in a dominant campaign this fall as the undisputed leader of the Tide on both sides of the ball, sometimes owning the game in all three phases for stretches. Last month, Denis was named a finalist for ESPN Boston’s prestigious "Mr. Football" award, given to the best overall player in Massachusetts. Another five-tool performance at Gillette could give him the edge when the award is announced next week.

Out on the turf at Gillette on Tuesday morning, greeting the media as part of the annual MIAA State Championship Breakfast activities, Denis stood out loudly from the crowd, donning a bright yellow cardigan in a sea of letterman jackets.

"When you can’t do it, you still have to do it," Denis said as he talked about his mindset going into Saturday. "There’s no other option. After the game, you’ll thank yourself."

Listening closely, you get the feeling there’s more than hardware on the line this weekend.

Shriners Football Classic rosters announced

May, 5, 2011
The North-South game of the 33rd Annual Shriners Football Classic kicks off this June 17 at 7 p.m., and for the second year in a row the contest will be held at Gillette Stadium. Below are the rosters for both squads participating in the game:

Ryan Adams, Northeast, DE
James Aloisio, Masconoment, OT
Eric Apgar, Acton-Boxborough, RB
Anthony Arcari, Tewksbury, RB
Manny Asprilla, Everett, WR
Derek Bent, Shawsheen, TE
Brian Bourque, Reading, DB
James Brao, Hamilton-Wenham, LB
Cal Carroll, Methuen, QB
Brendan Casey, Boston Latin, DT
Thomas Chub, Masconomet, OL
Mitchell Colley, Arlington, LB
Sean Connolly, Tewksbury, FS
Tyler Coppola, St. John's Prep, RB
Matt Costello, Everett, WR
Anthony Courtouis, Lowell, WR
Jeff Covitz, Reading, OL
Nate Cyr, St. John's Prep, OL
Ned Deane, Andover, LB
Ryan Delisle, St. John's Prep, TE
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter, DE
Mike Grassa, BB&N, DB
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic, OL
Mike Harper, Methuen, LB
Zach Hayes, Chelmsford, S
Justin Hood, Billerica, DE
Brian Hurley, Wilmington
Zach Ingalls, Westford, DB
George Kallas, Beverly, OT
Ben Koopman, Marblehead, C
Chris Malonis, Dracut, WR
Tyllor MacDonald, Lynn English, DB
Tom Meade, Malden Catholic, LB
Trae Musumarra, Central Catholic, LB
Zach Nardone, Bishop Fenwick, DT
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy, OL
John O'Connell, Northeast, DL
Daniel Omorgie, Lynn Classical, DE
Xavier Peralta, Central Catholic, DB
Ony Ramos, Lawrence, DB
Peter Savarese, BB&N, RB
Jordan Shairs, Gloucester, RB
Matt Silva, Dracut, QB
Bradley Skeffington, Salem, DB
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury, DL
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian's, WR
Dave Summiel, Shawsheen, DT
Chris Unis, Gloucester, DE
Trae Weathers, Revere, RB
Sean Whittaker, Methuen, OL
Peter Yasi, Swampscott, DE

Matt Allen, Pembroke, SE
Ryan Barrett, Holliston, TE
Rob Barrus, Weymouth, LB
Adam Boari, King Philip, OL
Blaise Branch, Cardinal Spellman, RB
Lance Burlingame, New Bedford, OL
Jack Carrier, Cohasset, SE
Dylan Colarusso, Weymouth, RB
Joe Colton, Xaverian, DB
Tom Condon, Whitman-Hanson, OL
David Conroy, Walpole, SE
Nate Crary, Dennis-Yarmouth, DL
Seth DeMello, Somerset, RB
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, OL
Mike Driscoll, Rockland, FB
Connor Fraser, Abington, DL
Jake Golden, Hingham, OL
Mitchell Graziano, Silver Lake, DB
William Greene, Oliver Ames, DE
Ernest Guy, Foxborough, OL
Joseph Hak, East Bridgewater, OL
Matt Hallisey, Duxbury, SE
Brian Harrington, Rockland, DE
Jordan Henderson, Barnstable, WR
D.J. Jamieson, West Bridgewater, RB
Randall Jette, Martha's Vineyard, DB
Dan Johnson, North Attleboro, SE
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth, OL
Matt Lockwood, Seekonk, RB
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton, SE
Denis Maguire, Duxbury, LB
Jamel Marshall, Mansfield, RB
Zach Martin, Mashpee, RB
Alec May, King Philip, TE
Sean Mayo, Holliston, QB
Paul McCarthy, North Attleboro, DB
Kyle McGuire, Mansfield, OL
Dave McSweeney, Medway, OL
Obum Obukwelu, BC High, OL
Trevon Offley, Brockton, RB
Jon Page, Bourne, RB
Tyler Park, Scituate, QB
Liam Porter, Natick, OL
Ethan Rayner, Holliston, OL
Nate Robitaille, Attleboro, DB
Andrew Siden, Natick, TE
Kevin Stanton, Cardinal Spellman, LB
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North, OL
Chris Tamasi, Xaverian, LB
Ryan Vaughn, Norwell, OL


Football, Albert Louis-Jean, St. John's Prep, Andrew Kestenbaum, Liam Porter, Lynn English, Chelmsford, Swampscott, Gloucester, Tyllor MacDonald, Lincoln-Sudbury, Plymouth North, Manny Asprilla, Matt Costello, Central Catholic, Obum Obukwelu, Barnstable, Bridgewater-Raynham, Paul Nwokeji, Zach Smerlas, Andrew Siden, Matt Silva, Matt Hallisey, Acton-Boxborough, Eric Apgar, Chris Malonis, Lance Burlingame, Joe Colton, Chris Tamasi, Trevon Offley, Oliver Ames, Ryan Barrett, Ethan Rayner, Paul McCarthy, Dan Johnson, Trae Musumarra, Xavier Peralta, King Philip, Adam Boari, Mike Devin, Tyler Coppola, Ryan Delisle, Brian Bourque, Jeff Covitz, Zach Hayes, Jordan Henderson, Zach Ingalls, Cal Carroll, Mike Harper, Sean Whittaker, Justin Hood, Chris Unis, Jake Giovanucci, Jamel Marshall, Kyle McGuire, Malden Catholic, Will Guinee, Dennis-Yarmouth, Nate Crary, Jordan Shairs, Anthony Arcari, Sean Connolly, Cardinal Spellman, Blaise Branch, Peter Savarese, Connor Fraser, Silver Lake, Seth DeMello, Trae Weathers, Lynn Classical, Martha's Vineyard, Randall Jette, New Bedford, Rob Barrus, Dave McSweeney, St. Sebastian's, Brian Strachan, Peter Yasi, Mike Driscoll, Brian Harrington, Whitman-Hanson, Bishop Fenwick, Masconomet, Jeff Synan, East Bridgewater, Boston Latin, David Conroy, Foxborough, Hamilton-Wenham, West Bridgewater, Derek Bent, George Kallas, Tyler Park, D.J. Jamieson, James Brao, Ryan Adams, Denis Maguire, Thayer Academy, Marblehead, Ben Koopman, Wilmington, Brian Hurley, Shriners Football Classic, James Aloisio, Brendan Casey, Thomas Chub, Mitchell Colley, Anthony Courtouis, Mike Grassa, Zach Nardone, John O'Connell, Daniel Omorgie, Bradley Skeffington, Dave Summiel, Matt Allen, Jack Carrier, Tom Condon, Jake Golden, Mitchell Graziano, William Greene, Ernest Guy, Joseph Hak, North Attleboro, Matt Lockwood, Zach Martin, Kevin Stanton, Ryan Vaughn

Football Signing Day is here

February, 2, 2011
The first day of the football National Letter of Intent signing period has arrived, and we've got you covered all day (though we'll probably be buried under snow ourselves). Here is a list of Massachusetts athletes committed to Division 1 programs headed into today's big day.

Any commitments can be sent to Scott Barboza at or Brendan Hall at

(NOTE: The Ivy League does not recognize National Letters of Intent)

Taariq Allen, Rivers – Nebraska
Manny Asprilla, Everett – Boston College
Dalton Gifford, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/Barnstable – UConn
Marcus Grant, Lawrence Academy – Iowa
Harry Keselman, Oliver Ames - Temple
Anthony Knight, Lawrence Academy – Nevada
Albert Louis-Jean, Brockton – Boston College (enrolled in January)
Brian Miller, Andover – Boston College
Paul Nwokeji, Thayer Academy – UConn
Rodman Noel, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Everett – NC State
Mike Orloff, Lawrence Academy – UCLA
Liam Porter, Natick – Boston College
Max Ricci, Lawrence Academy – Boston College
Richard Rodgers, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Cal
Andrew Siden, Natick – Tulane

Jeff Anderson, Longmeadow - Brown
Ryan Barrett, Holliston – Bryant
Connor Candito, Bridgton Academy (Maine)/St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Sacred Heart
Jamie Casselbury, Philips Andover - UMass
Connor Caveney, Cushing Academy - Sacred Heart
Matt Costello, Everett – Princeton
Jeff Covitz, Reading - Bryant
Ryan Delisle, St. John’s Prep – Harvard
Anthony Fabiano, Wakefield – Harvard
Ryan Flannery, North Attleborough - Columbia
Justin Flores, Tilton School/Woburn - Maine
Dan Giovacchini, Lawrence Academy – Brown
Will Guinee, Malden Catholic - Dartmouth
Greg Hilliard, Suffield Academy (Conn.)/Brockton – UMass
Clay Horne, Lawrence Academy – Villanova
Brandon Howard, Worcester Academy/King Philip - UMass
Randall Jette, Martha’s Vineyard – UMass
Isaiah Jones, Mahar - Maine
Andrew Kestenbaum, Dartmouth – Rhode Island
Ben Koopman, Marblehead – Holy Cross
John Lavin, Falmouth – Bryant
Dan Light, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Fordham
Harrison Lyons, Avon Old Farms (Conn.)/Norwell - Bryant
Alec May, King Philip - Georgetown
Brian McDonald, Hebron Academy (Maine)/Westwood - Sacred Heart
Andrew Mizzoni, Gloucester – Holy Cross
Obum Obukwelu, BC High – Harvard
Ben Patrick, Rivers – UMass (preferred walk-on)
Jason Richard, Milford Academy (N.Y.)/Weston - Sacred Heart
Peter Savarese, BB&N - Dartmouth
Zach Smerlas, Lincoln-Sudbury – Brown
Keshaudas Spence, Taft (Conn.)/Catholic Memorial - Sacred Heart
Charlie Storey, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
Brian Strachan, St. Sebastian’s – Brown
Cam Sullivan, Westfield - Bryant
Jeff Synan, Plymouth North - Bryant
Ben Ticknor, Milton Academy - Dartmouth
John Wallace, Somerville – UMass
Ryan Welch, Lawrence Academy – UNH
Conor Wyand, Nashoba - Brown

