WATERTOWN – A more perfect script couldn’t have been written.
On one of the biggest nights for the Watertown-Mayer football program in the past decade, the Royals delivered in front of a packed house as they opened their new stadium with a convincing 32-8 win over the Albany Huskies Friday night.
“We knew we had a good team coming in,” junior quarterback Albert Rundell said. “It was the first time on the new field and we wanted to make a statement. They were good. We had to prove we were good enough. We came in here and proved it. We’re 3-0.”
“We drove here to school this morning and we didn’t have a press box,” Royals coach Andrew Phillips added. “The scoreboard hasn’t even been turned on until tonight. Here we are 3-0 now. This first win on this field is really exciting.”
It didn’t take long for the Royals to give their fans something to cheer about. After forcing a three and out on Albany’s opening drive, W-M blocked the punt and recovered it in the end zone for their first score of the game.
“So many times in the past we’ve let the other team bring the game to us,” Phillips said. “We’ve got to take it to somebody. For us to go out and block a punt right away and score without our offense on the field was a huge tone-setter for the night.”
On Albany’s second possession, W-M forced another turnover setting themselves up in great field position. This time, Wyatt McCabe found the endzone from one yard out, putting the Royals up 13-0 just seven minutes into the game.
“The defense came out and made a statement,” Rundell said. “That’s what we needed. We just held onto that lead the rest of the game and they never caught up.”
Albany cut W-M’s lead to 13-8 shortly before the half, but once again the Royals wasted little time in getting the crowd back into it. On their first possession in the second half, Rundell found Connor Donovan for a 59-yard touchdown to put the Royals back up two scores.
“That was huge to go up two scores,” Rundell said. “It set the tone for the whole second half. We just kept going from there. The defense played great and we just executed.”
Donovan has become one of the go-to receivers for the Royals this season.
“Connor has done a great job this season finding a way to get open and using his speed to get away from guys,” Phillips said. “He makes big plays for us. It’s huge to have that kind of threat for us.”
W-M would go on to outscore 12 unanswered points the rest of the way as they never looked back on their way to improving to 3-0 on the season with the win.
“It’s awesome to be here with everybody,” Phillips said. “We had a packed house here tonight. It was fantastic. For everybody to be on the field here and celebrating, it truly is our entire school behind us. This has been awesome.”
“Having everyone come out here is amazing,” Rundell added. “The student section was great. Seeing all the people in the bleachers making it full, it was amazing.”
With the win, the Royals are now a perfect 3-0 through three games. For a team that’s won five games in the past five seasons combined, it’s a testament to the kids and coaches buying even when times weren’t very good.
“Four years ago I took this program over and said we’re going to build from within,” Phillips said. “We’re going to do with the guys we have and do it ourselves. They all did. They bought into it. These kids who are seniors were freshmen when I said that. Four years, they’ve listened. They’ve done exactly what I’ve asked and it’s paying off for them.”
“We were the seventh and eighth graders he started it with,” Rundell said. “He started that build from within and we’ve just stuck to it. It’s finally paying off.”
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Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports