READING — Selecting the best Reading High football players of the past decade is no easy feat.
When you’ve got four Super Bowl appearances (2010, 2012, 2015, 2016) with a state championship in 2012, and seven Middlesex League Liberty titles either won outright or shared (2010-2013, 2015, 2018-2019), that means a lot of great players have passed through the halls of RMHS over the past 10 years. And there certainly have been.
These selections were almost entirely supplied by the Reading High coaching staff. Head coach John Fiore and right-hand man David Blanchard coached all of these players in practice every day, instructed them on the sidelines of every game, and watched replay after replay of their exploits on countless game films. In the end their choices mattered more than this writer’s. But in almost all instances we agree with their selections.
Note that the years listed after the player are not year of graduation, but the principal seasons in which they played.
On to the list.
Quarterback is an absolute logjam. But in the end you have to give the nod to Drew Belcher. An All-Scholastic and a Middlesex League Liberty Division MVP, Belcher led the Rockets to a perfect 13-0 season in 2012. He was a true dual threat, who at the time set a school record with 21 TD passes in 2012. At 6-3 and 220 pounds he ran past linebackers and over safeties and corners.
Honorable mentions go to Brian Bourque (2010), Corey DiLoreto (2014-2016), and Matt Sannella (2018). Bourque was an athletic runner and underrated passer in his single season at the helm, coming up just short of a Super Bowl title. DiLoreto was a rare three-year starter and guided his teams to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, and an even better baseball player, while Sannella (2018 All-Scholastic) still should be able to eat on the house in any restaurant in town after leading the Rockets to a near-impossible comeback win on Thanksgiving. James Murphy arguably could be on this list after breaking every school record as a freshman 2019 (single season passing yards, touchdowns), but it’s hard to put him on here after just one season.
Running back is another tough position with some excellent players, though not quite as star-studded as QB. In the end No. 1 was an easy selection. D’Aundray Burcy (2013-2015) had all the tools—speed, burst, good hands, tackle-breaking, blocking — and was an obvious choice. His 1,581 rushing yards in 2015 broke Bill Tucker’s single-season record of 1,542 that stood for 23 years.
If we’re sticking with just two running backs then you probably have to go with Alex Valente (2011-2012), whose 99-yard touchdown run in the Div. 2 Super Bowl win over rival Mansfield is still a thing of beauty (how did he get out of that goalline pile?). We still believe that, if healthy, lacrosse All-Scholastic Jack Geiger (2016-17) could have been the best of this group, but his limited time on the field was good enough to make him an honorable mention, along with tough, explosive Nick DiNapoli (2014-2016).
The offensive line includes Matt Comerford (2011-2012), Sean Valente (2013-2015), Andrew Bourque (2011-2013), Sam Turecamo (2015), Dan Bekkenhuis (2016-2018), and Anthony Fodera (2010). Honorable mentions include Andrew Ferraro (2010-2011), and Tom Beucler (2011). Current player Dom DeCrescenzo (2018-present) is a tough omission but could make a future list. Valente could have made it on the defensive line as well, while the massive Comerford (6-5, 275) was arguably the most dominant blocker of the group.
Give the nod at tight end to Rob DiLoreto, with honorable mention to Brian Kelly (2009-10). Your three wide receivers are Will Connery (2013-2015), Ryan Maney (2011-2012), and Sean Gildea (2008-10), with Sam Patterson (2014-2015) and Nick Scali (2010) honorable mentions. Connery was probably the most electric player we’ve seen in the decade and was a threat to score every time he touched the ball, be it receiver or in the return game. Maney was a dominant receiver with height, athleticism and terrific speed honed on the track.
Reading is known for its good “mike” (middle) linebacking corps, and Liam Kenneally (2011-2013), Joe Bradley (2015-2016) and Joe Guarino (2010) were the best of the decade. Kenneally was a tackling machine in every sense of the word and went on to an outstanding career at Trinity College. Honorable mentions include Colin Comerford (2017-2019), Zack Krugman (2012) and Billy Carnes (2011).
The starting secondary includes Chris Godwin (2012), Greg Connery (2010-2012), Patrick Conroy (2016-2018), and Alec D’Agostino (2011-2012).
If you want to know why Reading had such a good defense in 2012, yielding just 65 points in 13 games, Godwin (seven interceptions) and Connery were the reason (oh, and Kenneally at linebacker). Conroy was a ridiculously gifted athlete whose Hudl highlight reel is worth a watch. Honorable mentions include Eric D’Agostino (2015-2016), Larry Gilligan (2008-2010), Jeremy Rosh (2017-2019), and Anthony DeSimone (2011).
How good was Reading’s defensive line in 2015? No fewer than three of the four best defensive linemen of the decade played on it. These include Hunter Atwood (2015), John O’Brien (2014-2015) and Jake Malinski (2013-2015).
But as great as these three were, the best single defensive lineman (and arguably the top player, though that probably goes to Belcher) of the decade was Jeff Covitz whose final season of a three-year varsity career touched 2010. Covitz destroyed every offensive lineman he played against in high school.
Honorable mentions in this deep group include Peter Fodera (2010-2012) and John Donnellan (2012-2013).
If you put Covitz, Kenneally, and Conroy on the same defense, no high school team in the state scores a touchdown on it.
Let’s give Tommy White the nod at kicker for the team of the decade.
And there you have it.
READING HIGH ALL-DECADE (2010s) FOOTBALL TEAM
Drew Belcher (2011-13)
Honorable Mention: Brian Bourque (2010), Corey DiLoreto (2014-16), Matt Sannella (2017-18)
D’Aundray Burcy (2013-15)
Alex Valente (2011-12)
Honorable Mention: Nick DiNapoli (2014-16), Jack Geiger (2016-17)
Robert DiLoreto (2012-13)
Honorable Mention: Brian Kelly (2010)
Ryan Maney (2011-12)
Will Connery (2013-15)
Sean Gildea (2010)
Honorable Mention: Sam Patterson (2014-15), Nick Scali (2010)
Matt Comerford (2011-12)
Sean Valente (2013-15)
Andrew Bourque (2011-13)
Sam Turecamo (2015)
Dan Bekkenhuis (2016-18)
Anthony Fodera (2010)
Honorable Mention: Andrew Ferraro (2010-11), Tom Beucler (2011)
Jeff Covitz (2010)
Hunter Atwood (2015)
John O’Brien (2014-15)
Jake Malinski (2013-15)
Honorable Mention: Peter Fodera (2010-12), John Donnellan (2012-13)
Liam Kenneally (2011-13)
Joe Bradley (2015-16)
Joe Guarino (2010)
Honorable Mention: Colin Comerford (2017-2019), Zack Krugman (2012), Billy Carnes (2011)
Chris Godwin (2012)
Greg Connery (2010-12)
Patrick Conroy (2016-18)
Alec D’Agostino (2011-12)
Honorable Mention: Eric D’Agostino (2015-16), Larry Gilligan (2010), Jeremy Rosh (2017-19), Anthony DeSimone (2011)
Tommy White (2013-15)
• Reading High football coach John Fiore and long-time assistant David Blanchard assisted with this list.