Nick Broughton, Marblehead - Merrimack
Matt Delaney, Barnstable - Assumption
Chris Mooney, Stoneham - Assumption
Mike Muir, Xaverian - Bentley
Bobby Richman, North Attleborough - Bentley
Chris Unis, Gloucester - Merrimack

Eric Bertino, BB&N - Middlebury
Ned Deane, Andover - Amherst
Mike Devin, Bridgewater-Raynham, Bowdoin
James DiBlaisi, BB&N - Trinity
Josh Friedland, Marblehead - Bates
Jake Giovanucci, Dexter - Bowdoin
Mike Gustafson, Belmont Hill - Washington & Lee
Brett Harasimowicz, Duxbury - Middlebury
Mike Hogan, St. John's (Shrewsbury) - Wesleyan
Matt Perlow, Marblehead - Bowdoin
Mike Tomaino, Gloucester - Bates

No. 5 Cambridge cruises through No. 21 Everett

January, 12, 2011

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Fifteen points, fifteen rebounds, five well-timed blocks, no matter. The countenance doesn't lie.

And Jacquil Taylor was visibly thwarted as he left the locker room following his No. 5 Cambridge Falcons' all-too-easy 60-44 win over their Greater Boston League nemesis, No. 21 Everett. It was a sloppy night, but one that started on a very high note for his teammates (a game-opening 12-4 run yielded a 32-18 halftime lead) and a very low one for him. The 6-foot-8 sophomore finished strong, and as usual made some highlight-reel dunks to spark the Falcons (7-0), but started the night off 0 for 6.

Not a totally disappointing night -- "We got the win, but we need to make some corrections," he shrugged -- but frustrating?

"Yeah, and it was very bad in my case," Taylor said. "I'd rather start the game off making all six shots instead of missing them. Going 0 for 6, to me that's bad."

Meanwhile, across the hallway, Cambridge head coach Lance Dottin was taking deep breaths and shaking his head about some other perceived deficiencies in the win. Namely, the Crimson Tide (5-1) threw 2-3 zone looks at the Falcons for extended periods of time, especially in the second half, doubling down on Taylor in the post with its long, lean tandem of senior Erno Deshommes and junior Alain Jeanty (13 points, 14 rebounds).

That left junior Maurice Taylor and seniors Kyroe Qualls-Betts and Andre Dottin with a slew of open looks on the perimeter, ones they did not convert into buckets. Overall, the Falcons shot 38 percent from the field, and were 2 of 24 from three-point range.

"There were alot of open shots, and you've got to knock them down when you're open," Dottin said. "I thought we did a poor job of moving the basketball, getting stuck on one side of the floor, but that's what happens when you're settling for shots -- you know, that first pass. We've gotta get out of that first pass syndrome, and we've got to get that ball moving and attacking the zone a whole lot better.

"We'll do that, we'll keep practicing, so we're gonna just get back to work. We're happy with the win, GBL, so we'll just make sure that we've got to work on those things."

But a win -- and a double-digit one over an ESPNBoston MIAA Top 25 team at that -- is a win. And the Falcons proved once again to be special when given the opportunity to push the tempo. Deondre Starling (15 points, 11 rebounds) capped a game-opening 12-4 run for Cambridge with a steal at the right wing and driving layup, after which Everett head coach Bippy Manuel first called for the zone.

The Falcons opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run to push out to a 22-7 lead, highlighted by the first of several explosive dunks by Jacquil Taylor. Jacquil took a long outlet pass from his brother down the left flank, gathered and slammed the ball home with two hands. They followed up on the next possession with Marcus Faison (11 points) converting a three-point play for a 15-point lead with five minutes left in the first half.

Minutes later, with Cambridge holding a 26-10 lead, Jeanty racked up his second foul, and that gave way to another Jacquil Taylor dunk with just over a minute to go in the first half. This time, it was a two-handed tip-slam off an errant three-pointer from Tyrone Dacosta to make it 30-18.

"It's like an energy boost," Starling said of Jacquil Taylor's dunks. "It gives everyone momentum. Everyone gets hyped up, the crowd goes wild, we get hyper, it gets us back to reality, knowing where we're at right now."

Starling, meanwhile, might have been the star of the night. In addition to the presence his lanky 6-foot-4 frame made around the rim at both ends, he was tasked with manning up the Tide's best playmaking guard, Manny Asprilla (13 points). The senior, who is committed to Boston College for football, made some terrific drives through the lane and connected well with his post players, but in spurts. Meanwhile Matt Costello, making his season debut after battling an ankle injury the first month, was held without a point in seven attempts from the field.

"He's always big. I mean, Deondre's big, he's a fabulous player," Dottin said. "He can do so many different things. He can rebound on both ends of the floor, he's great off the offensive glass, but he's even better on the defensive glass. And then, Deondre can pretty much cover anyone we ask him to cover. And tonight we really needed him to pressure the ball, and get on Manny, and that's what he did. That's what Deondre does, he's kind of Mr. Everything."

Mass coaches name All-State football team

December, 21, 2010
The Massachusetts High School Football Coaches Association announced its All-State team on Tuesday.

Eastern Mass Division 1 Super Bowl champion Everett led the way with three selections, with quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso, wide receiver Matt Costello and defensive back Manny Asprilla taking honors.

Here's the list of honorees:


Jonathan DiBiaso, Jr., Everett
Nick LaSpada, Jr., Billerica
Tom Murphy, Sr., Northbridge

Running back
Isaiah Jones, Sr., Mahar
Jamel Marshall, Sr., Mansfield
Jordan Shairs, Sr., Gloucester

Matt Costello, Sr., Everett
Richard Rodgers, Sr., St. John's (Shrewsbury)

Offensive line
Lance Burlingame, Sr., New Bedford
Jeff Covitz, Sr., Reading
George Kallas, Sr., Beverly
Obum Obukwelu, Sr., BC High
Liam Porter, Sr., Natick

Defensive line

Brian Miller, Sr., Andover
Zach Smerlas, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
Chris Unis, Sr., Gloucester

Seth DeMello, Sr., Somerset
Dan Giovacchini, Sr., Lawrence Academy
Matthew LeBlanc, Sr., Wachusett
Mike Mercadante, Sr., Minnechaug
Conor Wyand, Sr., Nashoba

Defensive back
Manny Asprilla, Sr., Everett
Dan Johnson, Sr., North Attleborough
Joe Colton, Sr., Xaverian
Albert Louis-Jean, Sr., Brockton
Brian Strachan, Sr., St. Sebastian's

Everett's DiBiaso is Patriots' Coach of the Year

December, 16, 2010
Courtesy of the New England Patriots:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Less than two weeks after winning the MIAA Division I Super Bowl championship at Gillette Stadium, Everett High School’s Head Coach John DiBiaso has been named the New England Patriots High School Coach of the Year in recognition of his team’s undefeated season and their Super Bowl victory. The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation will donate $2,000 to Everett High School’s football program in DiBiaso’s name in recognition of his Coach of the Year selection.
[+] EnlargeJohn DiBiaso
New England Patriots/Christy Berkery Everett High School football coach John DiBiaso and some of his players joined Andre Tippett and Steve Burton on the set of "Patriots All Access."

DiBiaso and some of his players – Manny Asprilla, Nick Chiarello, Matt Costello, Jonathan DiBiaso, Vondell Langston and Shaquille Taylor – along with Assistant Coaches Mike Milo and John Cappra were guests at Gillette Stadium on Wednesday to receive the award. They will be featured on the team’s weekly television magazine show, Patriots All Access, which airs at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 17 on WBZ-TV in Boston and later on

Each week this season, one Massachusetts high school coach has been awarded the New England Patriots Coach of the Week honor, culminating with this week’s Coach of the Year award to DiBiaso. This season marks the 15th year in which the Patriots have joined the National Football League in conducting the High School Coach of the Week program, which recognizes outstanding high school coaches and promotes youth football throughout New England. Patriots and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett, the team’s executive director of community affairs, oversees the program as part of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s commitment to youth football initiatives.

“This was the perfect season for the Everett High School football team,” said Tippett. “They finished 12-0, winning the Massachusetts High School Division I Super Bowl championship. They took last year’s Super Bowl loss versus Xaverian High School and used it as a teaching experience and inspiration for the following year. To go 12-0 takes a strong commitment by a dedicated group of players and coaching staff who never took their eyes off the bullseye. We congratulate the Everett High School Football team and coaches on a job well done from start to finish this year, and are happy to honor Coach DiBiaso with our Coach of the Year award.”

ESPNBoston's MIAA All-State Team

December, 7, 2010
QB -- Dan Light, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
In his first year under center after playing tight end last year for the Pioneers, the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder spearheaded one of the state’s most prolific offenses with precision, as the Pioneers rolled to their second straight Division 1 Central Mass Super Bowl title. He threw for 2,171 yards and 32 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, and on the ground he added 1,131 yards and 16 more scores. Light is considering several Division 1 schools.

QB -- Jonathan DiBiaso, Jr., Everett
In his record-setting junior campaign, DiBiaso helped deliver the Crimson Tide their eighth Division 1 Super Bowl title in 12 years. He threw for 2,885 yards and a state single-season record 43 touchdowns, to just four interceptions, and capped with a 31-7 win over St. John’s Prep at Gillette Stadium for the Super Bowl title. He has 59 touchdown passes for his career.

