LOWER MERION — There’s not much that can keep Taylor Margolis off the field, except for a bloodied elbow.
Radnor’s senior middle linebacker, and one of its co-captains, sprinted from a spot on the turf in front of Harriton’s bench to his sideline. He had just made a crunching tackle that saved a potential first down and had come up with a gash on his right arm.
A quick wrap of his elbow, and Margolis returned to his usual spot like nothing happened.
“Just a tough kid,” said fellow linebacker Scott Belveal. “It helps to have him next to me. He’s a leader. I look up to Taylor.”
Margolis and Belveal shepherded Radnor’s bruising defense, as the Raiders cruised past host Harriton, 43-0, in a Thursday night game that opened the Central League schedule for both clubs. Margolis logged five tackles, including one for a loss. Belveal had three quarterback sacks among his four tackles for loss.
Radnor quarterback Sam DiLella accumulated a complete stat line in only two quarters of work. He went 11-for-13 for 275 yards passing and four touchdowns.
DiLella and the Raiders (2-0, 1-0) got a significant lift from their defense, which bottled up Harriton all night. The Rams managed only 11 yards of total offense, including only four after halftime. They had only eight offensive snaps over the game’s final two quarters.
“Coach put in a new blitz package that we ran pretty effectively in the first quarter,” said Belveal. “(Harriton) started to pick up on it a little bit in the second quarter, but it still worked really well.”
“It’s great, honestly,” said Margolis, who is being scouted by all eight Ivy League teams. “You’re a senior and your team is 2-0. There’s no better feeling than that. Our motivation is the team. We are having fun playing football. We just want to win.”
It also didn’t hurt having such an offensive lift.
After starting the game’s scoring with a special teams play, a safety on a blocked punt, Radnor flexed its offensive muscle throughout the remainder of the first half.
Jahmir Dixon pulled down first-half touchdown passes of 20, 22 and 29 yards. He scored the first, on a wheel route, untouched. The second and third scores, also with Dixon lined up in the slot, iced a remarkable first half for the junior wideout.
“You’re going to hear his name a lot this year,” DiLella said.
Belveal capped a first-quarter drive with a 10-yard scoring rush through the heart of Harriton’s defensive line.
And with 30 seconds left before halftime, senior co-captain Brendan Surbeck brought down a 43-yard score on a play that looked broken. DiLella instead spun out of trouble in a collapsed pocket to find Surbeck drifting down the left sideline wide open. The degree of difficulty on the catch, however, remained fairly high as the ball caught some air.
“It was fun playing on a Thursday night,” DiLella said. “This was only my second time starting (on varsity), and I only have eight more in the regular season. You have to enjoy it while it’s there.”
Harriton managed next to nothing on offense. On 28 first-half snaps, the Rams (0-1, 0-1) mustered four first downs. It didn’t get much better after halftime, either. Coach Justin Mellor’s group extended its Central League losing streak to 40 games, dating back to October 2014.
In no way did Radnor want to be the team that helped Harriton end its five-year slump against league opponents.
“No matter who we’re playing,” said Margolis, “we just come to play. That’s it.”
Added DiLella: “It’s all about just keeping our heads straight and focusing and executing in practice. After these first two games, it’s like we’re really coming together as a team.”