For 13 years Joe D’Onofrio had a dream to take the field for the Everett High School football team.
On Saturday, D’Onofrio woke up and learned that his photo was splashed bigger than life across the front page of The Boston Herald.
D’Onofrio certainly deserved top billing after turning in a superb performance in his first game for the Crimson Tide. The 6-foot, 180-pound senior running back rushed for 160 yards and one touchdown in Everett’s 31-23 victory over Springfield Central Friday night at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Sometimes when you wish upon a star, you can become a star yourself. Just ask Joe D’Onofrio.
“It feels awesome – I’ve waited 13 years to get in my starting position for Everett High and I feel like I’ve finally come across what I was waiting for,” said D’Onofrio.
His football career began in Everett Pop Warner. He displayed his athletic skills through the years as a running back who often found the end zone. As a freshman, he enrolled at Everett High but transferred to Pope John XXIII High School where he excelled for two seasons and became the Catholic Central League MVP for the Tigers.
With Pope John football disbanding its program, D’Onofrio returned to Everett High for his senior year and earned a starting spot in the Crimson Tide backfield.
And there he was Friday night in front of a large opening night crowd, wearing the Everett High uniform and taking handoffs from senior quarterback Raheem Wingard.
D’Onofrio credited Everett’s newly built offensive line, including Muhamed Rauoi, D.J. MacDonald, Daniel Calderone, J.J. Collimon, C.J. Parvelus, and Guerschom Jean-Louis, for their blocking against Springfield Central, the defending Western Mass. champions.
“Coach [DiBiaso] said the linemen had a great game and they certainly helped me,” said D’Onofrio.
About the Boston Herald front page recognition, D’Onofrio said, “Three or four people told me about it before I saw it and I was like, “Are these kids kidding?” When I saw it, I was like, ‘Wow I’m actually in the paper.’ This is pretty crazy. My father told me he was crying when he saw it.”
D’Onofrio isn’t satisfied with one big game. He wants what he has seen all Everett players strive for while growing up in this city: a championship season.
“One win isn’t going to do it – you pretty much have to win every game because that’s what Everett High is about,” said D’Onofrio. “They had that one loss to Barnstable last year but then they turned around and beat them in the Super Bowl. Everett is a team about winning.”
The son of Everett School Committee member at-large Bernie D’Onofrio and Connie Serio, D’Onofrio said he was honored to finally have the opportunity to play for head coach John DiBiaso.
“Coach DiBiaso is an unbelievable guy to be around,” said D’Onofrio. “If he wants to make someone become a really great player, he has the experience through the years to put someone in a position they’ve never been in before.
“Even the way he brought up his son, Jonathan, he was breaking passing records and he made his son into a crazy superstar. Coach DiBiaso can do anything – he’s like a football mastermind.”
D’Onofrio is looking forward to Friday night’s game against Xaverian. It’s a huge test for the No. 1- ranked Tide against a Catholic Conference powerhouse, but it’s also Joe D’Onofrio’s 18th birthday.
“A lot of my family will be at the game, like my sister, Michaela, and my brother, Michael, so hopefully we’ll all be celebrating my birthday with a win,” he said.