EVERETT — On an afternoon of violent collisions, highlight-reel hits and physical hand-to-hand scuffles in the trenches, one hit rang most loudly for Central Catholic. It was the hit that made Raiders believe.
Down 7-0 at the half, Central knew it could play with Everett. But beat them?
Not until Markus Edmunds rocked Everett QB Lukas Denis in the third, separating him from the football and getting the Raiders in business at the Crimson Tide 10.
That confidence, a fierce defense and ultimately just enough offense powered Central Catholic to one of its great wins in program history, 20-15, here at Everett Veterans Memorial Stadium in the Division 1 North title game. Central will now play South champion Xaverian for the state title on Dec. 7 at Gillette Stadium.
“Markus was unbelievable on both sides of the ball all day. I’m glad for him, because people are getting a chance on a statewide level to see how good a football player he really is,” said Raider coach Chuck Adamopoulos. “And that hit was huge. Huge!”
Denis had just scooped up the snap that had soared wildly over his head. As he retreated Edmunds lowered the boom. The recovery and the ensuing 1-yard TD plunge by D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie was enlightening. Everett wasn’t unbeatable. And the Raiders went on to prove it with a handful of big plays.
It started on defense early, with big Joe Brown and Jorge Elias stuffing the Everett inside game. The Tide was held to only 135 yards on the ground, a season low.
Special teams did its job, too, for the Raiders, who blocked a pair of punts. And Dan Wilson’s 50-yard bomb of a punt that flew over the returner’s head and was ultimately fumbled away was a huge turning point, too.
Central had to make some plays on offense if the upset was to be completed, and the Raiders got it done late.
Knotted at 7-7, Central took a late third-quarter lead on Mike Milano’s 60-yard TD sprint. Everett answered though, and when veteran sideline genius John DiBiaso ran the swinging gate to perfection, the champs were up 15-14 sinking into the deepest minutes of the final quarter.
“We never lost that confidence, though,” said senior D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie. “We came back and hung with it.”
Central turned the field on a 56-yard screen from Mike Milano to Edmunds. The Raiders couldn’t punch it in, losing a fumble inside the Everett 10. But the defense had one stop left to make — and got it done — setting up the final heroics from Milano and Cody Demers, A 23-yard TD pass that sent the place into state hysteria.
The Raiders needed one final stand and got it as time expired on the former champs at midfield.
“That’s one heck of a team, and to come in here and beat them was really special,” said Demers, who capped his day by breaking up a pair of Tide bombs in that last possession.
Now, it’s up to Adamopoulos to make the tough decision as his Super Bowl-bound Raiders face Andover in the meantime on Thanksgiving morning at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.
Does Adamopoulos play the starters against Andover?
The coach wasn’t ready to answer, but hinted it was going to be pretty tough not to play his guys against Andover. Andover is Andover, it’s a heated rival, one the Central folks don’t like losing to.
Milano made a pretty solid point.
“We want to be out there. Nobody wants to go three weeks without playing and then go out and play in the Super Bowl. It’s up to the coaches, but we have to play some.”
Demers and Drummond-Mayrie, each a captain, noted it was up to the coach, but both said they want to be in there and face Andover.
“You can get hurt practicing,” said Adamopoulos, hinting that the big boys will buckle it up on Turkey Day.
Central Catholic 20, Everett 15
Division 1 North final
Central Catholic (9-1): 0 0 14 6 — 20
Everett (8-2): 0 7 0 8 — 15
E — Marquis Colman 1 run (kick good), 6:06
CC — D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie 1 run (Paul Karamourtopoulos kick), 3:29
CC — Mike Milano 60 run (Karamourtopoulos kick), :43
E — Colman 2 run (James Hunt rush), 7:12
CC — Cody Demers 23 pass from Mike Milano (pass failed), 2:10
RUSHING: CC — Mike Balsamo 4-(-6), Drummond-Mayrie 6-1, Milano 7-78, Markus Edmunds 3-3
PASSING: CC — Milano 9-16-1, 147
RECEIVERING — CC — Cody Demers 6-78, Ryan Etter 1-8, Karamourtopouls 1-5, Edmunds 1-5