Rocket Football Preview: Week 8

Rockets Host Lexington for League Title


Colby Markham ('25), Orbit Contributor

Senior night is upon us, and the 7-0 Rockets are preparing to cross swords with the 2-5 Lexington Minutemen. Reading hopes to cash-in on Friday one more time before the playoffs begin. 

Last Week:  A Win And A Record

Reading was at peak form last Thursday, soundly defeating Winchester 42-14 in yet another league win. Despite the score, the game wasn’t totally smooth sailing. Going into the fourth quarter, Winchester was able to cut the deficit to one score, and seemed poised to take advantage of a momentum shift. Reading had other ideas. The defense was able to keep the Red and Black out of the end zone for the rest of the game, highlighted by a three interception record-tying performance from Alex DiNapoli. Then as is often the case, the offense turned on the jets, sealing Reading’s seventh straight win.

James Murphy, senior quarterback and Brown University commit, threw for 175 yards, two scores and no interceptions, completing an impressive 70% of his passes. The running back room had another productive day, Alvin Day and Jack Dougherty rushing for two touchdowns apiece.


But out of every player that night, all eyes were on Senior Tight End Jesse Doherty. Everyone was waiting for him to catch his 16th career touchdown reception, a number that would give him the school record. Having been kept out of the end zone for the whole game, Jesse was determined to cash in. In the fourth quarter on the last scoring drive of the game, he would do just that. On a first and goal, Jesse was able to beat his man inside on a slant route, and secure his place in Reading football history. When asked about the play, and how hard his teammates tried to get him the record, Doherty had this to say: 

“Well, that play, the coach didn’t call that play. [Murphy] looked at me and he said, ‘Hey, Jess, run a slant, you’re getting this touchdown.’ So we ran the play and we got it, but I think if I didn’t get it we’d try to run another little slant…I think we’d still be taking shots to the end zone.”

With the score, Jesse Doherty sits atop a long list of great Reading football players, surpassing names such as Ryan Maney in the early 2010’s, and Tim Bryant and Steve Gath at the turn of the century. His name is forever etched in Reading football history, and when asked about how it felt, he had this to say:

“When we were little, me, James [Murphy] and [Ryan] Strout used to talk about high school football…and to come here now and we’re like really doing it, we’re up there with some of the greats, it’s pretty wild that this is actually happening.”

This Week: League Title Possibilities

This Friday, Jesse will have a chance to add to his record as the Rockets prepare to play the Lexington Minutemen. Lexington has had a rough season, last week being torched 54-12 by Woburn. Despite this, their record isn’t fully indicative of their strength. Three of their losses came against very strong non-league teams that have 4 combined defeats between them. The Minutemen are a decent team with an okay offense that can take advantage of defensive mistakes. However, their defense has really struggled, and going up against a team like Reading that puts up big points every game will prove to be challenging.

The fans are going to be out in numbers. A victory clinches Reading’s third straight league title and sets a tone going into the playoffs. Jesse Doherty is cognizant of the importance of a win against Lexington this week, and is confident in their ability to perform.  “…We get this win, we win the Middlesex League and then we go into the playoffs really heavy, so I’m looking forward to it. It’s senior night–senior night for the boys–so it should be a good one.”

Get loud Rockets. Reading is the favorite to win, and like Jesse said, it should be a good one.

Middlesex Liberty Division Standings

Overall League
Reading 7-0 4-0
Belmont  5-3 3-1
Woburn 4-3 2-1
Lexington 2-5 2-2
Arlington 2-5 0-4
Winchester 1-6 0-3