EVERETT, Mass. -- The calm before the storm could mean the obvious reference to Hurricane Irene’s pending arrival along the Northeast shores, but in Everett, the first scrimmage of the season marks the day before every Division 1A team in the state will be gunning for the perennial No. 1 squad in the state.
The Crimson Tide kicked off the season with their annual scrimmage against Lynn English and, while each team looked rusty at times, it was the ESPN Boston preseason top-ranked program that was sharp on offense.
Dressed in their practice reds, pre-season All-State quarterback selection Jonathan DiBiaso looked ready to play tomorrow, but it was Joey White, filling in for injured tailback Vondell Langston with the first-team offense, that opened some eyes. White was great up the middle and on a quick sweep in the first series and took his third carry through the Bulldogs defense breaking three blocks downfield to score on Everett’s first series
“Joey ran the ball hard, he’s a tough runner, we had a couple of guys nicked up, but (White) did a real good job for us out there," DiBiaso said.
The offense moved the ball into the end zone on each of their first four possessions as the vaunted passing attack didn’t seem to miss a beat from last season’s Super Bowl victory but DiBiaso knows championships are won on the other side of the ball as well.
“It’s the first scrimmage so there were a lot of mistakes (on defense),” said DiBiaso. “We saw some good things and saw some things we definitely have to improve upon. Overall our condition has to get better but we have a couple of weeks to fix that and be ready for the first game so I’m a little disappointed but hopefully we fix them by next week and we are ready for Leominster.”
The major bright spot for Lynn English looked to be their offensive line, led by senior captain Mike Dwyer right in the middle as the center. Dwyer, who also plays as middle linebacker in head coach P.J. Holey’s defense, along with the front line were able to move the ball in the spread offense easily early on in the scrimmage.
In fact, quarterback Jimmy Kelly was efficient moving the ball in the spread offense out of the shotgun against the Crimson Tide defense before running into the usual mishaps – dropped balls and missed assignments. But Holey was happy with how his team played being only the third time the Bulldogs have strapped on the pads.
“The things we were looking for [yesterday] were did we play physical, did we play aggressive, and were we athletic. We certainly found that out today,” said Holey, when asked if his expectations were met in against the No. 1 team in the state. “Everett has the best quarterback that I’ve seen in quite some time so we have a lot of work to do and we can build off this, but we need to run the ball 60-70 percent of the time on offense as that is our strength and we have to run the ball effectively.”
Kelley did run into some coverage problems downfield the remainder of the day and running through the second line of Everett’s defense proved fruitless as the day wore on and the temperatures and humidity rose.
“It’s all a matter of working hard the next couple of weeks and taking nothing for granted because we have a great big bulls-eye on our backs,” said DiBiaso.
Looks like Everett is picking up where they left off last season -- being the eye of the Division 1 football landscape in Massachusetts.
Kenny Calaj also did not play in the scrimmage and while Coach DiBiaso pointed to conditioning, he seemed a little worried about Calaj and Langston not being able to participate this close to the start of the season.