LOWER MERION >> Coming off a strong season and staring at an 0-3 start, Upper Darby didn’t really care how it got its first win or what team it came against.
The Royals just wanted to get on the board. Enter: lowly Harriton.
The Rams served as the perfect fodder for Upper Darby, which dominated en route to a 40-0 victory Friday night in Central League play. Now 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the league, Upper Darby can breathe a sigh of relief.
“It felt pretty good,” said Quaron Davis, who rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns. “We’re looking forward to getting back on track and stuff. Getting back on the road, getting back to our winning ways.”
Upper Darby had an ugly start to this season — it was outscored 134-59 in its three losses. With limited seniors on the roster, and five of those hurt, according to coach Rich Gentile, it’s been baptism by fire for the young squad.
On this night, they were rewarded. Davis ran strong out of the backfield, Nate Rimel was a very efficient 12 of 15 passing for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and the defense yielded a mere 66 yards of total offense and five first downs.
“I’m happy that offensively we didn’t miss too many assignments — you’re playing who you’re playing,” Gentile explained. “But what you want to be able to do is run the play the way it’s designed, and if you set up a defensive scheme, line up that way all that time and play the game.”
Upper Darby did just that, effectively putting together four different scoring drives in the first half. Jalen Camille capped the first with a three-yard run on an end around. After Isaiah McClain’s interception, Rimel hit Obadiah Asare for a 24-yard touchdown.
In the second quarter, Rimel found Camille for a 58-yard score up the seam. Three plays later, Asare stole the ball from Harriton’s Colin Prigent and raced 18 yards with the fumble. Before halftime, Davis added a one-yard run to make it 34-0.
“I feel like the whole team is getting into a flow,” Davis said, “like we (were) all flowing together.”
Davis had a two-yard run early in the fourth quarter to set off the running clock and send in Upper Darby’s second unit. After double-digit losses the last two weeks to Garnet Valley and Springfield, the Royals could finally relax.
The difference this week? Davis said it started in practice. For Gentile, it was his younger players finally getting used to this level of competition. The defense was lined up right. The offense moved the ball up-and-down the field. The Royals punted just once with the starters on the field, but did have two turnovers.
Regardless, it was a much-needed win for Upper Darby. With primarily sophomores and juniors on this team, being on the right side of a blowout means a lot. The strength of the opponent — Harriton dropped to 0-4 overall, 0-3 in league play — is irrelevant.
All the Royals know is they had a great Friday night.
“For them young kids that are playing, they don’t know, they just know it’s a win,” Gentile said. “Forty-to-nothing and they played well. So they feel good about themselves, and that’s the most important part when you have a young team, that they feel good.”