QB -- Nick LaSpada, Jr., Billerica
The junior, who won the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2009, lived up to the hype in spite of a marginal season for the 5-6 Indians. He threw for 2,738 yards and 25 touchdowns, and added 1,064 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground, averaging over eight yards per carry. For his career, he has thrown for over 5,800 yards and ran for over 3,500 in his three years as starting quarterback. LaSpada is being recruited by a number of Division 1 FBS schools, including Boston College, Notre Dame, Oregon, Alabama, Penn State, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, USC, Florida State and Stanford.

RB -- Trevon Offley, Sr., Brockton
In taking over full-time rushing duties from his cousin, Khalil James-Offley, the 5-foot-6, 190-pound Trevon proved to be one of the state’s toughest runners in between the tackles. Offley carried 155 times for 1,364 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 8.8 yards per carry for the 8-3 Boxers.
RB -- Jamel Marshall, Sr., Mansfield
After backing up Shawn Doherty in 2009 and watching him set a school record, the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Marshall went ahead and smashed it. His 1,339 yards on the ground (including 7.1 yards per carry) broke Doherty’s mark of 1,239, and his 21 touchdowns came within striking distance of breaking a two-decade record held by Omari Walker. Marshall is considering several Division 1-AA and Division 2 schools.

RB -- Tyler Coppola, Sr., St. John’s Prep
As the focal point of the 8-5 Eagles’ offense, the 5-foot-7, 185-pound Coppola did not disappoint. He carried the ball a yeoman 243 times for 2,172 yards and 20 touchdowns, including an unheard-of 348 yards and six scores against St. Joseph’s (Md.) in October, as the Eagles captured a share of the Catholic Conference title and reached the Division 1 Eastern Mass Super Bowl for the first time since 2002.

RB -- Andrew Coke, Jr., Andover
After an outstanding sophomore season at Brooks School alongside current BYU freshman Jordan Johnson, Coke transferred back to his hometown high school and helped lead the Golden Warriors to their first Merrimack Valley Conference title in 35 years. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound junior carried 304 times for 1,841 yards and 29 touchdowns (most in Division 1), and as a wildcat quarterback completed 24 of 34 passes for 267 yards and two more scores.

WR -- Matt Costello, Sr., Everett
After a tremendous senior season, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Costello racked up numerous awards, including this year’s state Gatorade Player of the Year and ESPNBoston’s inaugural Mr. Football award. Costello played an instrumental role in DiBiaso’s state-record junior campaign, as he caught 76 balls for 1,301 yards and 23 touchdowns – including 11 catches for 145 yards and three scores in the Tide’s 31-7 victory over St. John’s Prep in the Division 1 Super Bowl. Costello is considering Princeton, Penn and Harvard.

WR -- Richard Rodgers, Sr., St. John’s (Shrewsbury)
The talented Rodgers tore up the competition once again in his senior campaign with the Division 1 Super Bowl champion Pioneers. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder caught 65 balls for 1,064 yards and 17 touchdowns, for an average of 16.4 yards per catch. He was also a force at defensive end, recording eight sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception. Rodgers is following in his father’s footsteps, as he will play tight end next fall at Cal.

WR -- Jordan Henderson, Sr., Barnstable
The speedy Henderson made a name for himself as one of the state’s most dangerous threats in the short passing game, leading the 7-4 Red Raiders in every receiving category. The 6-foot, 180-pounder caught 61 balls for 1,069 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 17.5 yards per catch.
TE -- Anthony Fabiano, Sr., Wakefield
One of several outstanding tight ends to be used in more of a blocking role, the 6-foot-5, 258-pound Fabiano excelled on both sides of the ball for the 6-4 Warriors, who captured their second straight Middlesex League Small title. Fabiano caught 23 passes for 267 yards, and as a defensive end recorded 57 tackles, a team-high nine sacks and three forced fumbles.

TE -- Ryan Barrett, Sr., Holliston
Like Fabiano, Barrett was used primarily in a blocking role for the 12-1 Panthers, who captured their first Super Bowl title since 1985 with a 21-7 win over Cardinal Spellman. With Barrett’s guidance, the Panthers ran for more than 2,500 yards on the ground and scored more than 500 points through the ground and air. Barrett is committed to Bryant University, where his brother Andrew is currently a sophomore offensive lineman.

OL -- Nathan Cyr, Sr., St. John’s Prep
The 6-foot-1, 246-pound Cyr was one of the state’s best run-blockers this season, paving the way to a monster season from Coppola and over 3,000 yards on the ground total as the Eagles captured a share of the Catholic Conference title and went to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2002. Cyr is committed to Trinity College.

OL -- John Wallace, Sr., Somerville
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound Wallace was a three-year starter for the Highlanders, and is a two-time Greater Boston League All-Star. This season for 4-6 Somerville, he recorded 68 tackles and five sacks while also providing plenty of run support as both a guard and tackle. He is considering several Division 1 FCS schools, including UMass and New Hampshire.

OL -- Jeff Covitz, Sr., Reading
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound Covitz, a three-year starter for the 12-1 Rockets, was a force at right tackle for the Rockets, paving the way for one of the state’s most potent rushing attacks (45 rushing touchdowns). At defensive end, he was a dominant run-plugger for a defense that allowed a Division 2-best 8.7 points per game.

OL -- Ian Levesque, Sr., Somerset
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound tackle paved the way for two 1,000-yard rushers in Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear for the 12-1 Blue Raiders, who advanced to their first Super Bowl since 1981. In addition to helping the Raiders rack up nearly 300 rushing yards per game and over 50 rushing touchdowns, he also was an anchor along the line of a defense that allowed just 11 points per game. He is considering several Division 1 FCS schools, including Colgate and Wagner.

OL -- Lance Burlingame, Sr., New Bedford
The 6-foot-4, 255-pounder is a two-time Big 3 Conference All-Star at offensive tackle and defensive end. In 10 games, he demonstrated outstanding feet as both run and pass blocker, and proved just as dominant defensively with 84 tackles, seven sacks, four forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries. He is considering several Division 1 FCS schools, including UMass, New Hampshire and Maine.

ATH -- Armani Reeves, Jr., Catholic Memorial
The 5-foot-10, 178-pound Reeves emerged as one of the state’s most electric playmakers this season for the 5-5 Knights, lining up all over the field to great results. He amassed 1,279 all-purpose yards and scored 16 touchdowns in four different ways – receiving, rushing, punt and kick returns. He currently holds 10 scholarship offers from Division 1 schools, including Boston College, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Virginia, UConn and Penn State.

ATH -- Isaiah Jones, Sr., Mahar
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound Jones emerged as one of the state’s most elusive weapons in the open field, with 40 speed in the 4.5’s. In a season hampered by injury, he carried 151 times for 1,726 yards and 23 touchdowns, added 150 receiving yards, and also had three returns for touchdowns (two punt, one kickoff). For his career, he amassed over 4,400 yards rushing. Jones is considering several Division 1 schools, including Boston College, UMass and New Hampshire.

K -- Connor McDavitt, Sr., Wachusett
While his powerful right leg wasn’t called into action as much, the 5-foot-7 McDavitt demonstrated great range when called upon, hitting from a long of 42 yards this year for the Division 1A Central Mass Super Bowl Champion Mountaineers. He recorded 14 touchbacks, and also had a net punting average of 42.5 yards.

DL - Chris Unis, Sr., Gloucester
After recovering from an elbow injury, Unis returned to lead the Fishermen to their second straight Super Bowl title and third in the last four years. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound speed rusher proved a handful for offensive linemen and was also vital to Gloucester’s running game, playing tight end. Unis also collected his third straight Northeastern Conference All-Star nod.

DL - Obum Obukwelu, Sr., BC High
The 6-foot-1, 255-pounder was an imposing figure on the Eagles’ defensive line and tallied 8.5 sacks on 68 tackles with 18 tackles for a loss. Obukwelu is committed to play football at Harvard next year.
DL - Zach Smerlas, Sr., Lincoln-Sudbury
The three-year defensive starter often faced double and triple teams against him this season, but the senior captain still managed to make 40 tackles (18 solo) while clogging up the interior for the Dual County League Large champion Warriors.
DL - Shaquille Taylor, Sr., Everett
Taylor was the affable heart of the defense for the Eastern Mass Division I Super Bowl champions. The 5-foot-11, 275-pounder was an immovable object on the line, stuffing the run and showing speed to pressure the quarterback.
LB - Chris Tamasi, Sr., Xaverian
The senior captain was the fulcrum of the Hawks’ defense and a steady contributor out of the backfield on offense. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder has verbally committed to play football at Amherst College next year.

LB - Matt Walsh, Sr., Plymouth North
Walsh provided bite to the Eagles’ offense and defense as both a hard-nosed fullback and middle linebacker. While leading Plymouth North’s defense, which surrendered just 10 points per game, Walsh also tallied 12 touchdowns. A talented catcher, he has committed to Franklin Pierce where he will play baseball.

LB - Jordan Shairs, Sr., Gloucester
For everything that Chris Unis or Andrew Mizzoni weren’t able to get to up front, Shairs was there to clean up. The 6-foot, 210-pounder helped the Gloucester defense average just 10 points per game against and saw a bulk of Gloucester’s carries following Gilbert Brown’s injury, tallying 31 total touchdowns (30 rushing) on the season. Shairs was named Northeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Year and league All-Star for his 1,400-yard rushing performance.

LB - Tim Joy, Jr., Chelmsford
Already a two-time all-conference teamer, Joy had 131 tackles, including 13 for a loss, two sacks and three interceptions for his junior season. He has been recruited by several FBS schools, including Boston College.
LB - Ned Deane, Sr., Andover
Deane provided the bite to the defense that helped the Golden Warriors to a Merrimack Valley Conference Large title. The 6-foot-2, 205-pounder led Andover with 112 tackles in addition to three sacks and an interception. He is considering Amherst, Dartmouth, Harvard and Princeton among his college choices.

