Burlington will face Reading in battle of unbeatens
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It’ll be a clash of two undefeated Middlesex League powerhouses Friday night in Reading.
No. 15-ranked Burlington, which has scored 142 points in four games this season, is led by the talented Marcus Odiah.
The nationally-recruited running back has broken Jake Daigle’s (class of 2005) school rushing record and leads Division 2 in scoring with 11 touchdowns. He opened the season with a 302-yard effort against Billerica and has more than 3,300 career yards.
“He’s an outstanding young man — great kid with outstanding work ethic,” said Burlington coach Shawn McGuire. “He’s been starting for four years so we rely on him a lot. He’s one of the best backs in the state.”
Rockets coach John Fiore knows that slowing Odiah down might be nearly impossible but he hopes his defense will be able to stop him a few times and limit his production.
However, the challenge goes both ways. Odiah will face his toughest obstacle of the season against a Reading defense that has not been scored on once this year. The only points they’ve allowed as a team was in their first game of the season, a 46-2 win over Lawrence, in which the Lancers blocked and returned an extra point attempt.
Since then, it’s been three consecutive shutouts.
“Reading has certainly been in a class by themselves in the last couple years. We certainly have our work cut out for us,” McGuire said. “They’re one of biggest, strongest teams in the league, that’s the reason people don’t score against them.”
While their aggressive defense stands out, the fifth-ranked Rockets have also been effective on offense. Junior quarterback Drew Belcher leads Division 2 in touchdown passes with 10 this season. Yet, despite his great year thus far, it’s all about the group for Reading football which follows the motto “we play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back.”
“It’s not about one individual, it’s a team effort — everyone is working their tails off,” said Fiore, whose team beat Burlington, 32-27 last year. “Our offensive line is getting healthy again and we have all hands on deck.”
Reading has outscored its opponents 116-2 this season which Fiore says has been a great learning experience, but he isn’t putting too much emphasis on being undefeated.
Neither is Burlington.
“We’ve only played four games this year, undefeated or defeated doesn’t mean too much right now,” said McGuire. “We did get off to a good start and that’s always encouraging, but there are huge opportunities to get better in every aspect of the game and that’s what we’re going to try to do this Friday.”
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After ending Everett’s winning streak last week, top-ranked Barnstable (4-0) will host New Bedford (2-2) Friday . . . Everett (3-1) will start its Greater Boston League schedule Friday at Cambridge (2-2) . . . Duxbury (4-0) will look to extend its state-high winning streak to 31 games Saturday afternoon against Xaverian (1-3) . . . Bridgewater-Raynham (3-1) will host fourth-ranked St. John’s Prep (3-1) Saturday.