EVERETT, Mass. -- From kicking as a freshman in Gillette Stadium three years ago, to taking the reins of quarterback three weeks ago due to injuries (with no prior experience, by the way), Gilly De Souza has been the quintessential jack-of-all-trades in an Everett program that typically flourishes with versatility.
But there has to be some sort of irony identified here for the way he essentially sealed the No. 1 Crimson Tide's 19-7 win over No. 2 St. John's Prep today before an over-capacity Homecoming crowd at Everett Memorial Stadium. For all of the plays he's made at quarterback, running back, receiver, cornerback and safety, it was his for once his forte -- kicking -- that drove the stake and twisted it.
Holding a 12-7 lead and facing 4th and 6 from his own 44-yard line, De Souza angled his hips towards the Everett (3-0) sideline as he took the snap for a punt, then watched as the ball he booted took a few favorable bounces and rolled out of bounds for a perfectly-placed, 52-yard coffin corner punt. If the Eagles (2-1) were to put together a game-winning drive, they were going to have to march 96 yards in 2:22.
Prep opened the ensuing drive with two dives to Jonathan Thomas (19 carries, 101 yards), then quarterback Jack Sharrio threw an incomplete pass to the sticks on fourth down for a turnover on downs for a drive that gained just three yards. On the first play of the next Everett drive, receiver Jalen Felix (12 carries, 96 yards) plunged through the left side on a sweep to make it 19-7 with 1:26 to go.
"Ever since I was younger, working out with Igor [Garcia] and John Ramboli, he said if you are at least at the 40 or 45, and you've got two minutes left, you've got to pin them," De Souza said. "I saw [Prep's] Gerald [Kahari] in the middle, and a grand opening to the right, so I just tried to push it the best I can and to the right."
Said Everett head coach John DiBiaso, "He can do everything. He's just a football player."
There also has to be some sort of statistic for De Souza's remarkable efficiency so far. Last week in the Tide's win over Springfield Central, he completed just six passes but four of them went for touchdowns. This week he was just 6-of-9 for 84 yards, but swung the momentum in Everett's favor for good in the third quarter with a 41-yard strike down the left sideline to Jakarrie Washington (four catches, 74 yards), running a fly route in single-coverage.
The ensuing three plays were all sweeps to Kenny Calaj, and the senior running back scored his first touchdown of the 2012 season on the third carry, a nine-yard scamper that made it 12-7.
"We have a lot of confidence in Jakarrie, especially with his speed," De Souza said. "We had all the confidence in the world that he would beat him one-on-one, and if the defender's a little behind him, coach always says to let it go, let him run under it. So I did. I tried to put my best arm into it, the ball got there, he ran under it and we got the completed pass."
Indecision, and an interception: One of the biggest turning points for Prep came at the end of the second quarter, after Sharrio hit Alex Moore on a 15-yard slant over the middle to set up first and goal at the Everett 1 with 10 seconds to go. The Eagles were then flagged for an illegal procedure trying to spike the ball, and then head coach Jim O'Leary was forced to call a timeout to avoid a 10-second run-off. In the timeout he initially left his offense in, then brought in the field goal unit, then changed his mind and put the regular offense back in.
When they finally did snap the ball, Everett's Lubern Figaro came up with an interception in the end zone for a touchback. Instead of a 10-6, 13-6 or even 14-6 lead, Prep now headed into the half with a 7-6 lead but Everett gaining momentum.
Allow O'Leary to explain:
"I think what happened is we were going to kick a field goal, and then they told me if we take the timeout we avoid the 10-second run-off, so I had to take a timeout there," he said. "And so now we're in a situation with nine seconds left that you come out, look, peek it over and you spike it. And we get the penalty. It had to do with the 10-second run-off at the end, because of the penalty on the procedure...If that didn't happen, we would have just attempted a field goal there."
Foiled by penalties: The game was sprinkled with some forgettable penalties by both sides, but arguably none more crucial than the block below the waist called on Michael Fawehinimi's 45-yard interception return to the house. Instead of taking a 13-12 or 14-12 lead, Prep took the ball at the Everett 25, then watched as Sharrio was sacked by Everett's Omar Graciano on fourth down.
Old school: We've jokingly characterized Everett's offense as the "Spartacus Offense", after DiBiaso's quip to ESPNBoston.com earlier this week, in which he rattled off the names of all of his skill players when asked who would be quarterback this week. But as the weeks grow on, DiBiaso continues to add wrinkles from all areas of the spectrum.
Once again, the Tide went heavy on the zone read plays, with "Wildcat" packages mixed in. But they also went to the "Single Wing" well with some swinging gate plays, showing some very unbalanced formations with extra linemen to one side. Some of the single wing packages they showed put as many as eight offensive linemen on the field.
The biggest beneficiary to this strategy was Felix, who ran for 96 yards on 12 carries and had the highlight-reel play of the day, hurdling a would-be Prep tackler on a sweep to the near sideline.
This kind of diversity is nothing new. In all the years that I have been covering Everett, I've seen them run everything -- the I formation, the double wing, the run-and-shoot, even the famed "Notre Dame Box" formation straight out of the Depression Era.
And for shicks and giggles, De Souza simply smiled, "We'll find out Monday, who knows?" when asked what position he will be playing this Friday when the Tide hosts No. 4 Barnstable.
EVERETT 19, ST. JOHN'S PREP 7
SJP 7 0 0 0 --- 7
EHS 6 0 6 7 --- 19
E - Jakarrie Washington 1 run (pass failed) 4:32
S - Alex Moore 9 pass from Jack Sharrio (Alex Soucy kick) 1:38
E - Kenny Calaj 9 run (rush failed) 3:32
E - Jalen Felix 7 run (Gilly De Souza kick) 1:36