From their screaming fans to the monstrous waves of crimson adorning the walls of their stadium, one instantly knows that football is more than a sport in Everett. It’s more than a passion. It’s a way of life for thousands of proud Crimson Tide fans around the Commonwealth.
Everett is so densely populated that utilizing the city’s sporting programs and parks are one of the best options to keeps kids active, healthy, and out of trouble. After years of grooming and practice in youth football, the young men of Everett High School join the ranks of the Crimson Tide, a tremendous program with a track record unparalleled by any other in the state of Massachusetts.
Winning championships for decades, the pressure is always on for Everett’s players and coaches. There is an expectation that they will win each time they take the field, no matter how big or small the challenge. Yet, their few humbling losses over the last decade have shown just as much about the program, its leaders, and the city in general.
The team seemingly has a larger bull’s eye on their jersey as their success compounds each and every season, yet their expectation for top performance and proper conduct remains at record levels as well.
Last year, the Tide earned their second straight Super Bowl title with a 13-0 season and their 25th straight victory. Over his twenty-year tenure, the victory was the ninth title earned by the Tide under Head Coach John DiBiaso. Through his leadership, Everett has won five titles in the last decade alone.
As it would be their last game together, this year’s Super Bowl was an emotional one for DiBiaso and his son, the record-setting senior quarterback of the Tide.
In 2011, Jonathan put the team in the state’s record books once again, setting a new record of 44 touchdown passes in a single season in addition to both a new state record of 103 career touchdowns and 7,052 career passing yards.
Following his successful leadership of the Tide last year, ESPNBoston.com named the quarterback “Mr. Football”. The inaugural award was also given to a member of the Tide in 2010, former wide receiver Matt Costello.
Despite dominant leadership by the DiBiaso’s on these two fronts for the last four years, it’s clear that the Tide is not about one or two people. It’s about the thousands of young men that have worked cooperatively over the Tide’s history, dating back nearly one hundred years.
While so many across the nation no longer look at New England for producing outstanding football, Everett’s remarkable team from 1914 established the Tide as one of the nation’s greatest high school teams of all time. The team went 13-0, shutting out every single one of its opponents and outscoring by an astronomical margin, 600-0.
On November 29, Everett played a team for the national championship. More than 2,000 gathered to hear about the team’s progress by way of telegraph at Everett’s central firehouse while 6,000 fans of the hometown team of Oak Park, Illinois attended the game. After just the first quarter, the Crimson Tide was up 32-0, eventually outscoring their opponents 80-0.
Yet, when I think about the success of the Everett Crimson Tide, I actually don’t think about football at all. I think back to a speech I heard given by Head Coach DiBiaso in 2009 when he received an award at an annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. breakfast for his dedication and commitment to the youth of Everett.
The normally reserved DiBiaso spoke quite poignantly about the importance of Everett and the Tide’s unique history. He discussed how the city had always brought together people of different origins, cultures, and religions. Residents and players had challenged injustice, and stood up to take speak out like Dr. Martin Luther King. He discussed how he wish to expose the bigotry that still continues to exist today, recalling remarks posted on local blogs blasting immigrants in the city and their inclusion in the city’s football program.
“First and foremost, I consider myself a teacher,” DiBiaso said after receiving the award. “Over my time, I have seen many students and families that have come to this city searching for something better.
“Like Dr. King, I’m not preaching hatred or violence,” said Coach DiBiaso in his discussion of crude postings about immigrants on blogs. “I want to expose them and maybe that way we will begin to educate them.”
After seeing such success this season, the DiBiaso family and the Everett Crimson Tide had to dodge the piercing arrows of criticism and jealousy fired from the field, the stands, or online in a world of anonymity.
DiBiaso and the Tide have long understood that Everett has changed. Whether you live, go to school, or work here, its clear that a new melting pot has emerged in this gateway community. While many feared a broadened diversity over the last two decades, it certainly has had a positive impact in a sport that requires cohesiveness.
Caucasian. Haitian. Brazilian. They battle on the field every week in the fall, bringing continued glory to the team’s history while bolstering pride among its residents, city leaders, and school officials.
While it may be hard to stay on top, the Everett Crimson Tide has always been and will always remain a force to be reckoned with.