Whenever Jonathan Murphy and his 2019 Revere High teammates gather in the years to come, they’ll remember their game against Lynn English at Manning Field – when, as it all turned out – their undisputed and undefeated NEC championship season was on the line.
It was Jonathan – a 5-foot-11-inch, 170-pound senior captain, an All-Conference cornerback and the youngest of three RHS football-playing Murphy brothers – who made the biggest tackle of his four-year career to ultimately seal Revere’s wild 32-30 victory over English in overtime. The events that preceded Murphy intuitively reading a rollout and ultimately denying the Lynn English quarterback the corner – well, Revere fans likely will never view a football sequence like that ever again.
To summarize: Revere had recovered a fumble on English’s possession in overtime, but English immediately recovered the ball right back and took it to the end zone for a touchdown, bringing the Bulldogs to within two points and a try to force a second overtime.
Murphy saw things developing on the two-point conversion attempt and tackled the English quarterback to end the game and set off a raucous celebration.
“I was playing more like a rover-safety,” recalled Murphy. “English had stacked the box and had two tight ends in the game at that point. So my responsibility was basically contain the outside and make sure nothing gets around me. Joe Llanos [who had scored four TDs in the game] blitzed the inside and I went outside. I saw the quarterback rolling out and I just tried riding him out as long as I could right to the sideline and I was able to take him down.”
Following a thrilling run in the MIAA playoffs that ended one step short of the Super Bowl in a loss at Melrose before a standing-room only crowd, Revere regrouped and defeated Winthrop on Thanksgiving to wrap up the aforementioned NEC title.
An Auspicious Debut in Revere Pop Warner
Jonathan Murphy made his debut in football as the quarterback of the Revere Pop Warner Junior Patriots’ ‘F’ team coached by his father, Brian. The Junior Patriots went 9-0 that season with 5-year-old Jonathan piloting the offense.
“That season gave me a great idea about football,” recalled Jonathan. “After going 9-0, I thought, ‘this is the best sport ever.’’’
Murphy was a standout at each level in the rising Revere Pop Warner football organization that saw more players joining and progressing to high school football.
He then made a notable transition from Pop Warner to varsity football, becoming a starting cornerback as a freshman. He returned to his quarterbacking roots as a sophomore and then became a starting wide receiver as a junior. But when starting quarterback Calvin Boudreau sustained a season-ending injury, Coach Lou Cicatelli called on the versatile Murphy to take over the reins of the Revere offense once again.
Boudreau returned as QB this season and the talented junior teamed with Murphy at wide receiver to form one of the NEC’s best passing combinations, giving the Patriots another serious threat to take the defense’s attention away from the dangerous Joe Llanos coming out of the backfield.
The NEC coaches recognized Murphy’s superb senior season by unanimously selecting him NEC First Team All Conference. He has announced his intention to attend Endicott College in Beverly.
Murphy credits Cicatelli and the Revere coaching staff for “an amazing four years.”
“It was a great experience – I gave my all during those four years,” said Murphy. “Coach Cicatelli helped me out a lot. He taught me well from freshman year all the way through senior year. I wouldn’t change anything from my four years in that football program. It’s just something I’ll always remember. I worked with great coaches and great teammates.”
Cicatelli said Murphy was a lock-down cornerback and a terrific receiver who had more than 400 yards catching the football.
“Jonathan had key touchdowns in the playoff games and was just an overall clutch player on both sides of the ball,” said Cicatelli. “In his junior year, I’ll never forget how he took over as quarterback after Calvin got hurt and Jonathan stepped up and we went on a winning streak and he led us to the playoffs. He was a tough, hard-nosed kid, very coachable. He would play anywhere we asked him to, and he’s going to be greatly missed.”
The Murphy brothers’ football tradition in the RHS program encompasses more than a decade and the family’s imprint actually dates back to when their father, Brian Murphy, was a starting tight end for Coach Silvio Cella’s Pats and caught passes from quarterback Rich Finelli in the early 1980s.
Jonathan’s oldest brother, Brian Murphy, was an excellent lineman who went on to play football at UMass/Dartmouth.
Middle brother Daniel Murphy was an RHS captain and standout quarterback and continued his football career at Saint Anselm. He will receive his college degree in May.
Off the field, parents Brian and Joanne Murphy deserve their own MVP Award. While Jonathan was performing his feats on the field at Della Russo Stadium, Mr. Murphy was helping out at the concession stand cooking the hot dogs and overseeing the grill.
Joanne Murphy was the treasurer of the Boosters and the volunteer work and fundraising of that organization did not go unnoticed by the players, the coaches or Revere High Director of Athletics Frank Shea.
“She was very involved as a booster – she helped out so much,” said her appreciative son, Jonathan. “I couldn’t thank my mom enough for all that, the same thing with my dad cooking on the grill every home game. They did so much for the program. They’re very humble about it, they don’t really like to say all that stuff, but they helped out a tremendous amount.”
Cicatelli said he was grateful for the Murphys’ off-the-field contributions to the program.
“I can’t say enough about his mother, Joanne, who did a great job in the parents’ club and all her efforts behind the scenes,” said Cicatelli. “I played high school football with Jonathan’s dad, Brian. The family has been very involved in the program and I’m going to miss the family. It’s been a real nice journey. I had the brothers at all my football camps since they were little. I watched them grow up to be young men and be successful.”
On to Endicott
Jonathan Murphy will report to Endicott preseason camp in early August for his first season of college football. Honored with an Academic Award at the Revere football banquet, he intends to study business with a special emphasis in the field of sports management.
Murphy, who will play wide receiver for the Endicott Gulls, hopes he’ll be catching passes at Hempstead Stadium from his roommate, Lynnfield quarterback and incoming freshman Clayton Marengi.
Looking back on his years at Revere High School, Murphy said he is grateful to the faculty for preparing students exceptionally well for college.
“Revere High was great. The teachers are very down to earth and they care about the kids a lot. They want you to do well and they really prepare so you can be successful in college and beyond,” he said.
The current COVID-19 global pandemic has cut short the seniors’ last year of high school. There remains hope that the school year will resume.
“When we left the school that last day before we were sent home, no one knew what was ahead – it’s kind of crazy to think how I walked out of Revere High for the last time as a student and I didn’t even know it,” said Murphy. “I miss walking the halls, seeing my classmates, my friends, and the teachers and being part of such a fantastic school community.”