It was December of 1914, when football was played in leather helmets and the concept of the forward pass was less than 10 years old.
Between 4,500 and 5,000 spectators filled the Everett High grounds on the fifth of the month, eagerly waiting as the undefeated Crimson played host to Stamford, Conn., in the season’s final contest. Those who hoped for a competitive culmination left the stadium despondent; Everett thrashed Connecticut’s best, 62-0.
The blowout capped a 13-0 season in which the Crimson outscored their opponents, 600-0, earning them an illustrious label — “the greatest high school football team in history” — courtesy of Sport Magazine in January 1960.
Twenty-four years later, Sports Illustrated’s Morin Bishop arrived at a similar conclusion, describing Everett coach Cleo A. O’Donnell (1909-16) as a “demanding perfectionist . . . Easy to spot on the sidelines in one of his stylish suits.”
John DiBiaso, the current Everett coach, prefers the sweat suit to an actual coat and tie, and the Crimson notched but a single shutout in their 2017 campaign.
Still, the program’s current preeminence begs comparison to many of the great Everett teams of yesteryear as DiBiaso and company — unsurprisingly undefeated at 10-0 — prepare to take on Xaverian at Gillette Stadium on Saturday for the Division 1 Super Bowl.
DiBiaso credits much of the current group’s success to an amalgam of positive personalities and impressive work ethics.
“Like most of the teams that have done well, you don’t have trouble in school or problems with the kids,” DiBiaso said. “They’re very unselfish. This team epitomizes that as well. When we have good teams, I always say that the best players are good kids.”
On the field, one could point to a bevy of different areas in which Everett overwhelms opponents, from the consistency of kicker Caio Costa to the collective size of its defense, highlighted by 6-foot-5-inch, 205-pound senior defensive end Fritz Durosca. But perhaps the Crimson’s most frightening unit is a wide receiving corps that makes the Patriots appear thin by comparison.
Senior Isaiah Likely, a 6-5 senior, is a muscular mix between NFL receivers Mike Evans and Plaxico Burress. All quarterback Jake Willcox has to do to get the ball to Likely is to lob it in his direction. Slot man Anthony Norcia is Willcox’s security blanket. Mike Sainristil, a multi-purpose weapon, is a terrifying deep threat, while Jason Maitre and David Zorrilla round out the fearsome five.
Likely and Norcia combined for 1,216 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns on 70 receptions in the team’s 10-0 run.
“Around here, you play a team who has one stud receiver or maybe two, but you can do things to try and take one guy out of the game,” said Central Catholic coach Chuck Adamopoulos, whose Raiders lost to Everett, 37-29, in the Division 1 North final on Nov. 12.
“The biggest obstacle in getting ready when we played Everett was that they can throw four guys at you, and they’re all real good,” Adamopoulos added. “I’ve coached for 36 years in Massachusetts and it was the best collection of receivers that I’ve seen in this area.”
Everett superintendent of schools Frederick Foresteire has seen the full gamut of Crimson football teams since his brother played for the team in the 1950s. When Everett went just 2-9 in its 1991 campaign, Foresteire called upon DiBiaso, then a teacher and basketball coach at the school, to restore the football program to its winning ways.
The effects were immediate, the Crimson improving to 7-3 in DiBiaso’s first year at the helm of the program.
Bobby Leo, a former Boston Patriot and Everett High alum, played with Foresteire in 1960 and ’61, and for DiBiaso’s late father, John Sr., in junior high.
“He’s still my most beloved coach,” Leo said of the elder DiBiaso. “He was a great guy and he really inspired me to do what I wanted to do and perform the way I wanted to perform. His son has taken the Everett program and just completely revamped it for many years now and made Everett football into a dynasty like the Patriots.”
Everett is 11-5 in Super Bowls since DiBiaso’s hiring, and its postseason streak now spans 17 seasons.
“When I was elected superintendent 30 years ago, morale wasn’t as high as it should be,” said Foresteire. “It goes back to Bear Bryant’s statement; he never saw 100,000 people turn out for the opening of a chemistry lab. Football creates spirit. That’s what it does here in the city of Everett. It’s community pride. It’s community spirit.”
That spirit is bolstered by the 798 wins Everett has accumulated in its 124-year history. How its most recent 10 compare to the preceding 788 remains up for debate, and will hinge on Saturday’s duel in Foxborough.
DiBiaso isn’t concerned with all that, unwilling to select one of his squads and immortalize them above the rest.
The architect of Everett’s success knows his current bunch won’t even enter the conversation unless they’re able to vanquish Xaverian and complete another unblemished season.
“You can’t choose amongst teams because it’s like choosing amongst your own children,” DiBiaso joked. “This team is a very good team — they’ve beat everybody that’s been put in front of them so far — but until you win a Super Bowl, you’re not up there in the champions club.”Owen Pence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.