FOXBOROUGH — Anthony Norcia had a hard time falling asleep Friday, not till 3 a.m., to be exact. And it took just a flick of the television remote at his Everett home Saturday, watching one of the day’s early state finals, to get the juices flowing for Saturday night’s Division 1 state championship at Gillette Stadium.
“I was like, man, this is it, senior year, got to go out the right way,” Norcia said. “I really didn’t sleep much, to be honest, I was up all night watching film.”
And in what’s been a common theme throughout this storybook season for Everett, quarterback Jake Willcox’s ultimate security blanket on a receiving core that coach John DiBiaso calls his best ever manifested himself in a multitude of ways to propel the Crimson Tide to their 12th state title in 21 seasons.
“As I said, he’s Jake’s binky,” DiBiaso said of Norcia, who led all receivers Saturday with nine catches for 124 yards and a touchdown. “When everything is going wrong, we always have our binky to fall back on. He might not be the fastest, might not be the biggest, but consistency is his trademark.”
In need of a jump-start after an uninspired second quarter that allowed Xaverian to pull within 14-10 at halftime, Norcia got the Tide faithful out of their seats to open the third quarter with a vicious double-move for a 28-yard score. Lined up wide to the right sideline, facing single coverage with no safety help, Norcia released to the inside then planted his left foot, crossed the Xaverian cornerback’s face, and sprinted upfield for an easy catch-and-run to make it 21-10.
“We got him on the slant on in the first half, so I gave him a scram look inside,” Norcia said. “It was just a great call by Coach Dibs.”
Then after Xaverian fumbled the ball away on fourth down at the Everett 2-yard line, Norcia delivered a crackback block that sprung Kevin Brown loose down the right sideline for a 98-yard touchdown run that made it 28-10 with a minute to go in the third.
“That’s just how I am. I’m a team player, I block for my brothers,” Norcia said.
The Everett hallways have been swarming with college coaches, from the Power Five conferences all the way down to FCS — but mostly for the players around Norcia, who recently received his first scholarship offer from Merrimack College. But the senior will go down as arguably the Tide’s most productive player this season, finishing with team highs of 50 catches and 794 yards receiving, and tied for second in touchdown catches (five).
And to cap his career ecstatic on the Gillette turf, the ending couldn’t be any sweeter.
“I really can’t explain it. This is a dream come true,” he exclaimed.