Boston High School: Pat Long

Scrimmage Slants: Everett vs. Lynn English

August, 24, 2013
8/24/13
3:06
PM ET
EVERETT, Mass. -- This morning at Everett Memorial Stadium, the No. 2 Everett Crimson Tide hosted Lynn English in their annual first-weekend preseason scrimmage. In two series of varsity on varsity, Everett's offense scored four times, while the Bulldogs failed to reach the end zone.

This was our first look in the 2013 preseason at Everett, which is undergoing some wholesale changes in personnel after going 28-1 with three Super Bowl championships the last three seasons, as well as a good measure on several promising stars for English. Below are some notes and observations:

Radio Raheem: If there was any dash of speculation before about who was going to be taking snaps under center, incumbent senior Raheem Wingard made it clear who was in charge. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound Wingard is built low to the ground and gets overlooked for his height, but he has a better arm than given credit for, and is excellent at making the proper read on backside defensive ends.

After graduating one of the program's most talented classes ever, led by the likes of Jakarrie Washington (Wisconsin), John Montelus (Notre Dame) and Jalen Felix (Eastern Arizona JC), Wingard takes the reigns with a chip on his shoulder. Everett was down to its fourth-string quarterback by opening night of the 2012 campaign, but Wingard moved over from running back to QB full-time midway through the year, and gave the Tide another running threat out of the backfield.

"He's stepping it up," Tide coach John DiBiaso said. "I think Raheem wants to prove it wasn't just Jakarrie [Washington], Jalen Felix, Kenny Calaj, Gilly De Souza, you know, that he had a hand in it a little bit. A lot of these kids have been the same way."

Said Wingard, "I feel like I'm one of the quarterbacks that gets overlooked a lot because I'm smaller, but that just gives me a little more motivation, and it makes me push my team that much farther, that much harder."

[+] EnlargeEverett's Joe D'Onofrio
Brendan Hall/ESPNBostonPope John XXIII transfer Joe D'Onofrio looked sharp Saturday, and should factor significantly into the Everett offense this season.
Everett primarily operated out of two-by-two double slot formations, pairing Lukas Denis and Lubern Figaro on one side opposite newcomers Mike Lopes and Joe D'Onofrio. That opened up the field for a series of slippery zone read plays up the middle, which Wingard usually orchestrated correctly.

D'Onofrio off and running: The prettiest play of the afternoon belonged to D'Onofrio, who connected with Wingard for a 55-yard touchdown pass towards the end of the Tide's first of two offensive series. Split wide just outside the numbers, D'Onofrio gained a step on his defender cutting diagonally on a post route, slipped behind the safety coming over the top, and let the ball softly drop over his shoulder into his outstretch hands, sprinting the final 20 yards to paydirt.

The 5-foot-11, 182-pound D'Onofrio was the Catholic Central Small MVP last year at cross-town Pope John XXIII after rushing for 1,356 yards and 16 touchdowns, his second straight 1,000-yard rushing season. But school has since gotten rid of its football program, leading D'Onofrio back to Everett, where he dabbled as a freshman.

If this morning is any indication, D'Onofrio is making a seamless fit into the Everett passing game. His slender frame blended with top-end speed and crisp routes draws comparisons to former Everett great Matt Costello, the 2010 ESPN Boston Mr. Football now playing for Princeton University, with the ability to stretch a defense vertically and take the top off. They're slightly different players, though -- D'Onofrio is a bit more physical, what with playing outside linebacker on defense.

"He's a real good player," DiBiaso said. "I've known him since he was five years old, he grew up in [Everett's] Pop Warner and everything. He did the couple years at Pope John, and now he's back with us. We're happy to have him, he's a good addition to the program. He's a good athlete."

Green in the trenches: Last season, the Tide had one of the nation's heaviest lines, averaging 324 pounds across, led by the 6-foot-5, 330-pound Montelus. This year's line is smaller, but still pretty impressive by high school standards at nearly 286 pounds across. Senior center Zach Pierre (5-11, 284) is the lone returning starter, and the Tide are breaking in new guards in juniors Eric Trickett (6-1, 260) and Muhammad Raouie (6-0, 290).

