MANSFIELD — It's football, but every Everett contest seems more like a game of catch me if you can.
Friday night, Mansfield could not run with the fleet of Crimson Tide speedsters, and after just two weeks of MIAA play, the question becomes, who can?
With the likes of Virginia Tech verbal commit Mike Sainristil leading the way, Everett turned around an early deficit and rolled to a 41-14 win.
Sainristil was sublime. He caught three passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns, made three interceptions, one that would have been an 80-yard pick-six but was called back on a penalty, and converted a fourth down in the third quarter on a low snap on a punt.
The latter makes for the second week in a row Sainristil has done that, and Mansfield (1-1) coach Mike Redding said his team was ready for it, but that the Everett superstar was just too good.
Sainristil had a funny response to how the play came about.
"Honestly, before that punt, in my head, I was going to go to the snapper, snap it low on purpose," he said. "But I can't really tell him to do that on purpose. I saw it, I told the coach, let me go, let me run for it. And he was like, just kick it. He snapped it low, and I was like, this is what I needed. I got the first."
Everett quarterback Duke Doherty completed 10-of-18 passes for 211 yards and four touchdowns and also rushed for another. Running back Isaac Seide had a quiet first half, then finished with 79 yards on 12 carries. Seide also had a 74-yard touchdown run called back. For the game, the Crimson Tide had three touchdowns called back on penalties.
"I call them hometown calls," Everett coach Theluxon Pierre said. "Like I said, we came to a hostile environment, all we cared about was the 'W." We got that, and now it's time to move on."
When one reporter asked about the penalties, Pierre asked, "Where were we last week?"
"Where were we this week?"
"OK," Pierre said, laughing. "OK. Does that answer the question?"
The officiating indeed bring about questions from both coaching staffs, but Mansfield earned its hot start in the first quarter. The Hornets mostly played the run well all night, with a big effort from junior linebacker/running back Vinnie Holmes, who also rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Mansfield forced a three-and-out to start the game, then drove 66 yards on 10 plays and punched in a 3-yard touchdown by junior Nick Marciano.
Everett went nowhere again on its next drive, and it felt a little like an upset could be possible.
That feeling did not last long.
With golden field position at the Mansfield 33-yard line, Doherty hit Sainristil for a 23-yard gain, and three plays later the sophomore quarterback snuck in from 2 yards out to even it up with 2:20 to go in the first quarter.
Sainristil then made his first interception of the game early in the second quarter, and Doherty completed two passes, the second to sophomore Tyrese Baptiste for a 37-yard touchdown along the Everett sideline.
It was just the beginning in another solid performance for Doherty, making just his second varsity start.
"He's young, but I tell him to just trust himself," Sainristil said. "Just trust that we'll make plays as receivers, because that's what we're supposed to do. Just put the ball in our radius and we'll make a play for you."
And they made plenty of plays. Redding said the plan was to double-cover Sainristil on the next Everett touchdown, where Doherty found the receiver for a 51-yarder over the middle.
Redding also said the defense was supposed to double Sainristil late in the half when Doherty hit him for a 36-yard score. On that play, Sainristil turned a short pass into a touchdown by shaking some Mansfield defenders out of their shoes and sprinting into the end zone at warp speed.
"You know (Sainristil)'s my special guy," Pierre said. "Mikey, Isaac, Tyrese — the whole receiving crew was good, and the o-line dominated today."
To top off the half, Sainrstil intercepted a Hail Mary by Mansfield quarterback Damani Scott to send the Crimson Tide into the break, 27-7, and thoughts of the early Mansfield score were long gone.
"That's football. Football's not won in the first quarter," Pierre said. "Football is, they might punch first, you've got to respond. It's who can land the last punch. Today we did that."
Everett extended its lead in the third quarter when Doherty hit Eli Auguste for a 10-yard touchdown.
Mansfield backup quarterback, junior Jack Moussette, led a touchdown drive to start the fourth that culminated in a Holmes rush from a yard out to cut the Everett lead to 34-14.
The Tide applied the final blow when junior Jaden Mahabir scored from a yard out with 1:50 left to play.
Redding had high praise for the Crimson Tide, who are 2-0 heading into their first home game of the season next week against another 2-0 team, St. John's Prep.
"These guys are like the best out-of-state teams that we’ve played," Redding said of Everett. "We played Calvert Hall of Maryland, St. Ed’s of Ohio, Stepinac of New York. This is what we see, like skill everywhere. And (Sainristil) is just sneaky fast. He’s so smooth, and he’s got nice little moves. But we just, typically, don’t see this collection of size and skill in Mass. on one team. This is like a Shriners Game team. But we’ve seen this, but it’s been all out-of-state private schools that recruit kids, and this is a public high school in Mass. that has got a collection of some serious athletes."