(VIDEO) 2016 MIAA Playoffs: McAfee Leads Everett to D1 North Final
By Nate Weitzer for Mass Prep Stars
BURLINGTON, Mass – For the second consecutive week, Everett got out in front early and dominated an elite opponent in a heated playoff game.
The Crimson Tide rolled No. 5 Haverhill, 35-6, in the first round of the Division 1 North bracket and this Saturday at Burlington High, they exacted their revenge on a Central Catholic team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year, as they pulled away early in a 43-18 victory.
“We call it a home invasion because we knew we’d have to win on the road,” junior wide receiver Anthony Norcia said about the Tide’s path to the D1 state semifinals. “The seeding was a little disrespectful, but we worked for this all summer long and even though we faced two great teams we knew no matter what that we would come out on top.”
Just as they did last Saturday, Everett opened this game with a fast-paced drive and leaned on workhorse running back Marvens Fedna (20 carries, 87 yards) on the way to an early 6-0 lead.
Then the defense and special teams came up huge by recovering a fumble, blocking a field goal attempt, and sacking Central Catholic quarterback Bret Edwards (10-of-18, 102 passing yards, 2 TDs) on fourth down with eleven seconds to play in the first half.
That’s when the Crimson Tide firmly seized the momentum.
Senior quarterback Jordan McAfee (6-of-10, 211 passing yards, 5 TDs) hit junior wide receiver Anthony Norcia (4 receptions, 137 yards, 3 TDs) across the middle for a short gain, but then Norcia flipped the ball to streaking teammate Jalil Martinez, who promptly burst past the defense for a 58-yard touchdown on a classic hook-and-latter play as the clock hit triple zeroes to designate the end of the first half.
Everett opened the second half in equally impressive fashion, as defensive end Gerell Boyce forced a fumble and linebacker Josh Miller returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to make it 37-6, as they would coast from there.
“We’ve been a good team all year,” asserted Everett head coach John DiBiaso. “We’re two plays away from being undefeated. Both our losses came down to the last play and the fact that we played a tough schedule is beneficial to us. Now we’re rolling at the right time and these kind of games don’t faze us too much.”
Stars Who Shined
Jordan McAfee ‘17 QB – Masterfully efficient once again, McAfee only completed one pass on the night that didn’t go for a touchdown.
He audibled at the line of scrimmage, ran read-option plays when necessary, and conducted an offensive game plan that is extremely sophisticated for the high school level.
McAfee to Norcia again, this time for a 35-yard TD and Everett is rolling up 23-0 on Central Catholic late Q2 pic.twitter.com/KA3xABkSN1— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) November 5, 2016
“It’s asking a lot for high school kids to run no huddle, and double-wing, and spread, and all the different formations we run, but they executed pretty well,” DiBiaso said. “[McAfee] was efficient and really did all we could ask of him.”
Anthony Norcia ‘18 WR – Norcia made a couple of great plays on deep throws for touchdowns of 48 and 35 yards in the second quarter.
He would tack on a 37-yard score in the third quarter by running a sharp comeback route and breaking a tackle, but the highlight of his night did not necessarily come on one of his touchdowns.
Everett goes right down the field on opening drive and McAfee hits Maitre for a 30-yard TD. 7-0 Tide early Q1 pic.twitter.com/9dczyQQX5U— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) November 5, 2016
“We call it speedy express,” Norcia said about the successful hook-and-latter on the final play of the first half. “It went well at practice and we used it at the right time and executed it. Dib[iaso] loves his trick plays and we love to run them.”
His coach also took time to credit Norcia for his part in the ruse.
“I thought the kids did a great job of running that play,” DiBiaso recognized. “McAfee made a great throw and Norcia held it until the last possible second to draw everyone towards him, then Martinez did the rest with his speed.”
Simple comeback route, broken tackle and Norcia has his third TD of the night (4th for McAfee). All Everett up 43-12 over CC late Q3 pic.twitter.com/IbrxDBkVc1— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) November 5, 2016
Robert Fialli ‘17 LB – Everett’s defense was stifling as well in another tough matchup. The speed of that unit was on full display, and Fialli led the team in tackles with six on the evening.
The senior also added a sack and a blocked the Raiders’ 34-yard field goal attempt towards the end of the first quarter to keep Central Catholic off the board.
Marvens Fedna ‘17 RB – While he didn’t find the end zone in this contest, Fedna took on an even heavier workload with backfield mate Charles Jenkins inactive in this semifinal.
Fedna carried 12 times for 51 yards in the first quarter alone and his ability to consistently churn out yardage and earn first downs softened up the defense for McAfee’s deep strikes down the field.
“I give the whole offense and defense an A-plus for today,” McAfee said. “They made my job so much easier by getting yards on the ground and keeping us in good position.”
Josh Miller ‘18 LB – Standing 6-foot-2, Miller is taller than most linebackers, but he was able to use that length to cause problems while pressuring Edwards all night.
Josh Miller/Duval Paul chase Edwards back about 30 yards on 4th down to end threat. Then Everett hits a 58-yard TD on a hook and ladder pic.twitter.com/B9nCXXqeE5— Nate Weitzer (@nweitzer7) November 5, 2016
He also recorded a sack and several key tackles, while he was “Johnny On the Spot” on a key fumble return for a touchdown to put the game beyond all doubt in the third quarter.
Duane Binns ‘18 LB – All of Everett’s linebackers deserve credit for their relentless pursuit and playmaking ability, as they coughed up a 38-yard run to Max Faro on the Raiders first possession, but otherwise held Central Catholic to a meager 37 rushing yards on 12 attempts throughout the rest of the first half.
Binns logged five tackles, including one for a loss, added a sack, and recovered a fumble on special teams to set up Everett’s second score of the game, a 35-yard field goal from Gabriel DeSouza.
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