At Everett, De Bona was an honors student with a 3.8 GPA, he was dedicated to the notion of being a scholar and being a gentleman was something that came naturally to the quiet, good-natured kid.
“We did our homework, we would never put what we have in jeopardy,” said Scarpelli in regards to any trepidation he had regarding De Bona’s past. “Who am I to begrudge this kid of his dream to play? I knew I had to do what I could to at least try to help him get on the field.”
Viele began putting together the waiver request form for De Bona at the start of the school year, complete with letters of recommendation and a letter to the MIAA from De Bona himself.
After a couple of weeks they received a response rejecting the initial application, which is common for a would-be player over the age of 18.
The MIAA granted them a hearing, and De Bona’s story seemed to resonate.
“Normally they let you know their answer within a few hours,” said Scarpelli. “One time they even stopped us on the way out the door to give us a verdict. This time we had to wait.”
Once the ball got rolling for De Bona, who scored a hat trick in his first full game against Randolph, there has been no stopping the Somerville offense.
The Highlanders, ranked second in the Globe’s Top 20, have scored 70 goals since his arrival. De Bona has accounted for 28, and he’s made a seamless integration into the family-like atmosphere of the Highlanders’ locker room.
“I tell him that I am going to fight him because he is originally from Everett,” joked senior defensive captain Augusto DeOliveira. “He is like my brother from another mother. I won’t allow anyone to touch him or mess with him. Except me.”
De Bona’s partner on the attack, junior Thayrone Miranda, was already an All-State striker, but he has turned into an offensive force, leading the Greater Boston League in points, with 23 goals and 24 assists, in the regular season.
Success has trickled down to all of De Bona’s teammates, allowing them to get equal notice from the college scouts who have dotted Dilboy Stadium in the past few weeks.
But as Somerville’s team continues to succeed, the detractors seem to grow, and many of the Internet cynics will not be happy until De Bona is exposed for some sort of wrongdoing.
“He needs to let it go in one ear and out the other,” said Fagundez. “If that doesn’t work, then go out there and score more goals, and keep doing it.”
In this age of nonstop social media, it’s hard for a 19-year-old to just dismiss harsh words from people he has never met, but De Bona has done his best to rise above it on and off the field.
In the spring, De Bona will obtain his high school diploma, and he hopes the chance to play at the collegiate level will help him fulfill his lifelong goal of becoming a professional soccer player.
“When [Viele] said I got the waiver to play, it was such a great feeling,” said De Bona. “I’m happy being a part of this team and to have the chance to play every day.”
De Bona is grateful for the opportunity that has been afforded him and he is doing everything he can to prove it to those who have helped him get here, and even more so to those who say he doesn’t belong.