Two of the most intriguing newbies may be at the bookends. Junior Guerschwon Jean-Louis is in his first year of ever playing organized football, but at 6-foot-5 and nearly 350 pounds he held his own at the left tackle position. Sophomore right tackle J.J. Collimon is almost athletic enough to be a tight end, and may project the highest at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds.

Today was a good matchup for the young but promising Everett line, which had to deal with ESPN Boston Preseason All-State selection Chris Tinkham on the interior. The 6-foot-3, 280-pound senior has attracted Division 1 interest and is an impressive bull-rusher on the interior, but everywhere else the Tide were able to take control.

Offensively, the Tide moved the ball consistenly downfield, with linemen consistently getting into the second level. In one of the more impressive plays of the varsity action, Raouie charged up the left sideline on a screen and sealed off an English defender 15 yards downfield.

Defensively, Tinkham high-walled ends from the left tackle spot, but from the right side the Tide registered two sacks in the second English offensive series, including a nice speed rush from three-technique tackle Sidney Brimas, while 180-pound tackle Josh Palmer caused disruption shooting the inside gaps.

Harris-Javier battle heats up: One of the more intriguing camp battles is at English, where Lucas Harris is the incumbent but has been getting a good run from junior transfer Jordan Javier. At Haverhill High last year as a sophomore, the 6-foot-4 Javier excelled at wide receiver, but over the summer he has gotten plenty of reps at quarterback -- a move that's merited, as he makes difficult throws look effortless.

Javier, laboring through a tweaked meniscus from earlier in the week, took most of his snaps at quarterback, and took a few lumps early in the first series. On one play, he scrambled down the right sideline only to be stopped cold by Everett's C.J. Parvelus 10 yards down field. Two plays later, Javier threaded a laser deep down the left slot, only to watch highly-touted safety Lubern Figaro stip the ball from Harris' grip at the last second.

Both Harris and Javier made some great plays on the run, hitting receivers with tight balls just steps from the sidelines on deep comeback routes. And when Javier did line up at receiver for a few plays, he made the most of it, including an impressive catch from Harris on a square-in route from the left.

So far, Javier has shown promise, but Harris has done nothing to suggest he shouldn't be the quarterback. Receiver appears to be Javier's more natural position, based on history, so perhaps there is a compromise.

It will be worth monitoring Javier's left knee, which he re-aggravated late in the varsity series, having to be carried off by teammates and barely putting weight on his left leg. It's considered nothing serious, another tweak of the meniscus, according to English coaches.

Miscellaneous: One name to keep an eye on down the line: Jordan McAfee. The 6-foot-3 freshman is the Tide's third-string quarterback behind Wingard and Pat Long, but demonstrates remarkable maturity for a 14-year-old kid and made two terrific throws on comeback routes in the morning's final series. ... When the Tide got inside the red zone, they went to their familiar "Double Wing" package, experimenting with Raouie at fullback. Twice they scored on five-yard power sweeps, one in each of the two varsity series, from Denis and D'Onofrio. ... The linebacking corps appears to be set for now, with Angel Duarte at middle linebacker and Parvelus and D'Onofrio playing outside. ... In the secondary, keep an eye on junior Richard Jean, who made a good break on a deep pass late in the second series, deflecting a would-be touchdown at the sideline from about 10 yards out. ... DiBiaso on the roles expected of Figaro and Denis: "They've got to be leaders. We don't have that many experienced [players], so they've got to be leaders on the team. Lubern and [Lukas], those are the two bigger names out there."

No. 1 Everett's magnum opus?

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
1:03
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Football in Everett is the constant pursuit of perfection. While Super Bowl seasons are celebrated, they’re also stacked up against each other. Each in the line of champions who roll through the Crimson Tide’s ranks are exalted. But they’re also put to the test of time, with one group’s achievement forever debated against the greats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scrimmage Slants: Everett vs. Lynn English

August, 26, 2012
8/26/12
1:30
AM ET
EVERETT, Mass. -- It’s a true sign that it’s almost football season when teams get out of the monotony of double-session practices and start getting to hit players from other teams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other observations from the scrimmage:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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