At halftime of the Reading-William Penn football game, it was easy to see which team had 15 returning starters and which had just three.
The Red Knights had racked up five touchdowns of varying lengths and modes while the Bearcats had just four first downs during the opening two quarters.
"At halftime, our speech (to the team was): You can react to this adversity one of two ways," said head coach Shawn Heinold. "You can rise up to it, work to improve, have each other's backs and stay positive.
"Or you can shut down, point fingers and have all the negativity that can be associated with the situation take over."
Heinold got the former, not the latter, from his inexperienced squad as it limited the Berks County team to just one second-half score in the 36-0 loss in the season-opening contest for both teams.
Big plays helped Reading gain control early.
After veteran Reading quarterback Elisiah Bayne scored the first touchdown on a one-yard keeper, Jason Crawford ripped off a 79-yard run for the second score of the first quarter.
The big plays kept coming in the second frame, the first one coming off a William Penn miscue. After a short gain, Bearcats quarterback Napoleon Snellings fumbled the ball which Reading linebacker Austin Jackson picked up and raced back 53 yards for the score.
The final first-half score came on a fourth-down, halfback option pass from Kirk Boston to Khary Mauras. William Penn defenders didn't see Mauras slip down the sideline before going 72 yards untouched into the end zone.
Heinold made a switch at quarterback at halftime, and the result was the Bearcats' best drive of the evening.
Jose Santiago-Curet replaced Snellings and showed flashes of what could be the Bearcats future leader, exhibiting a smooth delivery and the strength to throw the deep ball.
The switch was made more to give Santiago-Curet experience and not because of Snellings' first-half play.
"(Santiago-Curet) is very fluid and a natural leader," Heinold said of the senior. "It was nothing against Napoleon. It was his first varsity start. That kid gives you everything every play. He can play running back, wide receiver, safety, and punter.
"He's Mr. Do-It-All for us. I appreciate that from him and so does the team."
R — Elisiah Bayne 1 run (run failed), 8:37.
R — Jason Crawford 79 run (run failed), 0:14.
R — Austin Jackson 53 fumble recovery return (kick failed), 11:34.
R — Khary Mauras 72 pass from Kirk Boston (kick failed), 7:37.
R — Jai Whitlock 8 run (run failed), 1:55.
R — Bayne 4 run (run failed), 8:04.
RWPFirst downs186Rushes-yards51-39627-75Passing2-3-06-20-4Passing yards9425Total yards490100Punts0-03-39.9Fumbles-lost3-21-1Penalties-yards8-805-30
Rushing — R, Jason Crawford 6-102, Jai Whitolock 17-98, Khary Mauras 3-85, Kirk Boston 5-42, Elisiah Bayne 11-40, Kristan Diaz-Cruz 7-34, Isiah Giddens 1(-2), Kelvin Toro 1-(-1). WP, Napoleon Snellings 13-32, Andrew Radzik 8-22, Angel Dejesus 4-13, Jose Santiago-Curet 1-4, Markeis Cash 1-4.
Passing — R, Bayne 1-2-0-22, Boston 1-1-0-72. WP, Snellings 3-7-1-15, Santiago-Curet 3-13-3-10.
Receiving — R, Mauras 2-94. WP, Radzik 2-9, William Barton 2-7, Cash 1-9, Nyshaun Ritter 1-1.