WORCESTER >> Turnovers can be the great neutralizer in a football game, even if the more careless team is outplaying its opponent. It can also be the main ingredient of a blowout if the benefiting team capitalizes on its opportunities.
Upper Darby forced seven turnovers Friday night, while not turning the ball over at all on offense, en route to a 42-22 victory over Methacton.
“We make the comment all the time: ‘if you don’t turn the ball over and you don’t give up any big plays, then you’re gonna be in most football games,'” Upper Darby head coach Rich Gentile said. “I thought we played pretty well on the defensive side of the ball and offensively we were able to make plays.”
The Royals’ defense forced four turnovers in the first half alone, as UD went into the halftime locker room with a 35-8 lead. The visitors recovered five Methacton fumbles and intercepted the Warriors twice in the game.
Upper Darby capitalized on nearly every opportunity on offense, and they didn’t need any extra help with the way they were clicking. Nasir Greer finished the game with 195 total yards and five touchdowns, including eight catches for 155 yards and four scores.
“He’s one of our injured kids that came back a few weeks ago. He broke his hand before the season started,” Gentile said. “He’s one of those guys that you want to get the ball to in space.”
Quarterback Nate Rimel also posted a big night for the Royals, going 17-28 for 274 yards and five touchdowns in the game.
“He played well tonight,” Gentile said. “The guys caught the ball…you make plays in space and that’s what we tried to do tonight.”
The senior now sits 152 yards shy of the school record for passing yards in a season with the Thanksgiving game remaining against Haverford.
“Just gotta work. We gotta work as a team,” Rimel said. “I need my team to do it. It’s their record too, not just mine.”
A senior send-off
Irregardless of the result, Methacton’s seniors were playing in their final game Friday night. The final score wasn’t ideal, but the tradition stays the same.
After huddling up as a team the underclassmen and coaches created a tunnel for the seniors to walk through and say their final goodbyes before walking off the field for the last time as a Warrior. It proved to be an emotional moment, fitting for a group of players who gave everything they had over four years.
“That’s just something we’ve done since I took over. Just a way of the seniors passing the torch and letting the underclassmen know that, ‘now it’s your responsibility to carry on and get your work done in the offseason,'” Methacton head coach Paul Lepre said after the game. “I think our seniors deserve that after the time and effort they put in.”
Methacton will graduate 11 seniors from this year’s team.
“These guys, over the last two years, have been a part of an upper-class group that’s been low in numbers and yet comes out every week with a new vision, a new focus on trying to be successful,” Lepre said. “That means so much in a program that’s struggling to win games week in and week out. They could just pack it in and go through the motions at practice but that’s not the kind of individuals we have in this program.”
Two-way player Dylan Henry is one of those seniors. He was jumping Upper Darby’s snap count all night long as a linebacker and had multiple tackles for loss in the game. He also scored a 15-yard touchdown on the ground as a running back in the fourth quarter.
“Dylan, from the time he was a ninth grader with us working in the summer time I knew he was going to be a very productive player for us just from his work ethic,” Lepre said. “He’s played undersized his whole career…he doesn’t feel like there’s anybody he can’t take on a battle.”
“That was probably the best feeling in the world right there,” Henry said about the post-game ceremony. “That was better than prom, it was better than everything…it’s honestly the best feeling in the world to know that everyone has my back and I have their back. We’ve been through so much together.
“I just want to thank everyone for everything. It means so much to me that everyone cares enough to be out here and still support us through everything.”