The Hawks have struggled through injury problems at the receiving position all season long. Garrett Connolly made a big impact in his first game against Everett, catching his only two touchdown passes of the year, a 21- and 32-yarder. Robert Cavanaugh and Mike Muir each have also contributed a couple of scoring receptions, but most of Xaverian's pass-catching threats come out of the backfield. Stats: Warren 3; Colton 3; Connolly 2; Muir 2.
Everett has one of the hidden gems in all of Division 1, Matt Costello. What he lacks in height, he makes up for in sticky hands, fearlessness, and a knowledge of where the first-down marker is at all times. He has the complete trust of his quarterback, and is always DiBiaso's first option – especially on third down. Dukens Leon will also see some passes thrown his way at times, but like Xaverian, Everett's multitude of backs are also primary receiving threats. Stats: Costello 5 TDs; Asprilla 4 TDs; Langston 2; Bourdeau 2.
Edge – Everett
Xaverian has one of the largest and strongest linemen around in Cam Colwell, while less-publicized but very effective Jack Dustin complements Colwell perfectly. The Hawks have been so successful running the ball because they always get a strong push at the line, and they are all adept to blocking for the occasional Xaverian screen. Colwell forced the game-ending incompletion at Everett earlier this year.
Everett's lack of size will hurt them in this game. Nelson Delgado, a tall, wiry, and quick end created havoc against Billerica and has been incredibly consistent over the last two season. The lineman are adept to drive-blocking as well as pulling, with Everett's tight formations that usually result in either an inside handoff or a toss. Sherwood Jonathan, Jainyme DaSilveria, and Shaq Taylor can all play, but Xaverian's lines are huge.
Xaverian's linebackers are fast, smart, and great tacklers. Mike Hyatt and Call Cuff spearhead what is probably the Hawks' most versatile group.
Everett's doesn't have the depth at the linebacker position Xaverian has. But the best linebacker in the contest will be Mike LaRochelle, and ferocious tackler and a great blitzer.
Edge – Push
Colton is an absolute pest at cornerback for the Hawks. He compensates for his lack in size with strong physicality at the line, knocking receivers off their routes. If Everett decides to air it out, Colton vs. Costello may end up being the game's most intriguing battle.
Costello and Noel cleaned up what the defensive line started against Billerica, totaling four pick (three by Costello, one of which was set up by a Noel tip.) Noel has been coveted by some high-end colleges for a while now, and Gillette will be a perfect podium to showcase why. It is worth noting that, unlike many high school teams, neither quarterback plays in the secondary.
Edge – Everett
Xaverian's kicker Jules Murphy has one of the strongest legs in Division 1, both on kickoffs and field goal attempts, in the league. He rarely misses an extra point. Colton has taken back kicks to the house this year, and Xaverian rarely makes a mistake in the return game.
Freshman Gilly DeSouza is rarely used on field goals, but is a consistent PAT man. Last time these two teams met, a costly fumble on a kickoff return was the difference. Against Billerica, Everett converted on a fake punt, when Costello hit Rodman on a key fourth-and-8.
Edge – Xaveiran.
Both of these teams simply belong to be at Gillette, and neither expects to leave emtpy-handed. Everett's offense is built to keep the ball away from the opposition, but also shows flashes of big-play ability. Xaverian utilizes the pass more effectively. Everett has been proving pundits like me wrong this year, but Xaverian is possibly the best team in the state. Neither team shows many flaws, but Everett's may be easier to exploit. It will be close, it will be psychical, and it will a great game.
Edge – Xaverian.
Several reporters and editors contribute updates, news and analysis to the High School Sports Blog.
- Bob Holmes: A Reading resident (Go Rockets!) and Boston College graduate, Holmes is the Boston Globe High School Sports Editor. We remind you now that his weekly picks are often made in jest so everyone just calm down when he picks against Everett for 11 straight weeks. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeHolmes.
- Craig Larson: A native of West Springfield (Leo Durocher anyone? Tim Daggett?) and Curry College graduate (a proud Colonel!), Larson is the sports editor for the Globe's regional sections: South, West and North, as well as a frequent contributor on the college beat. Abington to Xaverian: it all starts with the schools. Have a compelling story idea? Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeLars.
- Zuri Berry: Berry attended the same high school as sports legends O.J. Simpson and Joe DiMaggio. (Guess which one is his hero.) He's a South Boston resident (formerly of Eastie) and the editor of the High School Sports blog as well as the go-to-guy for everything high school sports on Boston.com. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GlobeSchools for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Emily McCarthy | @EmilyMcCahthy | BPS correspondent
- Jake Fischer | @GlobeFischer | Boys basketball
- Michelle Fenelon | @michfenelon | Girls basketball
- Andrew MacDougall | @Andy_MacDougall | Boys hockey
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Girls hockey
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.