UPPER DARBY >> Josh Gouch had something in the back of his mind as he made his first start Friday night as Upper Darby’s new quarterback: Revenge.
“After last year, losing on the last play of the game,” Gouch said. “It hurts. Getting back up like this, it really makes a statement. And it makes a statement for the season.”
The Royals dominated on both sides of the ball en route to a 35-0 victory over Bonner & Prendergast to kick off their 2017 campaign. Upper Darby had lost to the Friars, 30-23, last year.
Gouch made a strong first impression, showcasing a dual-threat ability and Upper Darby’s ground game controlled the clock. The Royals ran for 282 yards, with senior running back Quaran Davis picking up 82 yards, junior do-everything back Marson Weh running in a 27-yard score and sophomore Kareem McAdams adding a 30-yard touchdown.
Gouch ran for 106 yards and added 70 more in the air, picking up both a rushing touchdown and passing TD — a 30-yard catch-and-run to senior wide receiver Jalen Camile that put Upper Darby up, 23-0, in the third quarter.
“Going into the season, we graduated a quarterback,” Upper Darby head coach Rich Gentile said of Gouch. “We had a lot of other people back, but we graduated Nate (Rimel), so you get a little concerned. He did a great job running the offense, making reads.”
The Royals scored on their first two possessions, a first-quarter field goal and a four-yard touchdown run by Gouch as the second quarter began. From there, it was smooth sailing.
Throughout the game, Gouch showed an ability to escape pressure and extend plays. The senior quarterback said the main difference between him and Rimel is that he’s more of a dual threat. Gentile raved about Gouch’s ability to read Bonner’s defense as well.
“(Gouch’s) faster than Nate,” Gentile said. “Nate ran like a fullback. Josh runs like a halfback. If Josh gets outside, he’ll make people miss and then he’s got speed. Josh will make people miss. That’s a huge thing when you have to cover the skill guys we have.
“You have to be concerned keeping him in the pocket. It’s not an easy thing.”
With 3:13 left in the first half and a 10-0 lead, Upper Darby put the game away when senior defensive back Jihaad K. McDonald picked off Bonner & Prendie quarterback Shon Nelson’s pass and returned it to put the Royals up, 16-0.
Nelson made his first start as the Friars’ quarterback, and the junior struggled. He completed just one pass — a 13-yard completion to senior Kyrin Jackson — and threw a pick-six. He was replaced by sophomore quarterback Mike Standen in the fourth quarter. Standen was 0 for 3. Bonner’s quarterbacks were 1 for 12 for 13 yards and an interception.
“It’s one of those games where you can say both sides of the ball,” Gentile said. “I do think we have one of the better secondaries in the area. … It’s a complete team win.”
Bonner didn’t do much against Upper Darby. The Friars ran for just 38 yards and fumbled at the end of the first half.
Friars senior running back Billy McGoldrick, who had 29 yards on 10 carries, believed Nelson was nervous in his first start as their starter, but he pointed to the entire team effort.
And losing to Upper Darby, a team he has friends play for, didn’t ease the pain, either.
“They’re my childhood friends,” McGoldrick said. “Swallowing the medicine is going to hurt for a little bit. But the season’s not over.”