Drop has Everett up in arms

By Mike Carraggi
Globe Correspondent / October 31, 2010

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For years, Everett football has been a dominant presence in the Greater Boston League with a commanding influence on league decisions as well. Now, the other members of the GBL are making their voices heard.

Last Tuesday the MIAA Football Committee voted to realign Eastern Massachusetts leagues starting next fall. Everett and the GBL (including Cambridge, Malden, Somerville, and Medford) will drop from Division 1 to Division 1A. The Crimson Tide and their followers aren’t happy.

“Naturally I’m disappointed,’’ said Everett coach and athletic director John DiBiaso. “Our record speaks for itself in Division 1. I don’t see any need to move down.’’

The once-proud league voted against appealing the move, 3-2, with Everett and Medford in opposition. Since 2005, the GBL has lost Arlington (to the Dual County League), Revere (Northeastern), Waltham (DCL), and Peabody (NEC) — a mass exodus that coincides with Everett’s current 53-game win streak against GBL opponents.

Leagues are generally aligned based on the average male enrollment of the member schools, a formula that places the GBL sixth among current conferences. A 2006 motion to move the GBL was unanimously voted against, 8-0, by then members.

According to Malden athletic director Dan Keefe, it’s time the rules are strictly adhered to.

“If you are being consistent across EMass based on enrollment then that’s where we belong, period,’’ said Keefe, a member of the five-person sub-committee appointed with realigning leagues based on enrollment. The GBL’s average male enrollment is 805.

“We strictly based this on numbers,’’ he stated. “Nothing else.’’

Malden, Cambridge, and Somerville voted to drop a division in the belief that, should they break Everett’s stranglehold on the title, they would face a school of comparable size in the playoffs. Right now the GBL champ could face the Catholic Conference winner, where BC High has more than 1,300 boys, or the Big Three, where Brockton boasts close to 2,400.

Keefe has said that the GBL is being, “painted with one brush, the Everett brush,’’ and that the opinions of the four other teams matter just as much.

“We all hold on to the glimmer of hope that if we knocked (Everett) off and qualified for the playoffs . . . we would prefer to play schools that are our size,’’ he said.

DiBiaso believes teams should focus on improving themselves instead of lowering the standard of competition.

“Society today, and it’s not just in high school athletics . . . too many people begrudge what someone else is doing or achieving rather than looking in the mirror at their own shortcomings,’’ he said. “To blame what is going wrong on somebody else seems to be the ‘in’ thing to do.’’

Everett has been the envy — and more recently the ire — of competing schools since soon after DiBiaso’s arrival in 1992. Since then, the Tide is 180-20 and has won the GBL championship annually since 1995. This fall Everett is 7-0 and ranked No. 1 in the Globe’s Top 20.

The 24-time Super Bowl champions haven’t lost to Medford or Malden since 1991 or Somerville since 1987. The last time they lost a GBL game was Thanksgiving 2001 against Cambridge, which recently and abruptly cancelled the Thanksgiving Day matchup.

Many in Everett see the move down as a jilt to the Crimson Tide.

“I think the hypocrisy of it is that Everett right now is at a crest and is doing well,’’ said Everett Superintendent of Schools Frederick Foresteire. “That doesn’t mean that Malden, Somerville, Medford, Cambridge won’t do it in a couple of years down the line.

“These teams still went to the Super Bowl when we weren’t going anywhere. Where’s the sportsmanship?’’

As a former assistant at Everett and a current head coach at Medford, Rico Dello Iacono has been on both sides of the Tide’s dominance. The Mustangs were the only other team to vote with Everett.

“You want to be the big fish in a little pond, but what you’re not realizing is you’re still going to be the same-sized fish in a similar-sized pond (in Division 1A),’’ said Dello Iacono before his team lost to Everett, 42-0, Friday night.

A possible solution is for Everett to leave the GBL and move elsewhere. But DiBiaso does not want to make unnecessary changes that will affect other sports at his school.

The GBL has attempted to merge with other leagues in recent years, but they have constantly been rebuked. The Merrimack Valley Conference, Northeastern Conference, and Middlesex League have not shown interest in cooperating with the struggling league.

DiBiaso refutes the belief that the league is constantly rejected because of the Everett machine, but Malden principal and MIAA District B chairman Dana Brown says otherwise.

“I think [Everett football] has been the elephant in the room when the GBL has tried to get into other leagues,’’ said Brown. “We’ve had discussions with all those [leagues] and, sometimes stated and sometimes unstated, Everett football is the elephant in the room.’’

DiBiaso sees the tradition of having the opportunity to compete at the Division 1 level being thrown out because of a recent run of success that has always been cyclical.

“The years Cambridge was very good in basketball, we weren’t ducking them. The years Arlington was very good in hockey, we played them. The years when Peabody was very good in girls’ basketball, we played them.

“We haven’t ducked anybody or requested relief in any way. We’ve honored our commitments.’’