Boston High School: Anthony Fodera

Bourque wins it, Covitz seals it for Reading

December, 1, 2010

READING, Mass. -- Almost as soon as the Dracut defense was called for an offsides on the would-be game-tying point after, it seemed, did Reading head coach John Fiore want a timeout. Four minutes left, down by one but now with the ball at the one, Rockets offensive coordinator Duane Sigsbury drew up a Tebow-like play that had everyone on the sideline feeling fired up.

"Let's go for it, can't second-guess it," said their 6-foot-4 senior quarterback Brian Bourque (he is a converted wideout, after all).

"Let's get these six inches and take it to Gillette," said senior right tackle Jeff Covitz.

Sigsbury called for a quarterback dive out of a goal-line shotgun formation with jumbo personnel, but rather than crouch low and try to fall forward, Bourque leaped high into the air and flopped into the end zone, sending the home-field crowd into a frenzy.

That still left Dracut with two more scoring chances, but in those final four minutes Covitz was relentless coming off the edge of the right-handed Matt Silva's front side. He recorded two sacks, including one on fourth down, to seal the 15-14 win, make it 25 straight victories for the Rockets, and send them back to Gillette Stadium to defend their Division 2 Super Bowl title against Hockomock League juggernaut Mansfield.

Fiore spoke only briefly to the media following the game, but with good intents. Draping his outstretched arms on the shoulders of his three captains -- Bourque, Covitz and Anthony Fodera -- he deferred all the credit to them and gave them the utmost praise.

"All summer long, these three guys leading everybody in the weight room, you know, doing their plyos, flipping the tires, working the 7-on-7's, playing sports together...this is just an awesome effort," Fiore beamed. "I'm so proud of them, so I'm going to let them talk, because this is their night."

And with the spotlight, Covitz deferred to late assistant coach Mike Boyd, who passed away at 29 in July of 2009 to lung cancer, and nearly a year and half later is still fresh on the team's mind. A plaque of Boyd, who won two Super Bowls during his time at Reading, still hangs in the team's locker room.

"He never quit," Covitz said, still catching his breath. "Up until the day he died, he never quit. I always think about Coach Boyd. Even when I'm exhausted, and just want to pass out right on the field, you never quit on this team. You never want to quit on your family. You never quit on coaches."

And to say the least, Covitz's shoulder was to the wheel those last four minutes, as the Middies (8-4) had two more chances to score and were stopped on both. Keith Hamel took a zone read handoff 55 yards down the right sideline on the first play of the drive following Bourque's leap, giving the Middies first and 10 at the Reading 25 with over three and a half minutes to play. But Silva was stuffed up the middle by Covitz, and watched as a perfect pass over the middle was bobbled incomplete to set up fourth and 15. Coming off the edge of Silva's front side, Covitz ripped the outside arm of his blocker and planted Silva in the turf with a textbook form tackle.

A three-and-out by Reading (12-0) gave Dracut the ball again with a minute to go and a starting drive at its own 41. After two incompletions, Silva was planted squarely in the turf again from Covitz in the same fashion. Silva then threw an incompletion on fourth.

"I've got to tip my hat to Silva," Covitz said. "Silva's an amazing player, quick in the pocket, we tried to contain him all night. I just made my way outside, and just found my way to the quarterback."

Silva, who came into the game as one of the leading scorers in Eastern Mass with 12 rushing touchdowns and 26 touchdown passes (22 to his favorite target Chris Malonis), showed throughout the game why he is one of region's the toughest quarterbacks to bring down. While on other nights it was throwing his 170-pound frame around like it was 250, on this night it was his scrambling ability when flushed out of the pocker that made him such a threat. He ended up with 82 yards passing and 92 rushing, with two touchdown passes -- both to Malonis.

The master stroke came with 4:03 left in the ballgame, when he slipped to his left and threw an off-balanced floater off his back foot as he was backpedaling away from the blitzing Troy Jones. Malonis came back to the near left pylon and, with his arms calmly oustretched by his waist, hauled in the underthrown ball and just managed to get both feet inbounds.

Bourque (129 yards passing, 67 rushing) came roaring back with a gutsy game-winning drive that was, quite frankly, all in his hands. His first four plays were all short strikes to Sean Gildea and Connor Sheehan, before calling his number three straight times. On third and one from the Dracut 29, Bourque tossed another short sideline strike to Gildea. Three plays later, Bourque capped the 11-play drive with an eight-yard scamper up the middle, setting up the heroics on the point-after.