LB -- Kevin Curry, Sr., Holliston
The Tri-Valley League Defensive Player of the Year was a force on both sides of the ball for the 12-1 Panthers, who captured the Division 3A Super Bowl crown. In addition to manning the middle on a defense that allowed just 11.5 points per game, Curry carried the ball 139 times for 1,144 yards and 14 touchdowns, for an average of 8.2 yards per carry.

DB - Albert Louis-Jean, Sr., Brockton
The shutdown corner was also a double-threat for the Boxers, hauling in 28 catches for 572 yards and five touchdowns on offense. The 6-foot-1, 175-pound speedster came away with four interceptions. Louis-Jean recently de-committed from Miami, so there’s likely to be a lot on interest surrounding him in the coming months.

DB - Joe Colton, Sr., Xaverian
Colton consistently drew the matchup of the opposing team’s top receiver and went toe-to-toe with some of the state’s best. The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder was also a steady contributor to the Hawks offense with 15 touchdowns on the season.
DB - Manny Asprilla, Sr., Everett
Asprilla was as much of a lockdown defender as he was a threat on the offensive side of the ball. And that’s saying something about someone who had 2,787 career all-purpose yards for the Division I Eastern Mass Super Bowl champions. Asprilla is committed to play football at Boston College next year.
DB - Randall Jette, Sr., Martha’s Vineyard
Jette only pocketed one pick in 2010, but that’s simply because teams didn’t bother throwing his way. The senior captain also made 50 tackles (24 solo) in coverage. Also, as the Vineyarders quarterback, Jette tallied 953 rushing yards on 121 carries with 19 touchdowns to go along with four passing scores and two special teams return touchdowns. He’s being recruited by BC, Bryant, Rutgers, Stonehill, UMass and UNH.

Luke Bakanowsky, Sr. QB, Oakmont
Blaise Branch, Sr. RB, Cardinal Spellman
Gilbert Brown, Sr. RB/LB, Gloucester
Cal Carroll, Sr. QB, Methuen
Trevor Choruzek, Sr. RB, Leicester
Dylan Colarusso, Sr. RB/LB, Weymouth
George Craan, Jr. RB, Concord-Carlisle
Brendan Flaherty, Soph. RB/LB, Beverly
Jeff Hill, Sr. WR, Mansfield
Ray Holloway, Sr. RB, East Longmeadow
Ryan Lipka, Sr. WR, Bishop Fenwick
Sean Mayo, Sr. QB, Holliston
Kyle McSweeney, Sr. OL/DL, Medway
Mike Mercadante, Sr. RB, Minnechaug
Brian Miller, Sr. TE, Andover
Andrew Mizzoni, Sr. OT/DE, Gloucester
Matt Montalto, Jr. QB, Dennis-Yarmouth
Paul Mroz, Sr. QB, Brockton
Thomas Murphy, Sr. QB, Northbridge
Reilly Naton, Jr. SS, Duxbury
Liam Porter, Sr. OL/DL, Natick
Quinton Porter, Jr. ATH, Fitchburg
Cody Savoy, Sr. RB, Narragansett
Matt Silva, Sr. QB, Dracut
Jesse Wilkins, Sr. RB, North Shore

Costello leads charge to latest Everett SB

December, 4, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Every day this fall, when Matt Costello opened his football locker at Everett, staring him in the face was a newspaper clipping that reminded him of last season’s 29-0 Super Bowl loss to Xaverian.

“That was motivation for me all through the year,” said the senior receiver and Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the year. “The first thing we said after the game last year was that, ‘Next year, this isn’t going to happen again.’ ”

It didn’t. Costello reeled in 11 catches for 145 yards and three touchdowns to help the Tide beat St. John’s Prep, 31-7, in the Eastern Mass. Division 1 Super Bowl.

His performance gave him a record 23 touchdown receptions on the season and spearheaded an Everett attack that was just too fast for the Eagles.

The Tide’s spread offense more than doubled St. John’s Prep’s total yardage (422-201), while quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso (16-21, 248 yards) threw three touchdowns and spread the ball to four different receivers. Boston College-bound Manny Asprilla outran defenders for 162 total yards, and DiBiaso broke out of the pocket to rush for 63 yards on 11 carries.

“We knew that [the Eagles] were big and strong,” said Asprilla. “But we knew that speed kills. And we had the speed.”

The Tide also had the most prolific quarterback-receiver tandem in the state, which put on a display under the Gillette Stadium lights. The two have been teammates for years on different sports teams since DiBiaso was 10 years old, and their time together has fostered a chemistry that allowed them to complete passes almost at will.

“We’ve put in the time and the effort to just put in the plays and the routes,” said Costello. “He’s throwing it before I’m breaking so it’s there when it needs to be.”

Defensively, Everett allowed St. John’s Prep past their 20-yard line just once. It happened when the Tyler Coppola ran 49 yards for a touchdown on the Eagles’ first play from scrimmage in the first quarter.

“We obviously wanted to drive down the field more than we did,” Coppola (22 carries, 151 yards) said. “Their defensive backs are fast, their linebackers are fast. It’s hard to block them…They contained us.”

After Coppola’s touchdown, Everett answered — emphatically. The Tide scored on its next five consecutive possessions.

DiBiaso and Costello connected for their first score with 5:35 left in the first quarter to tie the game at seven. After forcing St. John’s Prep into a three-and-out, the Tide ran a 12-play drive, capped by a two-yard Asprilla touchdown run.

Costello scored again on a 10-yard reception with 46 seconds remaining in the second quarter to make it 21-7 at halftime.

“You try to press [Costello], he’s going to run by you,” said St. John’s Prep coach Jim O’Leary. “You back off, they’re going to throw underneath…It was the yards after catch that killed us, he’d catch it and he’s making moves and he looks like he’s going to breaking kids ankles out there.”

Gilly DeSouza kicked a 22-yard field goal with 3:46 left in the third quarter, and it wasn’t long before Everett struck again. They forced a turnover on downs — their second of three in the game — and 40 seconds later, Costello capped his day with a 36-yard touchdown reception.

“We knew they weren’t built to come from behind,” said Everett coach John DiBiaso of the Eagles run-based possession-style offense. “We’re moving, moving, moving. That’s how [we’re] conditioned. That’s just the way we’ve played.”

With Everett’s eighth championship in the Super Bowl era, Costello can now throw away that old newspaper clipping and replace it with a much shinier reminder of the success he shared with his teammates this season: a Super Bowl championship ring.

“I can always just look at that,” Costello said, “and know that that team was my last and it was great.”

Everett – 7 14 3 7 – 31
St. John’s Prep – 7 0 0 0 – 7

First quarter

SJP - Coppola 49 run (Nick Pesaturo kick)
E – DiBiaso 29 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)

Second quarter
E – Asprilla 2 run (DeSouza kick)
E – DiBiaso 10 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)

Third quarter
E – DeSouza 22-yard kick

Fourth quarter
E – DiBiaso 36 pass to Costello (DeSouza kick)

Matt Stout contributed to this report.

Super Saturday breakdown and picks

December, 3, 2010

Yesterday, coaches and captains from each of the teams participating in the six Eastern Mass Super Bowls played at Gillette Stadium toured the field in anticipation of Saturday's games. We caught up with Bridgewater-Raynham quarterback Billy Zolga and Everett wide receiver and defensive back Matt Costello yesterday.

Both players were at Gillette last year when their respective teams lost their Super Bowl bids. Now, the seniors are looking to leave a lasting imprint in their final high school football games.

This is for all the marbles, so let's get straight into the action:

Everett (11-0) vs. St. John's Prep (8-4), 6 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Everett players to watch:
ATH Manny Asprilla, WR Matt Costello, QB Jonathan DiBiaso, RB/LB Vondell Langston, LB Buck McCarthy, WR/DB Kenny Calaj, OL/DL Nick Chiarello, DL Shaquille Taylor.
St. John's Prep players to watch: RB Tyler Coppola, OL/DL Nathan Cyr, TE Ryan Delisle, TE/ROV Lucas Bavaro, OL/DL Dan Culkeen.
The skinny: In his third year under center, DiBiaso has exploded to lead one of the state's most prolific offenses (37.5 points per game), and re-write the record book (he threw his state-record 40th touchdown pass of the season in Tuesday's 21-0 win over Andover). But you best believe he is thanking his lucky stars for the exploits of Costello (20 touchdowns) and Asprilla. The Boston College-bound Asprilla, who lines up at both tailback and wide receiver, is one of the state's most dangerous threats in the short passing game, and known to rip off huge gains out of underneath routes. Prep, meanwhile, has rode a powerful ground game (what's new?) to victory, led by Coppola, who has nearly 450 yards on the ground in the last two games. The Eagles are anchored by a powerful line led by Cyr and Culkeen, while Bavaro has emerged as an intimidating presence over the middle on defense.
X-factor: The matchup of the Trinity-boud Cyr, one of the state's best o-linemen, versus Taylor, one of the state's best d-linemen, will be one of the most intriguing battles of the day. Both are built low to the ground, with an explosive first step, and you've got to wonder if one key block will spring either team to victory.

Barboza: A Prep win would be the fitting culmination to an emotional ride, but this has been the Crimson Tide's year. Everett, 27-21

Hall: This has been a remarkable run for the Prep, after all the program has been through these last two seasons, and they're winners in my book either way. I'm going with one of the unsung guys, Gilly DeSouza, to win it late with his feet for the Crimson Tide. Everett, 24-21.

Bridgewater-Raynham (10-2) vs. Gloucester (12-0), 8 p.m. at Gillette Stadium

B-R players to watch: QB/QB Billy Zolga, RB/LB Nick Schlatz, OL/DL Mike Devin, RB/LB Mike Chicoine, RB Brandon Morin.
Gloucester players to watch: TE/DE Chris Unis; RB/LB Gilbert Brown; FB/LB Jordan Shairs; OT/DE Andrew Mizzoni; C/NT Anthony Latassa.
The skinny: Do you like running the football? This game is for you. The Trojans and Fishermen do it better than just about anybody and certainly have the book on each other after facing off in last year’s Super Bowl. You’d be hard pressed to find a more consistent pair of backs than Gilbert Brown and Jordan Shairs of Gloucester. The Trojans ran behind Brandon Morin to a win over Weymouth in the semifinals after starting in place of injured tailback Nick Schlatz. It would give B-R a lift if Schlatz can recover from a shoulder injury sustained in a Thanksgiving Day win over Brockton
X-factor: Really it just comes down to which team blocks its assignments better. It’s simple as that.

