St. John's Eagles Football '07

Still an EMass power, Everett set to invade Cronin Field

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St. John's Prep's Scott Darby releases the ball right before he is tackled by Central Catholic's Matt LaFrance at Lawrence Stadium. The Eagles defeated the Raiders 12-0. » Deborah Hammond, Staff Photographer

Friday, September, 21 By Matt Jenkins
Staff writer

The way Everett football coach John DiBiaso talks about his team, it makes you wonder if he either holds back information or simply demands excellence all the time.

"We don't really do anything special," DiBiaso said, obviously paying no attention to the complete dominance his Crimson Tide has displayed over the last decade. "We've got running backs to the left and right, a fullback and a quarterback, and they all carry the ball."

St. John's Prep may know that any one of four options could be carrying the ball on a particular play when the two unbeaten teams meet tomorrow afternoon at Cronin Field in Danvers (1:30 p.m.), but that won't make it easier to stop. Teams from around Eastern Massachusetts have been trying to stem the Tide for years, yet very, very few have been successful. Since 2000, Everett has advanced to the Division 1 Super Bowl five times and won four of those title tilts, including a 13-7 triumph over the Prep in 2002.

St. John's hasn't played Everett since losing to it in the 2003 playoff semifinals, 38-6. That was the Prep's third straight postseason setback at the hands of the Crimson Tide. The Eagles also lost to Everett, 17-13, in the Division 1 playoffs in 2001.

Tomorrow's game has no postseason implications, and DiBiaso was excited about the possibility of meeting the Eagles in the regular season, long before either team dives into their respective league schedules.

"They're an elite program (that) we're going up to play at their home field," said DiBiaso, whose team, like St. John's, comes into the contest with a 2-0 record. "It's still a non-league game and doesn't have a bearing on the playoffs. Other than that, we want to play well every game." Everett has had little trouble with either of its first two opponents, dispatching Central Mass. power Leominster (34-0), then winning at Somerville (34-7).

St. John's Prep, meanwhile, has turned in consecutive shutouts in blasting Peabody (44-0) and shading Central Catholic (12-0).

The biggest concern facing St. John's Prep, aside from Everett's large reputation, is finding a way to slow down senior running back Isaac Johnson.

Having already committed to play at Boston College next seson, Johnson is a threat on both sides of the field as a running back and cornerback.

DiBiaso doesn't worry about how teams will defend the Tide; he's only concerned with how his squad plays.

"We're only two games in, but we've played fairly well. We've made some mistakes because it's early in the season. Hopefully, we'll start to iron those things out," DiBiaso said.

"I saw St. John's a couple of times; they're always a good team. They're a good program traditionally."

If there is one thing for Everett to worry about, it has to be that Eagles' senior running back Derek Coppola hasn't hit his stride yet. Coppola, a 1,000-yard rusher from a year ago, has managed just 74 yards on 21 carries through two games so far. He's bound to break out sooner or later.

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