Since the MIAA moved to its new football playoff format in 2013, Everett and Central Catholic have faced off five times in the Division 1 North semifinals or final. While Everett ran away with victories in 2016 and 2017 en route to the Super Bowl, the Raiders stunned the Crimson Tide at home last November, snapping a 27-game win streak with a 23-20 victory in a D1 North semifinal.
Nick Mazzie, the son of Everett police chief Steve Mazzie, provided the game-winning kick in that contest. Nick Donatio, whose father and great uncle starred at Everett, also has a unique perspective on the history of Everett football.
“We joked about it a couple times,” Mazzie said about sharing the connection with Donatio.
“It’s crazy that are dads are from there and we’re following in their footsteps, but we’re beating Everett this time.”
While Central has the upper hand with a 4-2 record (including a regular season win) against Everett since 2013, coach Chuck Adamopoulos recognizes that his program is relatively unproven when compared to the winningest program in state history. Therefore, it’s hard to consider top-seeded Central as the favorite when its hosts Everett this Saturday (12 p.m.) at Lawrence Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Everett is one of the major hurdles you have to overcome if you want to be successful,” said Adamopoulos. “I respect their traditions and their program a great deal. Their city just loves football and everything in the town revolves around football.”
After a blowout loss to Springfield Central in its opener, Everett has rallied for seven straight wins, including a 47-6 thrashing of Acton-Boxborough in the D1 North quarterfinals.
The fourth-seeded Tide have a prolific offense led by junior quarterback Duke Doherty, who can target a trio of blazing wide receivers in Eli Auguste, Tyrese Baptiste, and Ismael Zamor. Defensively, Everett has several young prospects getting looks from Boston College and other area schools, while the offensive line has come together in recent weeks to open things up for the Tide’s running game.
“Sometimes you have to take a fall to appreciate winning,” said Everett second-year coach Theluxon Pierre. “After Week 1, the team as a whole responded pretty well. We’re our own worst enemy. If we show up and do what we need to do, we’ll be OK. The team is where it needs to be now and we’ll see what happens Saturday.”
■ King Philip at Mansfield: Last year, Mansfield finally edged KP in the regular season, only to fall to the Warriors in the D2 South final. After earning a thrilling regular-season victory against KP in October, the Hornets now look to finish the job. Pick: Mansfield.
■ Wellesley at Natick: This D2 South semifinal also pits heated rivals against each other. Natick stopped Wellesley’s 2-point conversion attempt for a 14-13 victory in October, and the rematch may also go down to the wire. Pick: Natick.
■ Marblehead at Melrose: With two of the best defenses in the state slated to square off on Friday night, this D4 North semifinal has the makings of a close finish. Pick: Melrose.
■ North Andover at Reading: The defending D2 state champion Scarlet Knights travel down I-93 to face top-seeded Reading, which is led by sensational freshman quarterback James Murphy. Pick: North Andover.
■ Wayland at Revere: It’s been a season of destiny for the undefeated Patriots, but Wayland is looking formidable after rolling past Lincoln-Sudbury, 45-8, in its season finale. Pick: Revere.
■ Ashland at Rockland: There is little time for a dramatic buildup in D6 South, as two undefeated championship contenders face off in the sectional semifinals. Can Ashland snap Rockland’s state-best 14-game win streak? Pick: Ashland.
■ Brockton at Franklin: There should be no shortage of points in this D1 South semifinal, with Thomas Gasbarro leading a versatile Panthers attack, while Devonte Medley and Ahmik Watterson are lighting it up for the Boxers. Pick: Brockton.
■ Everett at Central Catholic: Central sophomore QB Ayden Pereira and Everett junior quarterback Duke Doherty are likely to air it out in a Saturday afternoon showdown. While the future is bright for both programs, Everett may be a year away from returning to the Super Bowl. Pick: Central Catholic.
■ Nantucket at Cohasset: The Whalers turned heads with a 42-0 playoff win over a Mashpee team that beat them during the regular season. Now they’ll look to avenge a 48-7 regular season loss to Cohasset in Saturday’s rematch. Pick: Nantucket.
■ Concord-Carlisle at Tewksbury: The Patriots have staged five dramatic comebacks during an 8-0 season, but will need to play a full 48 minutes if they want to upset the second-seeded Redmen Saturday at Doucette Field. Pick: Tewksbury.
Nate Weitzer can be reached at email@example.com.