Get ready, North Shore football. The Tide is about to roll in.
We’re talking about the Crimson Tide of Everett. And while it’s possible the onrushing Tide may not be the tsunami in 2019 that it was at its peak earlier in the decade, the prospect of this football juggernaut permanently placed in the Northeastern Conference — pending final approval by the rest of the league’s schools — can’t help but change the landscape in the league where many of the North Shore’s football programs reside.
We’re talking about incorporating into the NEC a football program that captured 12 Super Bowls in the 26 years John DiBiaso was coach. And in the years the Crimson Tide didn’t win outright, they were strong contenders. Everett never had to rebuild. It simply had to reload for the next season.
It’s certainly not a stretch to say that Everett, for more than a quarter of a century, has been the standard by which all high school football programs are measured — even the haughty Catholic schools like St. John’s Prep and Xaverian.
Two years ago, with the Greater Boston League having dwindled down to four schools (Everett, Malden, Medford and Somerville), NEC principals voted to absorb the programs into its league with one exception — Everett football. However, the door was left open for Everett to join the fold in the future.
This served everybody’s purpose. Under the playoff system that was inaugurated in 2013, schools in Eastern Mass. are spread out over eight divisions and ranked in each by a formula of wins, losses and strength of schedule. Prior to 2013, you could play a powerful non-league opponent and not have the loss count against you. Now, you can.
The system, which de-emphasizes league standings in favor of divisional rankings, left schools leery of playing teams such as Everett. This was due to both fear of absorbing a loss in the divisional standings and because they feared that a physically superior Crimson Tide could be detrimental to the health of their players.
At the same time, wins against teams two and three divisions below them didn’t really help the Crimson Tide either. DiBiaso preferred to play his patchwork independent schedule of powerful Catholic School teams and other powerhouses. He also willingly played the three other GBL teams.
This arrangement may have resulted in some grumbling, but it wasn’t enough to cause a furor. Most coaches were happy with the arrangement.
Beginning next fall, however, Everett is back in, and will be incorporated into one of the two divisions of the once-again, newly-aligned NEC (which goes for all sports, by the way, and not just football).
The South puts the four GBL schools in with Classical, English, Salem and Revere. The North would include Marblehead, Swampscott, Saugus, Winthrop, Beverly, Danvers, Peabody and Gloucester.
It didn’t take the NEC long to bring Everett back into the fold once DiBiaso announced — after the Tide won the Super Bowl in December — that he was stepping down and taking the Catholic Memorial job. Call “Dibs” the Stan Bondelevitch of his era. Everett has had a strong program in the past, but under DiBiaso’s tutelage, the Tide’s success has been almost unprecedented.
There’s no guarantee that Everett will be any less powerful under new coach Theluxon Pierre than it was under DiBiaso. The loss of an iconic coach has affected teams differently. Gloucester had tremendous success under Terry Silva, and sustained it through Paul Ingram. Peabody, on the other hand, never entirely regained its footing after Ed Nizwantowski left.
But Niz was forced out, so the person coming in after him had to pick up the pieces and deal with what was left. Pierre, an assistant under DiBiaso, will inherit an established system that has been set up for success. Chances are, Everett will be just as strong as ever — at least initially. What happens five years down the line could be a different story.
Of course, none of that matters now. For the foreseeable future, all we have to know is that one of the top programs in the history of Massachusetts high school football has been put into our league, and that every year, that team will play Classical and English.
That can’t be anything other than great news for football fans.