Winning a state championship is never easy.
It takes months of practice and preparation and the week-by-week building of cohesiveness and momentum with the hope that when the title is on the line, your team will come together as one and shine on the biggest stage in high school sports.
Some players get to experience the thrill of playing in a game as glorious as the Super Bowl once in their lives. In Everett being a league champion and competing in the playoffs has become almost an annual ritual.
But each season is unique its own makeup. This season there were obstacles along the way – injuries to key players and a team looking for leaders on both sides of the ball to emerge after having the most prolific quarterback [Jon DiBiaso] in state history paving the way to consecutive Super Bowl titles.
On a wintry Saturday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, the Everett High football team displayed its mettle against a very worthy Barnstable contingent that came to Foxboro with the No. 1 ranking and a prior victory over the Crimson Tide in the regular season.
Jakarrie Washington lived up to his reputation as one of the state’s most exciting players and Kenny Calaj made a key interception late in the game as Everett High defeated Barnstable 20-19 in the Division 1A Super Bowl in Foxboro.
Washington had nine carries for 124 yards and scored two touchdowns, one on an electrifying 53 yard-run that featured textbook blocking by the Everett line.
Josh Palmer provided a lineman’s dream for the Everett defense when he intercepted a Barnstable screen pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, giving Everett a quick 6-0 lead. Gilly DeSouza booted the PAT.
“We had worked on squinting screens the last couple of weeks and we [Gerry Edmonds] actually intercepted a screen against Masconomet (a 42-0 victory in the semifinals) and we worked on in practice and Josh came up with a big play – I give him all the credit in the world,” said head coach John DiBiaso.
One key to the victory was the ferocious pressure that defensive line Jeff Soulouque, Omar Garciano, and Josh Palmer applied on Barnstable quarterback Nick Peabody. Linebackers Angel Duarte, C.J. Parvelus, and ultimate game-sealer Kenny Calaj and defensive backs Jalen Felix, Gilly DeSouza, and Luben Figaro helped contain Barnstable’s potent passing game
Head coach John DiBiaso felt the showed the team’s heart and fortitude against an excellent opponent.
“We just hung in there – we didn’t have the greatest game but we made some big plays and we did come away with win so that’s all that matters,” said DiBiaso.
Barnstable (11-1) closed the gap to 7-6 before the Red Raiders committed two penalties during a punt, one being an interference call as Joey White attempted to field the punt.
Washington took the ensuing handoff from quarterback Raheem Wingard and raced 53 yards to paydirt. Patrick Sullivan (set up in the backfield), John Montelus, and Reardan Sweeney helped ignite the play with their blocking at the line of scrimmage while Michael Ottersburg, Joey White, and Zach Pierre cleared the way downfield as Washington turned on the jets and scored his first of two touchdowns.
Washington’s second TD (a 6-yard run) and DeSouza’s PAT gave Everett a 20-6 lead before Barnstable rallied for two touchdowns to close the margin to 20-19.
The Red Raiders pressed forward for the go-ahead score late in the fourth quarter but Calaj stepped in front of a pass along the sidelines and made the interception that would seal the victory.
There was an anxious moment when the referees placed two seconds back on the clock on fourth down and Everett holding a one-point lead. Wingard took the snap and headed toward the Tide’s own 10-yard line where he eventually took a knee. Joey White handed the ball to the referee and the championship was in the books.
“Raheem held it together and made some big plays for us,” said DiBiaso. “On that last play, those were the longest two seconds of my life. I’m very excited. It’s the tenth Super Bowl and I’m very proud of the kids.”