NETHER PROVIDENCE — Anthony Myers peeled off his helmet, shoulder pads and jersey long before he left George L. King Field Friday night, no doubt savoring his performance and wondering how differently Strath Haven's season might have turned out if he had remained healthy.
But there was nothing bittersweet about the junior running back's brilliant 18-carry, 154-yard, three-touchdown effort, as the Panthers bid farewell to their seniors by dismantling Radnor, 47-18.
Myers, whose solidly-built six-foot, 185-pound frame allowed him to run around and through defenders all night, suffered a high ankle sprain earlier in the season and held himself out of last week's win over Harriton.
"We've been playing together since we went 10-0 in seventh grade, and I regret not playing last week, but I held myself out for the seniors,' Myers said. "I told the guys all week that we were going to practice like we were 10-0 and that on Friday night we were going to play like we were 10-0. I wanted to make sure that we could send them out with a performance like this.'
Strath Haven coach Kevin Clancy was especially happy for his seniors, particularly Bryan Mizell, who completed three of his five highly-unorthodox, left-handed passes for 105 yards. Two of Mizell's airy tosses went for touchdowns — with John Ruza (2 catches, 72 yards) running under a 44-yard rainbow that gave the Panthers a 21-0 lead in the second quarter, and Alex Bratsis hauling in a 33-yard scoring lob down the right sideline with just seconds to go in the first half.
"Bryan played both ways, he was a real factor all night,' Clancy said. "He was a real leader out there, and his example really brought our seniors together.'
Mizell was gracious in victory, thanking the underclassmen, his offensive line and his star running back for providing a positive end to the Panthers' season, which ended an uncharacteristic 4-6 overall and 3-6 in the Central League.
"This was one of the longest seasons Strath Haven has ever had,' Mizell said. "We've had a bad taste in our mouths all season, but to end it like this is indescribable. I give Anthony Myers all the credit in the world.'
After forcing Radnor (2-8, 1-7) to punt on the opening series of the game, the Strath Haven offense charged onto the slick artificial turf and promptly took command.
Myers took the handoff on the Panthers first snap and barreled his way through the Raider defense for a 16-yard gain.
"Everything was clicking,' Myers said. "After I got that first run, I just felt unstoppable.'
Myers picked up four yards on the next play, and with Strath Haven facing a fourth-and-5 at the Radnor 22, he took a pitch left and carried several defenders for nine yards and a first down. The next handoff went to Myers as well, and he broke two tackles before bowling over a defensive back at the goal line for a 13-yard touchdown.
Myers' nine-yard bolt over left tackle made it 14-0 early in the second quarter. When Radnor turned the ball over on downs at its own 44 on the next series, the Panthers capitalized immediately with Mizell and Ruza hooking up on their deep scoring pass and the rout was on.
The Raiders showed some signs of life late in the first half when Jimmie Blake (six carries, 64 yards) scored on a 20-yard run. But Strath Haven put the game out of reach in the third quarter, courtesy of a 19-yard scoring scamper by Charles Fryson (eight carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs) around right end behind a lead block by Myers, followed by Myers' 45-yard TD jaunt.
The fourth quarter was all about Radnor keeping it respectable, with Vinnie Kelly firing an 18-yard scoring strike to Erami Wilson and Brice Syndor (seven catches, 81 yards) hauling in a seven-yard TD pass from Chris Leighton.
"We didn't quit,' Radnor coach Tom Ryan said. "Brice Sydnor and our other seniors battled to the end, and Vinnie and Chris played well at quarterback.
"But coach Clancy and his staff did an amazing job. It just goes to show how tough the Central League is when a team like Strath Haven goes through a season like they had.'