The Royalton Royals football team met a road block in the 2021 Class AA High School playoff bracket.
A familiar foe, the Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles High School football team came to Collegeville on the campus of SJU for a chance at a date with destiny in a game that would decide who would go to state.
The Royals have been money offensively all season long, but that would prove not to be the case in this very lopsided matchup.
The Royals defeated Paynesville in the opening round of the high school playoffs.
Eden Valley-Watkins got to the semifinals round by defeating Kimball High in the opening round of the high school playoffs.
These two teams met earlier in the year on Oct. 8 when Eden Valley-Watkins was demolished in all phases of the game by Royalton in a 30-8 trouncing.
Coming off blowout wins over EVW, Rockford and Pierz, it looked on paper like Royalton should have handled the Eagles rather routinely.
However, between the numbers the Royals looked like a totally different team than what fans were used to seeing.
The scoring got out of hand early for the Royals and they just couldn’t stop the bleeding.
EVW opened up the scoring with a 5-yard passing score and a successful two-point conversion to give the Eagles an early 8-0 lead in the first quarter.
In the second, it was much of the same for the Royals as they couldn’t do much with the ball.
The boys were forced into a lot of third down and long yardage situations leading to eventual punts by quarterback Drew Yourczek.
The Eagles added two more 1-yard rushing touchdown runs in the second quarter, one in the beginning of the quarter and one just before halftime.
The Eagles converted the two-point conversion for the first score in the first quarter and missed on the second attempt of the second quarter.
In the third quarter, the Eagles still hadn’t allowed Royalton to score and added another touchdown score on a 38-yard pass and a successful two-point conversion.
In the fourth, the Eagles added a 4-yard touchdown pass and a failed two-point conversion to give the Eagles a 36-0 lead midway in the fourth quarter.
On the next Royals’ possession, they were finally able to break the goal-line for a Connor Carlson 2-yard touchdown run and a failed two-point conversion.
EVW responded with a 58-yard run right down the middle of the field for the Eagles’ final touchdown.
This game was an absolute outlier for Royalton, who looked totally outmatched by the Eagles, something not seen at all this year from this team.
The Royals had an amazing year in 2021. They were physical, fast and smart on both sides of the ball. Yourczek played with his heart on his sleeve and even when the game was out of reach, he still was encouraging the guys to give it their all.
Anyone who has ever dressed on Friday nights in their varsity game day jerseys knows that this is an emotional game, and it brings out feelings from deep within.
Royalton quarterback Yourczek was overcome with emotion following the game as he hugged it out with parents, coaches and teammates while fighting back tears.
Yourczek completed one of five pass attempts for a total of 37 yards.
Rushing leader was Carlson who had 13 carries for 32 yards, while teammate Will Gorecki caught one pass for 37 yards.
The Royals had 128 yards on 37 plays with 37 passing yards and 91 rushing yards in the ball game.
The Royals picked up seven first downs and converted on five of 10 third downs and zero of one attempt on fourth down in the game.
Head Coach Jamie Morford deserves all the credit for turning the Royalton football program into a winning powerhouse in the state of Minnesota.
“We just didn’t come out ready to play tonight, we beat those guys earlier so I think there was some revenge factor by them but really we just didn’t show up prepared to play a game today,” he said.
“It was just that we dug ourselves a hole early in the game and we just couldn’t dig ourselves out of it,” he said.
“I told the seniors that I love them, they mean a lot to me and wish them nothing but the best in whatever they want to do. We always want our seniors to succeed and we hope they learned some valuable lessons along the way,” he said.
“I told the guys that are going to be seniors next year that they have to be just like these seniors here,” Morford said.
Royalton finished with an overall record of 8-2 and a league conference record of 2-0 which was good for first place in the Mid State Sub 2 division.