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Reading 28, Stoneham 0

Little goes wrong for Reading — again

By Jeff Powalisz
Globe Correspondent / November 26, 2010

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STONEHAM — For a few weeks at least, John Fiore had stopped fooling himself and his team. His Rockets had clearly earned every accolade that came their way.

Reading had nearly completed its dirty work — the strenuous practices and demanding schedule — and there was little left to critique.

The adored coaching adage of “one game at a time’’ would have to be thrown aside. The defending Division 2 Super Bowl champion Rockets finished off the Middlesex League with a gaping lead, and set their sights on a second consecutive trip to the playoffs.

“It kind of goes against our philosophy,’’ Fiore said, “but sometimes you have to change that up, and I felt we had a mature enough team to do that.

“The senior class has been to the playoffs three times in their career, and the juniors and sophomores have been twice. I felt we were in a good position.’’

After the team’s fourth consecutive 28-0 Thanksgiving shutout of Stoneham yesterday, the Rockets (11-0) waltz into the playoffs with full momentum. They will host Dracut Tuesday night at 7:45 at Birch Meadow.

The streaks, the history, and the numbers are tough to ignore.

Since a loss to Walpole in the 2008 playoffs, the Rockets have compiled 24 consecutive victories. They currently have 393 points, second in school history behind the 441 they scored last season.

Reading has allowed just 70 points this season, with four shutouts.

“Finishing the regular season strong at 11-0 is the way I wanted to go out as a senior, or the way anyone wants to go out a senior,’’ said tricaptain Jeff Covitz, a workhorse on both lines.

“We don’t look at the records too much. Some of the games we’ve won this year have been big, but deep down we know that we could have played a lot better.’’

With all 28 points coming in the first half, Fiore was able to put his starters on the sideline and give his backups and underclassmen some work.

“We were able to take our starters out right away and put our younger kids in, so that was good,’’ Fiore said. “I’m very happy with the way the kids responded today.’’

Senior running back Larry Gilligan provided the first score five minutes into the game, rushing in from 4 yards. Brian Bourque scored two minutes later on a 12-yard quarterback keeper, and his 2-point rush put Reading ahead, 14-0.

Junior Zack Bates’s 11-yard run two minutes into the second quarter gave Reading a three-touchdown cushion, and Joe Guarino wrapped up the scoring on a 3-yard run with 2:12 left in the half.

Reading, which leads this Thanksgiving series, 57-15-4, scored at least 20 points in all but one of its regular-season games and at least 30 in all but three.