UPPER DARBY — From the start of the game, it didn't look like the Royals came mentally prepared to play.
Upper Darby's opening kickoff resulted in an offside penalty and the makeup kick went out of bounds. Those mistakes quickly went out the window, however, as the Royals handed Radnor a 45-7 loss in a Central League matchup Friday night.
The Royals took over in the second quarter with three straight touchdowns from senior running back Cyrus Barlee. He scored on runs from 17 yards, 21 yards and 2 yards in just under five minutes to blow the game open.
Barlee finished with 77 yards on just eight runs as most of the offensive starters sat during the second half. He bowled over a few players at the second level but was nearly untouched on every run at the line, which let him get his legs pumping.
"My offensive line made big holes, man,' he said. "I can't ask for anything better.'
Despite starting with those penalties, the Royals (3-2, 2-1 Central) forced a three-and-out. Upper Darby then went an unconventional route to get onto the board first: Quarterback Chris Rossiter left the ball on the ground for Kevin White behind the center and White gobbled the ball up and rushed easily into the end zone to score on the fumblerooski.
Royals coach Rich Gentile said his team's ability to bounce back from those early mistakes and pull off a trick play for a touchdown said a lot about its leadership and composure.
"This is a great group of kids, I've said this all year,' he said. "It's been a long time since I've had a group of kids, and I mean from seniors down to sophomores, who are focused and all they want to do is win. Nothing seems to faze them.'
The Royals defense was a huge part of the game as well, forcing three turnovers — three on fumbles and one interception from Larry Mills — and sacking Leighton three times. The combination of forcing turnovers and committing no turnovers of their own gives Gentile and his kids plenty of confidence heading into their matchup against Ridley next week.
"If we don't turn the ball over and we play teams straight up, I think we can play with anybody,' he said. "I won't say beat anybody, we can play anybody.'
Radnor was able to bounce back early after that first score and tied the game up at 7-7 after a 41-yard touchdown from Chris Leighton to Jack Wilson. That was the end of the Raiders' offensive production for the night, however, as Upper Darby took over the game.
Leighton typically splits time with fellow sophomore Vinnie Kelly under center but took over after the very first play from scrimmage when Kelly was knocked out. It was the first of many tough turns for the Raiders all night. Kelly spent the rest of the night on the bench but is expected to recover.
"Upper Darby's tough, they play hard and physical and had a nice game plan for us,' Radnor coach Tom Ryan said. "They took it to us. It's tough playing the bigger schools but this is what we signed up for.'