Key play of the Super Bowl: With Reading trailing 7-6 in the first quarter, senior back Alex Valente (8 rushes, 161 yards) bolted for a 99-yard score to give the Rockets a 14-7 lead.
“We felt if we could block that play up, he’d get a big gain and he turned it into something tremendous,” Fiore said.
Unsung hero: In the third quarter Saturday, sophomore wide receiver Chris Godwin secured a pass in the end zone from Belcher, which had tipped off the hands of Valente, to give Reading a 21-7 lead against Mansfield.
Stat check: The Reading D allowed just 5 points per game this season, registered five shutouts, and didn’t allow a touchdown until Week 5 against Burlington. In the Super Bowl, senior Jared Barros returned a 75-yard pick-six for the final score.
Coach Fiore: “I just can’t say enough about how well our program played,” he said. “I’m really proud of the kids and our coaching staff. It’s been awesome to cap the season 13-0.”
The Rockets are graduating 17 seniors, but a strong junior class is returning, highlighted by Belcher, running back Liam Kenneally , and linemen Jimmy King and Andrew Bourque
EMass Division 2A
Beverly 28, Natick 21
Defining moment of the season: On Oct. 12, Beverly trailed Cape Ann/Northeastern (Div. 1) champion Masconomet 14-10 in the third quarter, but the Panthers scored three straight times to take a 30-14 win.
“That was one of the true tests we had,” coach Dan Bauer said. “That second half showed a lot about our team.”
Key play of the Super Bowl: As Beverly clung to a 14-7 late in the second quarter, Natick QB Troy Flutie fired a pass into the end zone, but Brendan Flaherty knocked the pass down to derail the scoring attempt.
Unsung hero: All great rushing teams have two things in common — great running backs, and a bulldozing offensive line. Behind seniors Mike Dooling , Kevin Kennedy , Marc Babcock , Brian Perry, and junior Zac Duguid , Brendan Flaherty and Kenny Pierce combined to score 41 touchdowns.
In the Super Bowl, all of Beverly’s 347 yards came on the ground.
“We’re fortunate to have great running backs, but without the line, nothing happens,” Bauer said.
Dooling added, “We were just doing what the coaches taught us to do. It all comes back to the 6 a.m. conditioning we do over the summer. The coaches pushed us and said it will pay off, and they were right.”
Stat check: Behind a monstrous rushing attack, Beverly averaged 36.2 points per game, and scored 40 points four times this season, outscoring foes, 471-137.
Coach Bauer: “It was an unbelievable season,” Bauer said. “And a historical one at that. To be able to go undefeated and win the Super Bowl was great for our school and the community. We’re right there with the greatest teams [in school history].”
The future: Bauer will lose 26 seniors, but he admitted this year’s victory — the second title in three years — will help the program move forward.
“Having a season like this adds a lot of excitement in our school program, and the youth football,” Bauer said.
“This group of seniors was cultivated in the youth football program and that has been very positive. The expectations are high, and hopefully we pick up where we left off.”
Anthony Gulizia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.