EVERETT - The Crimson Tide won their 27th straight game Friday night, a 33-14 victory over Springfield Central. They will be trying to extend that streak this weekend, but it won’t be easy.
In what is most certainly the game of the week in Eastern Massachusetts, and what may be the game of the year, the No. 1-ranked Tide (2-0) will face-off against No. 2-ranked St. John’s Prep (2-0). The Eagles come into this week off of a 31-7 win over Central Catholic and Everett coach John DiBiaso knows they’ll be ready to go against his team, come Saturday afternoon.
“They’re going to come in, they want this very badly,” DiBiaso said. “We have to match their intensity, match their desire. We can’t come out flat. They’re a great team, number two in the state. They’ve been waiting all year to get this game.
“This is going to be our biggest challenge by far. They can run the ball. They got some big backs, some talented kids. They got a good defense, I think they return something like nine starters on defense. They’re ready. We have to be ready.”
To make sure his team is ready, DiBiaso said the Tide can’t have any mental lapses this week and wants to make sure everyone is on the same page come Saturday.
“(Our) focus all week is to stay focused,” he said. “That’s what we’re emphasizing all week is stay focused. It’s a big game, we’ve got to be mentally prepared. We have to come in like it means just as much to us.”
The Tide is expected to be at full force for the first time all season, with the exception of quarterback Pat Long, who is out with a separated shoulder. Wide receiver Kenny Calaj returned to practice Tuesday and is expected to play Saturday.
“I think we’re back at 100 percent,” DiBiaso said. “(We’ve) got guys with bumps and bruises. But the third week of the season, you’re gonna have guys with bruises. In that regard, I think we’ll be ok.”
Not only is this Saturday a huge game for the Tide, but it is also, perhaps, the biggest day of the year in Everett: Homecoming Day. But, DiBiaso is not buying into the hype and neither are his players.
“I ignore (the hype),” DiBiaso said. “It’s just distractions to me. We don’t even recognize it’s homecoming, don’t even think about it.”
DiBiaso says the only difference between being at home and on the road is the bus rides.
“We won’t have to get on a bus and sit for three hours, so that’ll help. But I don’t think it makes that much of a difference, home or away. You don’t get 70,000 people screaming.”
The Tide’s new star quarterback, Gilly DeSouza agreed with his head coach.
“I just look at it as another game,” DeSouza said. “But you know, one and two matchup is always gonna be hype. I just (have to) do my best, do what’s best for the team. We’ll be all set.”
Center Reardan Sweeney also played down the excitement, “There’s hype every week. We’re the number one team in the state, so we always got someone trying to beat us. We just have to keep focused and I’m sure we’ll do well.”
More than 50 bands and other groups from across the country are expected to participate in the Homecoming Parade, including fellow Everett High sports teams, the EHS marching band, football cheerleaders, and color guard.
The parade will begin at noon and start from Glendale Park, then it will head up Broadway, through Everett Square and down Chelsea Street to Veteran’s Memorial Stadium, in time for kickoff against the Prep at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday morning, the annual Homecoming Hustle will take place with all of the proceeds benefiting “Friends Fighting Breast Cancer.” The event is a 5K road race around the city and is run in honor of former Everett Public Schools employees, Janet Connolly O’Neil, Anthony M. Malione, and Peter J. Dolan.
During and following the race, a Homecoming breakfast will be served in the Everett High cafeteria.
DeSouza filled in at quarterback for the injured Long and Lukas Denis once again and, once again, he delivered. The senior completed six passes, four of them touchdowns, and threw for 137 yards.
“We went in prepared,” DeSouza said. “We threw more last week. I felt more confidence with myself and then coach (DiBiaso) and (quarterbacks coach Joe Lento) helped me out with the defense they were looking at. They said, ‘if anything just look over to the sideline and we’ll help you out if you have any questions.’ And we’ve just been rolling from there.”
The senior said he wasn’t caught off guard when he was thrust into action prior to the season opener, two weeks ago.
“When Pat went down, Lento said be ready for anything,” DeSouza said.” I always had it in the back of my mind. Even (former Everett quarterback) Jonathan (DiBiaso) always talked about it and said be ready. I mean they gave me the go and I just had the confidence with it.”
DeSouza, who DiBiaso called a “very, very pleasant surprise,” simply responded with a “no” when asked if he ever thought he’d be as successful as he’s been in his new role.
“With the wideouts and stuff like that that we have on the field, it makes things a lot easier.”
The Tide’s new star will get the start again this week and said the team simply has to follow the game plan.
“This week, we just have to have our game plan,” DeSouza said. “Everybody has to go in with confidence. Just do your job, do your assignments and we just gotta play our hearts out. It’s homecoming, it’s gonna be packed.”
The Tide has struggled defending the pass in their first two games, allowing Springfield Central quarterback Cody Williams to throw for 227 yards on 20 of 31 passing. And in the Tide’s season-opening victory against Leominster, the Blue Devils’ Garrett DelleChiaie threw for over 190 yards.
But coach DiBiaso didn’t seem too concerned, saying he doesn’t pay attention to the stats.
“I’d say 130 (yards) was against the second defense at the end of the game,” he said. “(Springfield Central) didn’t get that against the first team. The last three drives were against the second team, that played half the third quarter and the whole fourth quarter.
“They only gave up one score, but they did give up some yardage. You know, statistics, I don’t really worry about those. I know how (the defense) played.”
The forecast of wind and rain Tuesday afternoon forced the Tide indoors to the Everett High School gym. DiBiaso talked about their being some positives and some negatives to having to practice inside.
“With the rain we moved inside to a hot, sweaty gym,” he said. “On the plus side it let us look at some film. On the negative side, you can’t really practice your passing that much because your stuck in here and there’s not much room. But we’re working hard, I thought we did the best with the situation. We got a lot of stuff in. We got a lot of good work in.”
Every week we’ll have a captain or senior make a Patriots prediction for the upcoming game.
THIS WEEK’S PICK: PATRIOTS at RAVENS
Senior center Reardan Sweeney has the Patriots winning big on Sunday night, 34-20.
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 @ZuriBerry for all of the latest updates.
Then there are our winter correspondents:
- Alex Hall | @AlexKHall | Baseball
- Colleen Casey | @ColleenCasey226 | Softball
- Mike Giesta | Boys lacrosse
- Catherine Calsolaro | @catrenee13 | Girls lacrosse
- Liz Torres | @etorres446 | Boys volleyball
To reach the high school sports department, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Waiting for Twitter...