LOWER MERION — Upper Darby showed up to play Friday night. But the Royals' opponent, Harriton, did not, and the Royals took advantage early on their way to a 53-7 landslide victory in a Central League matchup.
Unfortunately for Harriton quarterback Matt Brannau, the Royals' defense had an easy time getting lots of pressure on the Rams' passing game. They recorded five sacks before the end of the first half.
"It felt good. It's just easy. I mean, just practicing hard and playing good,' Nataar Henderson said. "It felt like it was light, like it was practice.'
"That's the first time we've heard [Henderson] talk all year. He can't talk,' running back Cyrus Barlee joked.
He might be quiet off the field, but Henderson made plenty of noise on the field Friday night. The 6-5, 300-pound tackle got two of his team's sacks.
The Royals (5-2, 4-1) were coming off of the their first win over Ridley in 11 years, and the momentum from that all-important victory carried over into their drubbing of Harriton.
Barlee, who came into Friday's contest leading the Royals with 564 yards rushing, came out of the gates flying.
"We wanted to set the pace on the offense and just pound them every time,' Barlee said. "And O-line was doing a great job blocking, and we got movement every time up front. O-Line did their jobs. So, cutback lanes was open all day. So I just took them.'
Barlee rushed for 89 yards
Taking over for Barlee in the backfield was junior Lawrence Bowden, who ran for two second-half touchdowns and 81 yards on just ten carries.
Royals quarterback Chris Rossiter also helped get things going early in the first quarter. The senior completed his first throw on the first play of the game to Justin Vendetti for a first down. Five plays later, he ran the ball into the end zone for a 12-yard gain to open the scoring.
"That's the great thing about our team,' Rossiter said. "[The receivers] are always open. Offensive lines gives you time. I've had one sack in the past six games so they're blocking their butts off. It's been great.'
Rossiter finished his day with 81 yards passing, two passing touchdowns and the rushing touchdown.
To Harriton's credit, they did manage to get back into the game after falling behind 13-0 in the first quarter. Brannau helped orchestrate a five-play, 62-yard drive that culminated in a 46-yard catch and run by Andre Pendleton.
But Upper Darby made the necessary adjustments on defense and held the Rams to seven points the rest of the way.
"After Glen Mills, we all sat down and came together and set a goal for ourselves and that was playoffs,' Rossiter said. "Because everybody seems to doubt us and compares us to teams of the past, but it's nothing like that anymore. This is a completely new team.'