ROY — Ken Linehan jogged towards the Roy High sideline, swarmed in sea of yellow and black. The senior fullback stopped and looked at his teammates, then up at the crowd, which had gathered tight in the middle of the stands to sing the Royals’ fight song.
The Royals, Linehan acknowledged, hadn’t had a night like this in quite some time.
Propelled by five second-half touchdowns, Roy battered Clearfield 42-9 on Friday night, giving the Royals a season-opening win and their largest margin of victory since 2007.
The win also signaled a shift in the mindset of the Royals, who have so often served over the last decade as a doormat. A 4-5 season a year ago was progress, but the Royals now believe they have what it takes to be a legitimate threat in Region 5.
“I think it really shows we’re turning the page and becoming a team that can really compete,” said Linehan, who rushed for two touchdowns and 89 yards on 14 carries. “I feel like if we don’t end up (making the playoffs), I’d be really disappointed and surprised.”
After taking a 7-3 lead into the half, the Royals scorched the Falcons the rest of the way. A 35-yard scoring strike down the right sideline from quarterback Tyler Skidmore to receiver Logan LaRose started things for Roy in the third, and the Royals didn’t stop until the game was firmly in their grasp.
Defensively, the Royals allowed just one touchdown — after a fumbled Clearfield punt late in the fourth gave the Falcons field position close to the red zone — and the Falcons struggled all night just to cross midfield.
“That’s a continuation of our defense last year,” said second-year Roy coach Fred Fernades. “I think we’ve got some pretty good players on defense.”
The highlight for the Falcons was stuffing Roy on third and fourth downs from the goal-line as the first half wound down, depriving the Royals from a double-digit halftime lead. At the time, the play looked like a potential game-changer, but as it turned out, the Royals didn’t need the points.
Stockton Larsen’s 26-yard touchdown pass to John McDonald late in the fourth quarter gave the Falcons their touchdown. Larsen went 5-for-10 for 73 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Skidmore, a sophomore, and senior Garrett Bowman split time at quarterback for the Royals. The duo was effective, as Skidmore went 3-for-6 for 61 yards and Bowman threw for 104 yards and a touchdown on 5-for-8 passing.
“We’re looking for a starter,” Fernandes said. “But I thought both of them played pretty damn good tonight. To be honest, it will be hard to pick a starter.”