Barboza: This might be the most difficult game to forecast, but I’m giving the edge to Gloucester’s experience. Gloucester, 16-14.

Hall: This might be the best matchup of the day. Power versus power, strength versus strength. Gloucester has more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball, but I like the way this B-R team has been running the ball this last month. Against Dan Buron’s wishes, of course, I’m picking the Trojans to avenge 2009 and put an end to the Fish's 25-game win streak. B-R, 17-14.

Mansfield (11-1) vs. Reading (12-0), 3:30 p.m., Gillette Stadium
Mansfield players to watch:
RB Jamel Marshall, QB George Busharis, WR Blayne Taylor, OL/DL Sean Otto, OL/DL Kyle McGuire, OL/DL Anthony Todesco, WR Jeff Hill.
Reading players to watch: QB/DB Brian Bourque, OL/DL Jeff Covitz, OL/DL Anthony Fodera, RB Larry Gilligan, RB Zack Bates, WR Sean Gildea, WR Connor Sheehan.
The skinny: The defending Division 2 Super Bowl champ Rockets come into Saturday on a 25-game win streak, albeit by a thread after some late heroics from Bourque and Covitz allowed them to escape their home turf with a 15-14 thriller over Dracut. With Bourque spearheading a shotgun-oriented rushing attack, the Rockets have amassed 42 rushing touchdowns going into Saturday. The Hornets, meanwhile, are back at Gillette for the second time in three years thanks to a stalwart defense led by McGuire at defensive tackle, and the workhorse carrying load of Marshall. This Mansfield squad, known for its Wing-T, isn't afraid to pass the ball more than in years past, with the arm of Busharis. Taylor and Hill, the latter of whom caught three touchdowns in Tuesday's 28-0 shutout of Walpole, have emerged as downfield threats the last few weeks.
X-factor: Covitz, with his above-average leg strength and low center of gravity, has been the most irreplaceable guy on the offensive line, and is generally been a nuisance for opposing offensive linemen coming off the edge. With that in mind, picking up the blitz will be crucial for the Hornets.

Barboza: When it's on the line, Marshall is just too explosive. Mansfield, 17-14.

Hall: Stan Andre, the one who kicked off this whole win streak, was in the house Tuesday night to take in the Reading game. I'm sure he said something to them in the ecstatic locker room after the game, and I'm sure it's going to count late in the fourth quarter. Reading, 28-27.

Duxbury (12-0) vs. Concord-Carlisle (10-2), 1:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium
Duxbury players to watch:
QB Matt O’Keefe, DB/QB Kane Haffey, OL/DL Brett Harasimowicz, TE/DE Don Webber, RB/DB Reilly Naton.
Concord-Carlisle players to watch: RB George Craan; QB Peter George; RB/LB Jabrail Coy; LB Evan Boynton.
The skinny: These are two very stingy defenses with the Green Dragons allowing just 10.8 points per game and the Patriots have surrendered a shade under 13 points per game. Make no mistake, these teams can also move the ball. Duxbury thrives with its complement of Kane Haffey and Matt O’Keefe at quarterback. Concord-Carlisle can always depend on George Craan and his 1,600-plus yards out of the backfield.
X-factor: The Patriots and their fans know what to expect out of Craan, but if sophomore Tim Badgley can repeat his five-carry, 109-yard performance from their semifinal against North Andover, C-C’s chances for victory would greatly improve.

Barboza: One last time, I’ll pull this one out. The “Double Dragons” of O’Keefe and Haffey will lead them to victory. Duxbury, 21-20

Hall: Yes, that’s right, I called Duxbury’s defense “Duxbury Swag District” yesterday on our podcast. I am tragically lame, and slightly out of control. Duxbury, 24-10

Beverly (6-6) vs. Somerset (12-0), 11 a.m. at Gillette Stadium
Somerset players to watch:
RB/LB Seth DeMello; RB/DB Jaron Spear; OT/DT Ian Levesque; RB/LB Alex Estrella; QB Adam Ledoux.
Beverly players to watch: RB/DB Brendan Flaherty, QB/DB Joe Wioncek, OL/DL George Kallas, RB/DB Nick Theriault, LB Mark Giles, OL/DL Andrew Cannata.
The skinny: Somerset’s 28-0 win over Dighton-Rehoboth in the semifinals was a prototypical Blue Raiders game. Both Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear finished with over 100 yards rushing as Somerset bled the clock dry in the second half. Meanwhile, Beverly – the official Cinderella squad of the 2010 playoffs — showed that they truly belonged with a 41-14 thrashing of Scituate. Will the Blue Raiders prevail and finish a perfect season? Or can the Panthers keep the magic alive? It’s the quintessential favorite vs. underdog.
X-factor: The teams’ lines. For Division 3 schools, both of these squads have good sized linemen. Six-foot-five, 315-pound lineman Ian Levesque is a mountain on the Blue Raider line, but is agile as well. George Kallas is an immovable object on the Panther line.

Barboza: Not only is the double wing difficult for any team to run, but the Blue Raiders have all the right elements to run it to its best. Somerset, 28-14

Hall: Clock strikes midnight on Beverly, as two wings are better than one. Somerset, 21-10

Holliston (11-1) vs. Cardinal Spellman (12-0), 9 a.m., Gillette Stadium
Holliston players to watch:
RB/LB Kevin Curry, QB Sean Mayo, TE/DE Ryan Barrett, RB/DB Jake Frechette, WR/DB Christian Baker, OL/LB Ethan Rayner, OL/DL Kevin Lamarcque.
Spellman players to watch: RB/DB Blaise Branch, FB/LB Jared Lordi, RB/DB Jordan Williams, QB Zac Cooney.
The skinny: The 11-1 Panthers come into Saturday averaging just a hair under 40 points a game, with Mayo as the triggerman. Even in limited playing time -- the Panthers often pulled their starters in the third or fourth quarter -- the dual-threat quarterback put up 1,723 yards through the air, with 21 touchdown passes to only five interceptions, and also added 456 yards and nine scores on the ground. Spellman, in its third year under Ron St. George, had a remarkable turnaround, going from 2-9 to undefeated and in its first Super Bowl since 1992. At the forefront of St. George's vaunted Wing-T scheme is the senior Branch, who leads Eastern Mass with 36 rushing touchdowns. But over the last few games, defenses have had to worry more and more about Lordi and Williams.
X-factor: The Bryant-bound Barrett, at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, was a matchup problem all year long in the Tri-Valley League. And while he's not putting up the most gaudy numbers at tight end and was used more as a blocking back, his combination of size, speed and athleticism demands airtight coverage from the linebackers and helps open up the Panthers' offense.

Barboza: Panthers' rallying cry: 'We Don't Get Fooled Again". Holliston, 31-24

Hall: The Panthers came to Gillette last December and got manhandled. Guarantee you that's been fresh on their minds this week, and for that I think they avoid the same early mistakes that doomed them in 2009. Holliston, 25-20

Shawsheen (10-1) vs. Blue Hills (10-1), 10 a.m., Curry College
Shawsheen players to watch: OL/DL David Summiel, QB Ryan Woolaver, RB Andrew Dascoli, WR Rob Greenwood.
Blue Hills players to watch: RB Vincent Burton, RB Isaiah Teixeira, OL/DL Jamarr Goff, QB John Curran
The skinny: Shawsheen, on the heels of a 21-0 shutout of Madison Park in Tuesday night’s playoffs, is on a roll defensively. The Rams haven’t allowed a point in 19 quarters, dating back to a 41-6 win over Lynn Tech on October 15. Dascoli is the Rams’ workhorse back, while Greeenwood is their top threat at receiver. The Warriors, rested from a bye on Tuesday night, are led by Vincent Burton and his Division 4-best 30 touchdowns.
X-factor: The 6-foot-5, 310-pound Summiel might be the biggest catalyst for this incredible Shawsheen run. Playing right offensive tackle and left defensive end, Summiel paved the way for 118 rushing yards from leading rusher Dascoli, and also preserved a fourth straight shutout.

Barboza: The week off will certainly benefit Blue Hills, but the Rams defense is stout. Shawsheen, 14-7

Hall: Logic says to go with Blue Hills, as they’ll be well-rested thanks to their bye. But this Shawsheen defense is an absolute wagon by Division 4 standards, and for that I’m giving them another shutout to finish off what’s been a remarkable run over the last six weeks. Shawsheen, 21-0

Brighton (9-2) vs. Northeast (10-2), 1 p.m. at Curry College

Brighton players to watch: RB/LB Andrew Maestre, RB Dwight Kennedy, QB Jonathan Marrero, OL/DL Patrick Jean, WR Olumide Olukoga.
Northeast players to watch: RB/DB Bobby Novello; RB/DB Mike Cross; OL/DE Ryan Adams; FB/DE Ian Bagby; TE/LB A.J. Ortiz.
The skinny: You'd be hard pressed to find a hotter defense in the state than the Golden Knights, who have now pitched six shutouts after a 42-0 blanking of Pope John Tuesday. Their next challenge lies in the Bengals. A Division 4-A Super Bowl participant last year, Brighton’s offense is led by running back Andrew Maestre and quarterback Jonathan Marrerro, each of whom ran for two touchdowns in their 36-13 win over West Bridgewater on Tuesday.
X-factor: Brighton wide receiver Olumide Olukoga is the favorite target of Marrerro, but he’s also dangerous in the return game. Olukoga had a 41-yard kickoff return to set up Maestre’s first touchdown of the game. At this stage, with two talented teams, special teams play always comes to bear.

Barboza: Can’t pick against the Northeast defense, but the Bengals will put some points on the board. Northeast, 23-17

Hall: I used to live in Brighton Centre, and my neighbors were awesome. Go grab a bite at Smoken’ Joe’s when you get a chance, and make sure you get the Kansas City Sticky. Brighton, 21-17.

Stage is set for Gillette Stadium

December, 2, 2010
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- It is every teenager's dream to one day put on the shoulder pads and helmet and play in a Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium with everyone watching. On Saturday, that dream will be realized for players on twelve high school football teams, as the Division 1-3A MIAA Eastern Mass Super Bowls return to Foxborough.

“It is amazing,” Concord-Carlisle running back Jibrail Coy said, standing in the shadows of the stadium of the New England Patriots. “It feels good that we get to be on this field and we have an opportunity to play at Gillette.”

The MIAA invited the Super Bowl teams’ coaches and captains to Gillette Stadium for a breakfast on Thursday, and for some players it broke the ice of being on an NFL stadium’s turf for the first time.

“It’s breath-taking,” Beverly quarterback Joe Wioncek remarked. “Being here today helps take away the feeling a little bit, but it’s amazing.”

The Eastern Mass Super Bowls have been played at Gillette Stadium since 2007, and every year has provided a notable experience. In 2009, a snow storm clobbered Foxborough –- creating obstacles for the players, particularly in the night cap between Gloucester and Bridgewater-Raynham –- but the weather also gave the athletes a chance to get as close as they would ever come to feeling what it is like to be Tom Brady and company in December.

“It’s obviously the way you want to go out,” Duxbury quarterback Kane Haffey said about the opportunity. “I mean, I’m standing on the 50-yard line, where Tom Brady plays every Sunday.”

While some players gawked and took pictures or videos of the surroundings, others tried to remain stone-faced and stoic in front of their peers.

“The venue doesn’t matter,” St. John’s Prep senior Ryan Delisle said about Saturday. “It’s the game that counts.”

That somber attitude in the face of the excitement of the Super Bowl may come from the path that each team took to get to the Super Bowl.

Some teams have taken the hard road to get to this point, while others have skated in, coasting past playoff opponents. For instance, St. John’s Prep overcame an up-and-down year and snuck into the playoffs by virtue of a Thanksgiving Day win against defending Division 1 Eastern Mass Champion Xaverian. St. John’s then advanced after a 35-7 win over New Bedford, and will face Division 1 powerhouse Everett on Saturday.

“We have to give the credit to our young defense,” Delisle said about St. John’s season. “They started off the year as rookies with no experience. As the year has progressed they’ve gotten so much better, it is just incredible.”

On a similar note, Beverly lost its first five games of the season and was considered done by most teams in Division 3. Yet the Panthers rallied together, won all of their Northeastern Small Conference opponents, and dominated Scituate in the Division 3 semifinals to advance. Beverly’s opponent on Saturday is Somerset, who is coming off an equally impressive win, after shutting out Dighton-Rehoboth 28-0.

But it seems that there is no defined path to Gillette Stadium.

It is true that each team had to earn every victory, but teams like Everett and Gloucester (playing in the Division 1 and 1A Super Bowls, respectively) have a long tradition of playing on Super Bowl Saturday.

Longtime Everett head coach John Dibiaso has gathered seven Super Bowl rings in his tenure at the helm of the Crimson Tide, and this year has a talented group of seniors led by wide receivers Matt Costello and Manny Asprilla. Although the Crimson Tide lost to Xaverian in the Super Bowl last year, this year’s class is trying to redeem themselves against St. John’s on Saturday.

In the Division 1A semifinals, undefeated Gloucester traveled to Lincoln-Sudbury and shut out the Warriors 21-0. On Saturday, the Fishermen will face Bridgewater-Raynham for the second year in a row – last year winning the matchup 33-13. Bridgewater-Raynham serves as the underdog in that game, but could play spoiler after a 34-22 win over Weymouth on Tuesday.

And the theme of teams returning to Gillette doesn’t stop in Division 1. In Division 3A, Holliston, led by senior quarterback Sean Mayo – advanced out of the Tri-Valley League after a 35-20 victory over Rockland and is hoping to win its second-straight 3A Super Bowl. However standing in their way is undefeated Cardinal-Spellman powered by running back Blaise Branch.

In Division 2, Mansfield’s offensive weapons Jamel Marshall and George Busharis look to take down Reading. Mansfield is coming off of a 28-0 win over Walpole (, while Reading boasts linemen Jeff Covitz and a stout defense. In the Division 2 semis, Covitz had two sacks on elusive Dracut quarterback Matt Silva to secure a Super Bowl berth.

Although these games are the climax of most of these players’ athletic careers, it also makes for a bittersweet end. Yes, they will be playing in Gillette Stadium on the state’s biggest high school stage, but it marks the end of their playing career.

For the seniors there will be no more Friday night lights. Instead, in their place will be the fond memories of the glory days, that pinnacled at Gillette Stadium.

“We’re going to be a little bit nervous,” Concord-Carlisle’s Ryan Ruiz said. “But we’re going to take everything under control and do what we’ve been doing all year.”

“There will be a lot of emotions out there on the field,” Beverly’s Wioncek said about playing his last game. “We’re going to just go out there and try to make them the most positive as possible.”

Sloppy playoff win, but Everett will take it

December, 1, 2010
LYNN, Mass. -- Playing for the Everett Crimson Tide, it is not a big deal to win a game, nor is it a big deal to win the Greater Boston League Title, nor to win a playoff game.

No, if you play for the Everett Crimson Tide, and are the DiBiaso camp, your expectations are to be nothing but Super Bowl victors. To celebrate anything less, would be ungentlemanly.

“We’re not celebrating, we haven’t reached our goal yet,” said Everett head coach John DiBiaso coolly after his team’s 21-0 win over Andover tonight, which saw his son Jonathan break the state single-season passing touchdown record, with his 40th. “The goal for the year… has always been to win the championship.”

Coach DiBiaso wasn’t even happy. Turnovers, unsportsmanlike penalties, illegal motion penalties, and sustained drives by Andover filled the postgame speech. No mumbling from the players though, only solemn nods of agreement.

“We need to work harder on offense,” said Manny Asprilla, who racked up 42 yards and one touchdown on the day, as well as a fumble recovery in the red zone and seven tackles. “And we need to tighten up on defense."

Everett (11-0) only scored once in the first half, and Andover (8-4) -- having controlled the ball for 9:33 out of the ten minutes in the first quarter -- showed that they could move the ball on Everett effectively, despite being stopped on the Everett 6 after marching 66 yards. Just before the half, Andover’s Tyler Boudrow intercepted a DiBiaso pass and ran it back past the 50, giving the Golden Warriors momentum going into the second half.

The Golden Warriors forced Everett into its only three-and-out on the day on the opening drive of the second half. Andover got the ball at their own 45 after the punt and return, looking to go in for a score. On the first play of drive, quarterback Tom Dempsey ran left for nine yards across the 50 to the 46. On the next play, Dempsey attempted to hand the ball off to Freddie Scribner, but somewhere between the two, Shaquille Taylor made a hit and the ball came loose, and falling on it was Everett junior Paul Marckini, who saw another player jump on it but came up with the ball.

“Somehow, it ended up under me,” said Marckini. Marckini did not start at the beginning of the season, but has earned a starting spot on the team, as he and other players say, due to his dedication to lifting and working hard in practice.

“Sometimes it’s hurtful,” said Taylor, of making it into the backfield past lineman who will do just about anything to stop a defender. “But I like to pride myself on taking the pain. We’ve got a lot of guys who play hard and play tough. That’s what I love.”

Getting the ball on their 47, Everett then weaved together an 11-play drive, despite two off sides penalties, capped off by a pair of runs by Manny Asprilla. The first was an eight yard run to the left, on which Asprilla drove his body forward with his legs, but came up two yards short of the score, setting up first and goal. On first and goal, Asprilla took the handoff and busted up the middle, meeting tacklers at the line of scrimmage but forcing his detractors back with his will, moving the pile past the plane to put Everett up 13-0. The Gilly DeSouza kick made the game 14-0.

Taking over from their own seven, Andover refused to stand by and wait for a chance to break a play, as they made a quick move that caught Everett off guard. A quick pass from Dempsey to Ned Deane on the left sideline netted Andover 41 yards on its first play of the drive. Three plays and one off sides penalty later, the Warriors were faced with a first and 15 from the Everett 35, driving towards the end zone.

Andover’s Freddie Scribner made it down to about the 15 before losing control of the ball in a collision, and Asprilla, always alert and looking for play, fell on it and cradled the ball like it was his first-born son, with the potential to put the game out of reach for the Golden Retrievers.

“I saw Ronnie [Richard] hit him so hard that the ball came out,” said Asprilla, "I knew I had to jump tight on it."

DiBiaso, knowing that two scores would not be enough for the win, took on double duties for the drive, running for 41 yards and passing for 45 yards, including the 12-yard corner of the end zone hookup between him and Costello for the insurance score.

“We’ve got one more game left,” added coach DiBiaso, of Everett’s match against St. John’s Prep for the Division I title on Saturday, December 4th.


AND 0 0 0 0 0
EVE 0 7 14 0 21

2nd Qtr.
E - Matt Costello 15 pass from John DiBiaso (Gilly DeSouza kick)

3rd Qtr
E - Manny Asprilla 2 run (DeSouza kick)
E - Costello 12 pass from DiBiaso (DeSouza kick)

No. 1 Everett survives scare from BC High

October, 23, 2010
DORCHESTER, Mass. -- During practice this week, Everett head coach John DiBiaso warned his players that Ohio State was ranked No. 1 and lost the week after. No. 10 BC High did their best Wisconsin impersonation, coming close to knocking of the Kings of the Bay State, but No. 1 Everett pulled out a nail-biting 37-27 win Friday night.

Needless to say, DiBiaso’s postgame speech was not congratulatory.

“The intesity wasn’t there in practice this week,” DiBiaso said. “But I’m talking to kids. Some of the stuff registers, some of it doesn’t.

