Everett's De Souza comes up big for 'Lili'

EVERETT, Mass. -- Within the Everett football program, kids find a variety of ways to express themselves, from the "44" written in eye blackener on the cheeks of quarterback Jonathan DiBiaso (in honor of injured captain Buck McCarthy); to the No. 3 frosted into the back of Jalen Felix's hair (his number); to the "#" and "1" written on the eye black strips of running back Vondell Langston (the message there is obvious).

But perhaps no message was more meaningful this afternoon than the one written on the eye black strips of defensive back Gilly De Souza: "R.I.P. Lili".

Lili is a cousin of De Souza, who died of a heart attack yesterday in her native Brazil, in her early 50's. It had been over a decade since De Souza last saw her, but the memories remained close. Lili was the godmother of De Souza's mother, too.

"When I heard, I didn't even know what to say," De Souza said. "It's a big game, my mother talked to me, 'I know what happened was bad, but just concentrate on the game'. I came out today to play for her.

"Just a great person overall. I can't believe I lost her."

De Souza responded by making one of the key plays of the game late in the second quarter, an interception of BC High's Bartley Regan in the right flat that was nearly returned to the house, but instead set up a Jonathan DiBiaso touchdown plunge to make it 28-7.

The intended receiver, the lanky but shifty Lincoln Collins, had burned the Everett secondary for a long catch off a hitch route on third down the previous series, and assistant coach Carlos Ruiz told De Souza to look for it again on third down. This time, De Souza jumped in front of Collins' route, and took the ball 65 yards up the sideline, getting pushed out at the BC High 8 with time winding down in the second quarter. Three plays later, Jonathan DiBiaso called his own number for a four-yard dive and 28-7 lead (De Souza kicks every extra point, by the way).

"I just wanted to put this game out for her," De Souza said. "Family is family."

Said DiBiaso, "Gilly's a great athlete, multi-sport player. He just makes plays. Whether it's reading eyes, he's a very smart kid, as an athlete he makes plays, and he made some today in crunch time."