DRA 0 7 0 7 --- 14
REA 7 0 0 8 --- 15

First Quarter
R - Larry Gilligan 37 run (Nick Scali kick) 7:19

Second Quarter
D - Chris Malonis 8 pass from Matt Silva (Silva kick) 5:50

Fourth Quarter
D - Malonis 17 pass from Silva (Silva kick) 8:40
R - Brian Bourque 7 run (Bourque kick) 4:03

No. 18 Reading focused on the now

September, 2, 2010
READING, Mass. -- Suffice it to say it might take a few years for Reading High to replicate its magnificent run through 2009. The Rockets put on quite the display on both sides of the ball, outscoring the opposition 441-101 in their 13-0 Super Bowl championship run, with talent like Stan Andre, Tino Perrina and James Collins leading the charges.

So how do you follow that up? Don't think about it -- "We only have to worry about Cambridge (in week one) right now," head coach John Fiore said -- but follow their lead.
Reading High School Football
Courtesy of Brendan Hall Senior tackle Jeff Covitz, a returning league all-star, will shore up an offensive line with some new faces.

And this year's bunch was certainly taking notes in the summer of 2009, when players routinely worked out twice a day and always stayed on the field as long as they can, getting their route running and timing down as much as they could before the sun set. Senior quarterback Brian Bourque, for one, isn't resting on his laurels.

"You could always find someone to throw with on the field (last season)," Bourque said. "So this past season, we tried to do the same thing. We had a great turnout in the weight room, but we just need to keep it going, see where the season lies."

Says senior right tackle Jeff Covitz, a returning Middlesex All-Star, "Nothing's handed to us around here. We've got to earn it. You've got to work hard to get there."

If the Rockets sound a little bit cliche these days, don't take it personally. That's just the M.O. around Reading these days -- one day at a time, one game at a time, with every day another chance to improve -- and they're determined to prove to the rest of the Middlesex League that there won't be any dramatic drop-off from the glory of '09.

"I think there's a tremendous amount of pride," Fiore said. "I guess here's the distinction...the kids have alot of pride, and they want to retain the championship level. But, we also have to do that by having a realistic set of goals we've got to meet along the way, and then if we take care of that business early and at each stage, and build each stage, we should end up successful in some measurement."

In Bourque, the Rockets stand a good chance of replicating some of that success. The senior is in his first season under center, running the spread, after all these years backing up the bulldozing Andre (now a freshman linebacker at UMass). The rangy, 6-foot-4 Bourque played a key role in last year's offense as a wide receiver and defensive back, and he's still got the zip around the corner to complement a surprisingly fluid and tight throwing ability. Not only can he find his spots, he can turn a loss into a first down with his speed around the edges.

"He'll run between the tackles, but we'll put him out on the edge, too," Fiore said.

13-0 (9-0 Middlesex), won Division 2 Super Bowl
Coach: John Fiore (seventh year, 43-24 overall)
Players to watch: Jeff Covitz, Sr., OL/DL, 6-2, 253 lbs; Brian Bourque, Sr., QB/CB, 6-4, 177 lbs; Sean Gildea, Sr., WR/SS, 6-1, 195 lbs; Nick Scali, Sr., WR/S, 5-9, 164 lbs; Anthony Fodera, Sr., OL/DL, 5-10, 224 lbs; Zack Bates, Jr., RB/LB, 5-6, 183 lbs; Brian Kelly, Sr., TE/DL, 5-11, 192 lbs.
Strengths: Skill position players, team speed.
Weaknesses: Inexperience at offensive and defensive lines.
Outlook: The Rockets figure to slow down a bit after graduating one its most prolific offenses in years, but the philosophy remains the same. Whereas the bullish Stan Andre could get you five or six yards up the middle, newly-converted quarterback Brian Bourque is more of a classic dual-threat, able to put a soft touch on throws underneath and scramble around the corner when pressured. There's new faces in the trenches, but Fodera and Middlesex all-star Covitz are still anchoring the right side of the line and should be efficient once again. Defensively, the Rockets will remain an even front, but once again with all the new faces they will look to dictate with speed.