“I thought we played well enough to win, but we made many, too many mistakes, and they’re a good team and we let them back into the game.”

The Eagles, after being down 23-8 at the half, didn’t look good coming out of the locker room. BC High (3-3) got the ball to open the second half, but after one pass, Everett’s Vondell Langston took a fumble 60 yards into the end zone, and the Gilly DeSouza kick made the game 30-8. Then the Eagles woke up, scoring 19 unanswered points.

“We challenged our kids at halftime,” BC High head coach Jon Bartlett said. “We knew had to up our play.”

On the following drive, after two incomplete passes, on third and 10 from their own 36, Eagles wide receiver Gordon McLeod caught a pass from Bartley Regan and took it 74 yards for a score. Running up the right sideline and dodging a last-ditch defender who dove at his feet less than a minute after, McLeod put the Eagles back on the board.

Everett ran four plays on the ensuing drive, one for a first down, so the Eagles got the ball again with eight minutes to go in the third. Less than three minutes later, the Eagles scored again, this time on a 13-yard run by Preston Cooper, making the game 30-21.

On the next series, BC High’s junior defensive end Adam Richard sacked Jonathan DiBiaso (235 passing yards, four total touchdowns) for a 7-yard loss, after he had ducked the first Eagle rusher. Giving the ball up on downs, the Crimson Tide (6-0) began to look helpless, as Cooper took the second play of the following drive 71 yards, dove for the end zone but ended up three yards out. Luke Catarius cleaned up the spill, walking into the end zone and making it a three-point game at 30-27.

Everett made it down to the Eagles’ 14, but passed up the chance for a 34-yard field goal and went for the score. A sack by Catarius gave the Eagles the ball back and the momentum, down one score and having stopped the Crimson Tide after a 57-yard drive. The Eagles could not capitalize on the opportunity though, as Everett forced them into a three-and-out, then holding onto the ball for the next five minutes, cementing their three-point lead with an extra effort run through two defenders at the goal line by DiBiaso for the final score.

“We didn’t play so good, so there’s really nothing much to say,” Everett’s Manny Asprilla said. “We’re going to running a lot this week in practice. A lot.”

Everett 0 23 7 7 -- 37
BC High 0 8 19 0 -- 27

B – Preston Cooper 2 run (Jameson McShea pass from Brendan Craven)
E – Matt Costello 6 pass from Jonathan DiBiaso (Ralph Jonathas pass from DiBiaso)
E – Costello 13 pass from DiBiaso (Gilly DeSouza kick)
E – Manny Asprilla 43 pass from DiBiaso (Chris McCarthy rush)
E – Vondell Langston 60 fumble recovery (DeSouza kick)
B – Gordon McLeod 74 pass from Bartley Regan (Gavin McDermott kick)
B – Cooper 13 run (kick failed)
B – Luke Catarius 3 run (pass failed)
E – DiBiaso 3 run (DeSouza kick)

What We Learned: Week 6

October, 18, 2010

So another new No. 1? Yep, we think so.

Here's What We Learned this weekend:

Everett running back/linebacker Vondell Langston, like the rest of his charismatic teammates, couldn't help but get a little giddy after the Tide's jaw-dropping fourth-quarter shutdown of the state's No. 1 team, Xaverian. So when asked about the message written across each strip of eye-blackener on his cheeks -- "NITE" was written across each one, so that it read "NITE NITE" going across -- the 6-foot, 200-pound junior was happy to explain.

"This was to put all the hype away, that we ain't even listening to it," he said.

But after a drubbing as impressive as this one -- the Tide held the Hawks' vaunted rushing attack to just 83 yards total -- Everett is undoubtedly the hype. And they'll get their first big test as No. 1 this Friday night when they travel to Viola Stadium to take on the Eagles of Boston College High, themselves coming off a 49-0 smattering of New Jersey power Hudson Catholic.

Not only did the Tide show deceivingly consistent balance between the run and pass, with Langston and quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso showing poise at both aspects of the game, but they're continuing to prove over and over just how tough it is to slow them through the air. Bottle up the lightning-quick, Boston College-bound Manny Asprilla, and deep ball threat Matt Costello will go off for career numbers, carving precise sideline routes. Bottle up Costello, as Joe Colton did exceptionally in Saturday's contest, and Asprilla will torch you.

Asprilla had a hand in all of the 22 fourth-quarter points by the Tide, first making a leaping catch over the middle to set up Langston's go-ahead plunge; then hauling in a 22-yard touchdown slant on fourth and 10; and finally returning an interception Ed Reed-style, 48 yards to paydirt with a bevy of shimmy and shake.

"It seems like, from week to week, teams have been following whoever had the big week last week," Costello said. "If Manny [Asprilla] has a big game, they’re spotting him, or whoever it is. And we have so many players who can catch the ball and make plays that somebody’s going to get open."

Added head coach John DiBiaso on having so many targets, including Kenny Kalaj and Jakarrie Washington, "It makes a big difference. I have a lot of confidence to throw to Manny, Matt, any of our receivers. You look at the defense, see what they’re giving you and then you try to take what they’re giving you."

DiBiaso later joked to the group of reporters that he can't wait for the new rankings to come out Monday morning and find somebody else at No. 1.

"I like us better when we have a chip on our shoulder," DiBiaso laughed.

And just for high school editor Brendan Hall was the only Boston writer to pick Everett to win the game. According to, which tracks all of the Boston writers' weekly picks, Hall was 27 for 28 on week six picks, good enough to blow away the rest of the field with a 96 percent clip.

And while we're at it, Scott Barboza also picked the field with a solid B-plus [89 percent, but didn't pick Everett (Wah, wah, wah)] while picking 28 contests, which again begs the question: When is everybody else going to step up their game?

"There’s two ways to play our team," Lawrence Academy head coach Mike Taylor told ESPNBoston correspondent Corey Allen following the Spartans' 20-7 win over Governor's Academy. "Either you lay down and die, or fight. These guys did a heck of a job fighting."

Right now, several schools are willing to tango with the four-headed monster from Groton. Had Dan Giovacchini not stopped Elijah Morrissey on fourth down late in the game, we might be talking a whole other story. The Mark Gerry-coached Governors dressed just 27 players against the 4-0 Spartans, who have four players committed to BCS schools and a line that averages nearly 300 pounds across, and came away with a moral victory that should give them momentum the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, BB&N showed no glaring signs of weakness in its 40-20 win over Milton Academy. With elite quarterback Charlie Story out for the Mustangs, BB&N found itself defending some trickeration (see: Wildcat) to start the game. But once things settled down, junior running back/linebacker Chris Coady (23 carries, 241 yards, three touchdowns) showed why he is quickly becoming one of the state's most sought-after 2012 recruits.

Coady, a re-classified junior who visited Duke this past weekend, currently holds lacrosse scholarships from Syracuse, Brown and Harvard (he was a defenseman on St. John's Prep's Division 1 state champion squad last spring). And that lacrosse agility has translated well on the gridiron for the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder.

"He's unbelievable. The kid's a tremendous football player," head coach John Papas told ESPNBoston's Brendan Hall. "To make this transition on both sides of the ball, from quarterback and free safety to running back and linebacker, he's truly been amazing. You saw him, I mean he's strong as a horse, and he's getting better every week. That's the scary part about it."

Meanwhile, Rivers is off to one of the best starts in school history thanks to its tandem of Roxbury cousins and Division 1 prospects Ben Patrick and Taariq Allen. Patrick, who has interest from a number of FCS schools, has nine touchdowns and 837 rushing yards on 86 carries through the first four games. Meanwhile his cousin -- who de-committed from UConn last month and still holds offers from Wisconsin and Nebraska -- has been a threat through the air (23 catches, 332 yards) and ground (24 carries, 233 yards). A win this Saturday against Milton Academy would clinch the first winning football season since 1982.

It should also be noted that St. George's -- the team which caused quite a stir two weeks ago when it decided to forfeit rather than play Lawrence -- notched its first win of the season last Saturday, a 20-8 decision over reportedly-smaller St. Mark's.

The last time the two-time defending Division 2 Super Bowl champs lost to an opponent, period, was Sept. 19, 2008, to Winthrop. The last time they lost within the Central Mass region? You have to go back to November of 2007, when the Rockets dropped a close one to David Prouty, 14-7, a week after getting smoked 42-7 by rival Northbridge.

Jeremy Lavallee (513 rushing yards) has been the stalwart of the Rockets' offense, while Worcester South transfer Atta Oweso carried last weekend's 26-0 shutout of Quabbin with two scores himself. Meanwhile, the defense is allowing just 6.3 points per game, including impressive decisions over Shrewsbury (6-2) and Northbridge (21-7).

Any talk about the Rockets on track to matching Acton-Boxborough's state record of 52 games has to be silly at this point -- it would still take a full two seasons to get within distance. But with just one team with a winning record left on its regular season slate (Thanksgiving, versus Oxford), an undefeated three-peat certainly isn't out of the question.

What a buzzsaw the top of the South Shore League has turned out to be.

None who were in attendance will soon forget Rockland’s hard-fought 9-8 win over Cohasset on Friday. But what is the Bulldogs’ reward for knocking off the reigning co-league champions? A matchup with another of the South Shore’s unbeatens, Abington.

“We feel good about this one, we can celebrate a little,” Bulldogs fullback Mike Driscoll told Scott Barboza Friday night. “But we’re going to put this one behind us pretty quick and it’s all about Abington on Monday.”

The Green Wave is also 6-0 overall with a 3-0 South Shore record and is coming off an impressive 22-6 win over another quality league foe, Mashpee.

“We’re just going one week at a time,” Driscoll added. “We can’t look past anybody.”

Somerset head coach Nick Freitas let out a sigh and said, “It always feels good after a win.”

Talking via telephone Monday morning, there was a feeling Freitas might have had his feet up on the desk while saying so.

That’s because his Raiders have made it look easy at 6-0. Their average margin of victory has been about 22 points per game, led by the dynamic running duo of Seth DeMello and Jaron Spear.

