Charlie Comella (15) locks onto Everett's Robby Riobe (8). Photos by Mike Flanagan.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Entering the season as one of the favorites to win the Catholic Conference and the Division I Super Bowl, No. 3 Xaverian hosted No. 4 Everett on Friday night in a colossal showdown to open the 2021 high school football season.
Senior Jake Gilbert took over the reigns under center for the Hawks following the graduation of three-year starter Mike Berluti last May. The Crimson Tide received the game’s opening kickoff but were forced to punt, thanks to a critical tackle-for-loss by junior linebacker Cole Jette on Everett running back Moses Seide on third-and-one. Gilbert then led the Xaverian offense on an eight-play, 64-yard drive, complimented by several long and powerful runs by senior captain and running back Joe Kelcourse. Everett’s defense hung tough along its own goal line and forced the Hawks to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Oliver Waddleton, giving Xaverian a 3-0 lead with 4:39 to play in the opening quarter.
On the third play of Everett’s ensuing possession, quarterback Karmarri Ellerbe connected with BC-committed receiver Ismael Zamor for a 56-yard touchdown to give the Crimson Tide its first lead of the game at 7-3. Despite Xaverian’s offense starting three consecutive possessions in plus territory throughout the remainder of the first half, Everett’s defense held Gilbert and company in check. At halftime, the Crimson Tide still led 7-3.
With both offenses struggling, the game remained 7-3 until 43 seconds to play in the third quarter when Ellerbe connected with Seide for an 80-yard touchdown, pushing the lead to 13-3. Xaverian was able to block the extra point try, which would later prove pivotal.
Following an interception by Zamor on the first play of the fourth quarter, Xaverian’s defense forced a punt to give Gilbert a shot at cutting into the deficit. Gilbert responded to the interception by leading a nine-play, 69-yard drive, capped by a one-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak, trimming the deficit down to 13-10 with 4:48 to play.
Xaverian’s defense again rose up on Everett’s ensuing possession, stuffing Ellerbe on a read-option on third-and-short to force a punt, giving the Hawks the ball back with 1:38 to play but with no timeouts. On the first play of the series, Gilbert broke from the pocket and connected with a wide open Charlie Comella for a 49-yard catch-and-run down to the Everett 22-yard line. Gilbert rushed to the line of scrimmage and spiked the ball with 1:08 to play. Gilbert then hooked up with senior wideout Carlo Crocetti for a first down, followed by another spike with 43 seconds to play. Gilbert took two shots at the end zone that went incomplete before settling for a 28-yard field goal by Waddleton to tie the game at 13 with 23 seconds to play, forcing overtime.
Everett won the coin toss for overtime and elected to play defense first. Gilbert connected with Crocetti on first down, a drag route for an eight-yard gain down to the two-yard line, followed by a two-yard touchdown run by Kelcourse to give the Hawks a 19-13 lead. With the Hawks forced to go for two, Everett’s defense stuffed Kelcourse in the backfield on a pitch play to keep the deficit at six.
Back-to-back five-yard rushes by Cam Mohamed out of the wildcat formation got Everett into the end zone to tie the game at 19. The Crimson Tide ran the same exact play on their two-point conversion, as Mohamed dashed through a hole and leapt into the end zone for the game-winning score, giving Everett the 21-19 victory.
For funny and incisive sports analysis as well as video highlights of games, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter