by James Stitt
The Watertown-Mayer football team got a long overdue victory Friday night, defeating Glencoe-Silver Lake 28-10.
“We ended a 29 game losing streak, so that’s huge,” said Connor Donovan. “Some people were saying it was something like [1,100] days since we last won. I didn’t know it was that long, but to actually get the win feels really good.”
The Royals earned the victory with big momentum plays to stun the Panthers, but it was G-SL that nearly stunned Watertown-Mayer to start the game.
“We kind of got off to a slow start,” said Donovan. “Their first play of the game, a guy dropped a wide open touchdown. Because they’re mainly a run offense, we were all thinking run.”
The Royals regrouped and delivered a shock play of their own to set the table for their historic win. A false start nullified a G-SL play, but Donovan saw enough of the route ran by the receiver to see what was coming.
“They ran the same play before when they had the false start and I saw him break out and I just jumped it,” Donovan said. “It was a bad ball - the ball was wobbly and behind him, so I just caught it and as soon as I got it, I was like, ‘We’re winning this game boys.’”
The 70 yard interception return gave the Royals a 7-0 lead and the confidence that they could finally get a win.
“We got that momentum right away,” said Wyatt McCabe. “A lot of these games, we’re behind. This is the first game in a long time that we were ahead right away, so we kept the momentum and rode that energy for the rest of the game.”
The Royals had the momentum on their side and kept the Panthers off the scoreboard for the entire first half.
“After my pick six, we got hyped up and carried that energy throughout the whole game and played really well,” said Donovan. “Our defense was good in the first half, didn’t give them any big plays.”
The big plays were reserved for the Royals, as Donovan delivered another blow to the Panthers’ effort to get back into the game. Midway through the second quarter, quarterback Albert Rundell hit Donovan over the middle for a 38 yard touchdown to give the Royals a 14-0 lead.
“Both plays gave us momentum - we hadn’t won in a while, so we needed all of the big plays to get the sideline hyped up,” said McCabe. “We don’t have a huge sideline either, everyone is a lot bigger than us and there were not a lot of fans there, so you need all of the energy you can get from the sideline. All of those plays really hyped us up.”
Entering the game with a 2-1 record, the Panthers refused to give up, putting together a pair of scoring drives to put the game at 14-10. But the quick-strike Royals struck again, as McCabe went 75 yards on the second play of the ensuing drive to stun the Panthers. The sophomore runner took the handoff right up the middle, shedding the safety before outrunning the rest of the defense.
“The offensive line ran it perfectly - we haven’t run that play a whole lot, but they ran it perfectly,” said McCabe. “I don’t think I was touched until 10 yards down the field. They had just scored on their last two possessions, so they were starting to pick up the momentum, and that gave it right back to us.”
A fourth quarter run by Cole Lange that saw the junior cut back to the middle of the field on a toss play resulted in a game-sealing 8 yard score, giving the Royals their first win in years.
“I haven’t felt like that in a long time,” said Donovan.
The win may be surprising when seeing a 29 game losing streak end, but the Royals have seen a lot of improvement this season and have been competing in close games.
“I think we’ve been getting better every game, our first game was a close game - we lost by a touchdown, but we played pretty well,” said Donovan. “I think we’ve been getting better each week. We just put it all together last week.”
And with such a young team, the future is looking bright for the Royals.
“We’re young and we’re playing pretty well,” said McCabe. “So for the next few years we should be pretty good.”