On Friday night, the midpoint Eastern Athletic Conference championship game took place on Martha’s Vineyard with a battle of unbeatens. Somerset left the island leaving no question who is the best team in EAC, after a 40-0 blanking of the Vineyarders. Quarterback Adam Ledoux and DeMello each registered three rushing touchdowns. DeMello, the bruising running back, finished with 24 carries for 228 yards in addition to 42 receiving yards.

Barring any hiccups in their remaining league games at Coyle-Cassidy (Nov. 5) and versus Bishop Feehan (Nov. 12), the Raiders should be playing beyond Thanksgiving.


It’s easy to overhype Somerset’s win 40-0 win over Martha’s Vineyard as the be-all, end-all in the Eastern Athletic Conference this season. However, you cannot undersell DeMello’s performance against the Vineyarders. The hard-nosed runner registered 24 carries for 228 yards and three touchdowns. DeMello also created balance in the Raiders’ attack with 42 receiving yards.

Manny Asprilla, Sr. WR/CB, Everett – What didn’t the BC-bound speedster do? Asprilla’s five catches for 80 yards and one touchdown don’t tell the true story of what he contributed to Everett’s win over Xaverian. His 47-yard interception return for a touchdown was an athletic display.

Chris Coady, Jr. RB/LB , BB&N – Coady put in another impressive performance with 241 rushing yards on 23 carries with three touchdowns in a 40-20 win over Milton Academy. He also registered seven tackles on defense.

Mike Driscoll, Sr. FB, Rockland – Driscoll’s touchdown and 117 tough-gained yards were the driving force behind the Bulldogs’ win over Cohasset.

Kemani Jones, Sr. RB, Milton — Jones ran roughshod over Dedham, led by his 325 yards on 16 carries with touchdown runs of 24, 17 and 82 yards, respectively.

Mike Mercadante, Sr. RB, Minnechaug -- The 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior had a career night for the Falcons last Friday's 50-38 shootout win over Holyoke. He carried the ball 26 times for 256 yards and six touchdowns, and caught three passes for 32 yards and a seventh touchdown.

Paul McCarthy, Sr. QB, North Attleborough - It was a highly efficient performance for Big Red’s signal-caller, going 7 of 8 for 173 passing yards and four touchdowns in a win over Canton. McCarthy also had a rushing touchdown of 55 yards.

Trae Musumarra, Sr. RB/LB, Central Catholic – Musumarra took over in a 40-32 win over Lowell, running for 162 yards and six touchdowns, three of which came in the first quarter.

Ben Patrick, Sr. RB, Rivers - Patrick continued to tear things up with 25 carries for 227 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Brooks. Through four games, Patrick has 837 rushing yards and is averaging 9.7 yards a carry, while Allen has accumulated 565 yards of offense through the ground and air.

Richard Rodgers, Sr. WR/DE, St. John’s (Shrewsbury) – Maybe someday we’ll them the “Richard Rodgers Player of the Week Awards”. Sound good? Thought so. Another 7-catch, 92-yard performance and chipped in two sacks against St. John’s Prep.

Zach Zaniboni, Jr. RB, Plymouth North – Eighty one rushing yards don’t exactly jump off the page, but consider that Zaniboni did so on just six carries while breaking off a 50-yard touchdown that was all the Eagles would need in a 15-0 league win over Marshfield. That should pretty much do it.

Fourth quarter belongs to Asprilla

October, 16, 2010

WESTWOOD, Mass. -- It all started with a leap -- a giant one, at that.

Facing first and 10 from the Xaverian 31, trailing 7-6 at the Hawk Bowl with just over 10 minutes left in regulation, Everett's Manny Asprilla darted down the left hash marks, cut across the middle on a post route, and leaped high past two defenders to come down with the jump ball.

"When I jumped in the air, I wasn't thinking about getting laid out, I just wanted to take one for the team," Asprilla said.

Vondell Langston gave the Crimson Tide the go-ahead score two plays later, a plunge from four yards out, and Asprilla made another eye-opening grab on the point-after, slipping just inbounds at the left sideline on to complete Jonathan DiBiaso's pass attempt and make it 14-7.

A fumble on the ensuing kickoff, recovered by Everett's Ronnie Richard, gave the Tide starting position at the Hawks' 27, and it didn't take long for the Boston College-bound Asprilla to show off his stuff again. On fourth and 10 from the 17, DiBiaso went over the middle again to Asprilla, and he shed an arm tackle as he dove over the goal line. A few plays later, Asprilla slammed things shut with an Ed Reed-style pick-six, bobbing and weaving in and out of blocks 48 yards to paydirt.

"That drive was the biggest drive of the season," head coach John DiBiaso said of Langston's score. "We responded, we scored, then we get the turnover, the fumble, we punched it in again, and now all of a sudden they're two touchdowns down and they've got to come from behind. Their gameplan was not designed to come from behind, it was the grind it out."

In just over three minutes, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior sent the crowd from a frenzy to heading for the exits. And with it, the speedster proved once again what five other teams had previously discovered -- once the wagon gets momentum, even the state's best teams will struggle to slow the game back to a crawl. Whatever critiques one may have had with this deceivingly-balanced Tide squad came to a screeching halt in a relatively short amount of time.

"Fourth quarter is everything," Asprilla said. "Anything can happen in the fourth quarter. So when we came out, we definitely wanted to put points on the board and shut things down on their offense."

Asprilla (five catches, 80 yards) typically gets his touches in the short to medium passing game and motion out of the backfield, but with deep ball threat Matt Costello (three catches, 67 yards) bottled up nicely by Joe Colton and the Hawks showing cover four, the Tide pushed the seams. With an arsenal of targets split wide -- including Asprilla, Costello, Kenny Calaj and Jakarrie Washington -- Xaverian head coach Charlie Stevenson's game plan called for the defense to line up in quarters.

In essence, that left the Hawks defense playing man-to-man, with a safety and linebacker shading over the top, and John DiBiaso did his best to isolate his athletes in space. At the end of the day, it was Asrpilla reaping the most benefits, showing off his blazing 4.5 speed and why he'll make a very nice fit next fall at BC, offense or defense.

"We were playing quarters," Stevenson said. "We tried to pressure the quarterback, but we obviously didn’t go a good enough job doing that."

He added, "You know what you’re getting with them, but they’re tough to defend. They have a lot of athletes they can spread the ball around to."

Everett now has Xaverian's number

October, 16, 2010

WESTWOOD, Mass. – It wasn’t quite revenge. It was the next best thing.

“When they beat us 29-0, that was an embarrassing loss,” Everett’s Manny Asprilla said, looking back on last year’s thumping doled out by No. 1 Xaverian in the Eastern Mass Division I Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium.

“That stayed with us through the summer, throughout the offseason lifting, everything. When we came into the game, we wanted to put a lot of points on the board. We wanted to hold them to zero.”

During Saturday’s bout between old rivals at the Hawk Bowl, No. 2 Everett first did it by power, then by sheer athleticism.

A healthy dose of Vondell Langston’s runs, followed by the connection between quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso and receiver Manny Asprilla created an effective balance on offense. The Crimson Tide defense slowed the Hawks’ explosive running game, limiting Xaverian to just 83 yards on the ground.

It wasn’t quite the shutout win that Asprilla was looking for, but Everett’s 28-13 win certainly got the job done. And for the second time this season in the ESPN Boston Top 25 poll, No. 2 took out No. 1.

“I didn't have any worry about them being flat, because they’ve got to walk though that whole student body,” Crimson Tide head coach John DiBiaso described his team’s walk to the field past throngs of Xaverian supporters. “My kids are going crazy. That was the best thing they could’ve done.

DiBiaso continued: “Can they come to all our games and do that? I wasn't worried about them being emotional, again I was more concerned about them keeping focus and keeping poise and composure.”

Jonathan DiBiaso got things started for Everett (5-0) with a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:58 remaining in the first quarter. The swirling wind pushed the point-after try wide left for a 6-0 Crimson Tide lead.

Everett nearly struck again before the end of the first half. Gilly DeSouza’s attempt on what would have been a 33-yard field goal was blocked by Chris Tamasi with no time remaining.

Xaverian (5-1) had a new lease on life, returning to field in the second half as Joe Colton’s 30-yard kickoff return set up the Hawks with positive field position.

Eight plays later, head coach Charlie Stevenson went to the bag of tricks for the old Statue of Liberty play. Xaverian quarterback Chris Calvanese deftly sold the play, handing the ball off to Nick McDaniels on the end around for a 3-yard touchdown run. Jules Murphy knocked home the extra point for a 7-6 Hawks lead with 5:35 remaining in the third quarter.

Then, the floodgates opened in the fourth, led by Asprilla’s efforts on both sides of the ball.

“Manny [Asprilla], he’s a freak,” Langston said of his teammate.

Langston, who registered 13 carries for 47 yards, rumbled into the end zone on a 4-yard run to regain the lead for Everett. DiBiaso (12 of 21, 195 yards, TD) connected with Asprilla on the two-point attempt for a 14-7 lead.

After Ronnie Richard recovered a Xaverian fumble on the ensuing kickoff, DiBiaso hit Asprilla for a 17-yard touchdown pass with seven minutes to go.

When the Hawks got the ball back, Asprilla again proved why he’s headed to Boston College next fall. As Xaverian quarterback Chris Calvanese scrambled right, Asprilla snatched an interception near midfield and sprinted 47 yards for the touchdown, putting the game out of reach.

The Hawks added a touchdown with no time remaining when Calvanese connected with Mike Muir on an 18-yard score.

Everett 6 0 0 22 -- 28
Xaverian 0 0 7 6 -- 13

1st quarter
Everett Jonathan DiBiaso 3-yard run (kick failed)

3rd quarter
Xaverian Nicholas McDaniels 3-yard run (Jules Murphy kick)

4th quarter
Everett Vondell Langston 4-yard run (Manny Asprilla pass from DiBiaso)
Everett Manny Asprilla 17-yard pass from DiBiaso (Gilly DeSouza kick)
Everett Asprilla 47-yard interception return (DeSouza kick)
Xaverian Mike Muir 18-yard pass from Chris Calvanese