The Reading and Beverly teams capped undefeated seasons with victories, Everett won its third consecutive title, and St. John’s Prep captured its first championship since 1997. Here’s a look at their road to Super Bowl crowns:
EMass Division 1
St. John's Prep 48, Brockton 28
Defining moment of the season: After losing to Everett 19-7 in Week 3, the Eagles (11-1) bounced back and beat Brockton 27-12 the following week, triggering a season-closing nine-game winning streak. “It wasn’t one of our better games,” said coach Jim O'Leary of the Brockton win. “We came out with a win and we were thankful for it, but we were determined to play better [in the Super Bowl] than we did that night.
Key play of the Super Bowl: After the Eagles scored on their second play from scrimmage, they forced a three-and-out from Brockton. Lucas Bavaro blocked the punt, senior Jake Anemoduris pounced on the recovery and returned the ball for a 22-yard score and a 13-0 lead three minutes into play. “Once it goes bad like that, things can drop off the table quick,” O’Leary said.
Unsung hero: Prep scored 33 touchdowns on the ground this season, and O’Leary tipped his cap to the offensive line, anchored by senior center James Fagan.
“You don’t rush for [almost] 3,000 yards without a line like we had,” O’Leary said. “Fagan is our linchpin in the middle, all the best linemen are put on his nose and he anchors our line.
Stat check: Fifteen different players carried the ball this season, racking up 2,994 yards, which accounted for 75.8 percent of Prep’s offensive production. Johnathan Thomas (1,794 yards) and Alex Moore (857 yards) led the way.
Coach O’Leary: “I’m just so pleased it happened with this team,” O’Leary said. “The day after [last season], they got into the weight room. They made the determination and worked as hard as anybody could possibly work.”
The Future: Twenty-eight seniors will graduate. Along with Thomas, a junior, four of the five starting linemen return: juniors Dominic Hoven , Sean Hoey , Kent Blaeser and sophomore Jacob Palmer . O’Leary is also excited about the return of junior lineman Sean Lovett and sophomore tight end Jake Burt .
EMass Division 1A
Everett 20, Barnstable 19
Defining moment of the season: Just three weeks in, the Crimson Tide toppled St. John’s Prep, 19-7, on second-half touchdowns from Kenny Calaj and Jalen Felix .
Key play of the Super Bowl: On Barnstable’s third pass of the game, defensive back Josh Palmer intercepted Nick Peabody, one of the state’s most prolific passers, and returned the ball 30 yards for a pick-six.
Unsung hero: For coach John DiBiaso, Gilly DeSouza did it all. When DiBiaso needed a quarterback, DeSouza, who had never played the position before, stepped up. He captained the defense at safety, was the team’s kicker, and even played wide receiver. “He was essentially a coach on the field,” DiBiaso said.
Stat check: After quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso carved his name into the record books last season, the elder DiBiaso shuffled four quarterbacks through the depth chart. Junior Pat Long and sophomore Lukas Denis were both injured in the preseason, leaving DeSouza to play four games before junior Raheem Wingard finished out the season. All quarterback troubles aside, Everett still managed a Super Bowl title.
Coach DiBiaso : The Super Bowl victory “was especially gratifying because we had a lot of bumps in the road. It wasn’t the smoothest season. We had a lot of injuries and had to switch positions around. I lost about five years off my life, but other than that, it was good.”
The future: Nearly the entire offensive unit is graduating. The Crimson Tide will be without Notre Dame-bound lineman John Montelus and the whole offensive line, their top scorers, Washington (23 touchdowns) and Felix (13), as well as Calaj and DeSouza. While there will be plenty of holes to fill on offense, the defense looks bright with the return of defensive back Lubern Figaro , and linebackers Angel Duarte and C.J. Parvelus , who will all be seniors.
“We’re graduating a lot of very good players, so next year we’ll definitely be in the rebuilding process,” DiBiaso said.
EMass Division 2
Reading 27, Mansfield 7
Defining moment of the season: Burlington (10-2) gave Reading a scare Oct. 5 when it took a 15-14 lead late in the contest. But quarterback Drew Belcher engineered an 8-play, 47-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard touchdown run in the final minute to keep the Rockets undefeated.
“We know we can make plays and we made them,” Reading coach John Fiore said. “We met all comers, played a tough out-of-league schedule and here we are.”Continued...