PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Royals hoping to build off of second half against Rockford

WATERTOWN – The Watertown-Mayer football team started slow in their 41-14 loss to the Rockford Rockets in Week 1. Even with that lopsided loss last week, the Royals are hoping they can continue to keep things heading in the right direction, after playing much better in the second half.

“We’re absolutely hoping to see that progress continue,” W-M coach Andrew Phillips said. “Especially on offense. We want to see it get going a little bit earlier. I think with all the inexperienced players we have, we’ll see a more upbeat and fast paced group out of the gate. That will be good to see.”

A tough task lies ahead of the Royals in Week 2, as they take on the Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers. The Panthers are the ninth-ranked team in Class AAA, and are coming off a 27-20 victory over Foley in Week 1. Even with the tough task ahead of them, the Royals will be ready to compete and are up for the challenge after getting some valuable experience last week.

“It’ll be a challenge for us, “Phillips said. “If we can get the confidence going, we’ll be doing well.”

With several players getting their first taste of varsity football last week against Rockford. the Royals now know what it takes in the trenches. The Rockets blew the Royals off the line early in the game, but found their own as the game went on. As physical as that game was, Phillips knows his team will have to be ready for even more physicality with the Panthers.

“That’s what we’ve been preaching to them,” Phillips said. “This is going to be a more physical game than Rockford was. We’re going to have to bring it. We’re going to have to lower the pad level and be ready to go out of the gate.”

As far as the Panthers’ offense goes, it’s no secret. The Panthers are notorious for running the ball. They do it extremely well, and make things difficult for their opponents.

“They’re going to run right at us,” Phillips said. “I think they ran the ball 90 percent of the time Friday night. That’s what they’re going to do against us, so we have to be ready for it.”

On offense, the Royals will be looking to build off the connection quarterback Ansen Dulas and receiver Mason Pothen had down the stretch. The two hooked up for two nice completions on the final drive for the Royals, giving them some momentum on offense coming into this week.

“Building that confidence between those two guys, especially early, would be huge,” Phillips said. “Even get Carter going in the backfield. We want to get him going, too. If we can do those things, we’ll be off to a good place. We’re trying to figure out what’s going to work for us offensively.”

The Royals can’t rely on Dulas and Pothen as the only offensive threats against the Panthers. If they want to compete, they’ll need their additional skilled players to step up, and hopefully, give Entinger a break who plays both sides of the ball.

“That’s big for us,” Phillips said. “With a thin roster like we have, Carter (Entinger) was on the field for a lot of plays, both offensively and defensively. Finding that mix with our running game and passing game so we can take Carter off the field sometimes and plug in somebody else for a few plays would be nice.”

While it will be a tough battle for the Royals agains one of the top teams in Class AAA, Phillips hopes his team is able to get some turnovers to help bring momentum on their side. The Royals had a fumble recovery last week against Rockford, and turned it into points. If they can create some turnovers against G-SL, the Royals like their chances to hang in there with the Panthers.

“Defensively, we’ve been preaching turnovers,” Phillips said. “Those are game changers and sudden momentum changes. Us creating turnovers is something we have to do. Whether it’s fumble or interceptions, that’s what we have to do.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. tonight in Glencoe between the Panthers and the Royals in their first district game of the season.

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