EVERETT -- The second-ranked Crimson Tide (4-1) won, 51-30, over GBL rival Cambridge Friday night. But Everett struggled on defense all game and led just 36-30, midway through the fourth quarter. It took a 70-yard interception return from Brendan LaRosa to stop the Falcons, who were driving to tie the game or take the lead.
This week, the Tide must improve on defense if they want to stop Xaverian (1-4), which after opening the season with a 35-7 win over Malden Catholic, has lost four straight games and fallen out of the Globe Top 20 and to No. 25 in the Boston.com 100.
The Hawks' record is deceiving, though. They lost to St. Joseph's, New Jersey's No. 1-ranked team and the seventh ranked team in the country, 62-0, in Week 2. They then lost their next three games (against No. 12 Brockton, No. 11 Andover, and No. 3 Duxbury) by a combined 14 points.
How does Everett look past the Hawks' record?
Coach John DiBiaso referenced the time they spent on the field Tuesday, when responding to that question.
"What time is it?" DiBiaso said, looking at his cellphone. Normally, the Tide's practice ends before 6:30. Tuesday night, it ended closer to 7.
"We're not overlooking them," he said, simply. "We're not overlooking."
DiBiaso wants the Tide to shore things up on both sides of the ball and play a complete game, something they haven't been able to do the last two weeks.
"We can't turn the ball over," he said. "We had four turnovers [against Cambridge]. Can't give up 30 points. Can't give up big plays. I'd like to see a total game. We played great defense against Barnstable. We need to be more consistent. The injuries are the injuries, you gotta deal with them. Still gotta come and be consistent."
Those injuries DiBiaso referenced continue for the Tide. This week, kicker./safety/wide receiver Gilly DeSouza was added to the walking wounded. DeSouza, who started the season as the quarterback, was injured against Cambridge. Junior Raheem Wingard took over at quarterback prior to Friday night's game.
"We got more guys injured this week," DiBiaso said. "Gilly's injured now. We're still banged up."
Receiver and defensive back Kenny Calaj and defensive end Jeff Soulouque remain out. Half back and defensive back Jalen Felix could return.
The injuries on the Tide defense showed against Cambridge. Everett allowed Falcons' quarterback David Maaghul to throw for almost 250 yards and four touchdowns. The defense also allowed Cambridge back in the game after the Everett offense had built a 29-6 lead.
"[Cambridge] had some good wide receivers, some of the better skill guys we played all year," defensive backs coach Ryan Taylor said. "We played a lot of young guys, especially in the secondary."
Taylor pointed to three players in the secondary starting the first games of their careers.
"[We had] two sophomores starting in the secondary, first time ever starting," he said. "Matt Pothier, senior, but first time he's ever started a game. This week, hopefully we get Jalen Felix back and mix things up with Xaverian."
Taylor said he wants to get the Hawks' offense off balance, by showing them multiple defenses.
"They give a lot of different looks, so basically, we really just wanna give them a couple different looks on defense, so they don't know what's coming. Throw the quarterback a little off his game."
LaRosa, who made the play of the game on Friday night, wasn't even supposed to be in on the field at that moment. Jakarrie Washington, named a Globe player of the week after scoring five touchdowns, had to come out two plays earlier, because of a cramp, and LaRosa took advantage of the opportunity.
"[The coaches] always tell you to just be ready to play," said LaRosa, who is the starting slot receiver. "They just threw me in there. I was kind of tight because I wasn't really playing a lot. I was playing on offense, but on defense I wasn't out there for a while. They threw me in and I just reacted to the ball.
"I just had to read the quarterback, because you need to keep everything in front of you. I just dropped back and made a play on the ball."
Coach Taylor had a lot of praise for LaRosa, calling him an example all of Everett's players should follow.
"One thing we realized with Brendan, a little more this year, is he wants it," Taylor said. "He really wants it. He's worked really hard. He's been there every day. It's a perfect example to our kids to always be ready. Always be ready, your number can always be called.
"All year I said Brendan, 'just be ready.' Brendan has probably taken a total of 15 defensive back reps the entire year, but I give him reps everyday [at practice]. You never know, Jakarrie goes out, anyone goes down, you gotta be ready."
There is one BIG matchup on tap for Saturday afternoon.
It's Everett's offensive lineman and Notre Dame recruit, John Montelus (6 feet 5 inches, 330 pounds) vs. Xaverian's defensive tackle and Michigan commit, Maurice Hurst (6-2, 295 pounds).
The two will be battling one another and Montelus says it will be a difficult matchup, but the ultimate goal of the whole offensive line is to make it easy on the backs to move the ball.
"[We want] to just pound the ball," Montelus said. "It's gonna be a tough one. But, hopefully [we] get low and just be more aggressive this week."
Montelus will have bragging rights, because on Thursday, the 2013 US Army All-American Bowl Selection Tour will be in Everett to announce that Montelus will be one of 90 players from across the country to participate in the US Army All-American Bowl.
The lineman will be honored by Everett High, in front of teammates, classmates, and family during a ceremony at Everett Memorial Stadium.
"It's really good for me," Montelus said. "I guess I'm the second guy from Massachusetts to ever make it. So, I'm honored to be in that game. I want to represent Massachusetts because I'm the only guy [from the state going]."
The US Army All-American Bowl is January 5 at noon at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas and will be televised on NBC. NFL stars Andrew Luck, Tim Tebow, Mark Sanchez, and Ndamukong Suh have participated in the game in recent years.
Every week we'll have a captain or senior make a Patriots prediction for the upcoming game.
THIS WEEK'S PICK -- PATRIOTS AT SEATTLE
Sr. WR/DB Brendan LaRosa is going with the Patriots to win their third straight, 35-21.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com.