No, this is not a typo or misinformation: the Kent-Meridian Royals scored 64 points in a league game, and beat a team with a better record than their own by a 38 point margin.
Kent-Meridian expected a tight game, so a blow out? Surprised even the players.
“I was expecting a really close game,” said Kyle Brown of the Sept. 28 game. “We didn’t expect a blowout though.”
A program with so much turmoil and an astonishing lack of success in recent years put it all together on the field for a 64-26 victory over the Auburn Mountainview Lions. Coming into this season, according to some around the game, the Lions were predicted to finish second in the league. The Royals? Dead last.
On Thursday night, the Royals flipped that script on its head. After losing two in a row to Todd Beamer and Auburn Riverside, Kent-Meridian may have even flipped the NPSL on its head — and their season for that matter.
“In those two games we started off hot and let our cockiness get to us. We came into this game and our coaches did a great job keeping us humble,” said Jayden Saelee.
First year Head Coach Randy Robbins is changing the culture on not only the gridiron, but the school itself. There is an excitement about this program that hasn’t been there in years, and the fans and players can feel the tides turning.
“It was so much fun. When you reach that high, it’s just surreal. There’s no better feeling, honestly,” Theo Carter said.
The last time the Royals scored over 60 was 2015. The 64 point mark Thursday was the most since 2015, in that 2015 game the Royals put up a 70 burger on Decatur.“I think the coaches did a great job getting us ready and we weren’t expecting anything different,” said Saelee.
For all of the seniors on the roster, they have never experienced a game like this. Well, they have, but they had been in the Lions’ shoes. Take even just last season against Auburn Mountainview, when the Lions handed the Royals one of their worst defeats, 40-8.
“It feels like a dream,” Brown said.
His quarterback added on: “I never experienced this like having fun, ‘Hey let’s put this guy in and him in’… It was so fun to relax and sit there and get our young guys in there,” Saelee added.
It’s a culmination of things. From coaching consistency to Robbins emphasizing how you treat your teammates, discipline and just wanting to go out and play football. Robbins even has his quarterback coach as his offensive line coach, and that unit helped them tremendously in the win over the Lions.
“They have been the foundation of everything, they do it right. I think it’s the fruits of having a strong foundation,” said Robbins.
Even in past games they’re maturing as a collective for the better. In the 48-28 defeat to Auburn Riverside a week prior, a Raven got in the face of a Royal player. And to AD Lisa Kelley, that is the first time she can recall there was no retaliation back.
“It’s easier to fight back, rather than show discipline. That’s exactly what we’re trying to build here,” said Robbins.
Another thing is the talent on the roster has been given the ability to show itself.
“KM has always had the talent, but no one wanted to show out because of our history. But this year, Coach Rob did a great job of recruiting everybody that he knew would be good,” Brown said.
Quarterback Jayden Saelee has stuck with the blue and red through the thick and thin. Along with his 4X100 partner and wide receiver Kyle Brown, he has given everything to Kent-Meridian. These seniors and players who have been through so much are ready to be the foundation for this program.
“It sets the tone for everybody else because now they want to be like us. They don’t want to get blown out, they want to keep going. As a team, as a unit, no matter the record, it sets a tone for those sports,” said Saelee.
The defense created six turnovers against the Lions and scored 14 points directly off of those turnovers. Davontae Redding scooped up a fumble and ran it 85 yards, and Ashton Amari ran an interception back for the two defensive scores.
“We kept our composure. Last couple of weeks, we let our emotions get the best of us. We had to deal with adversity…We came out this week ready to keep our composure, put up a battle and stay calm,” Brown said.
It’s been a while since the Royals have been able to get valuable reps for backup players in a winning scenario. Having fun is such a big part in sport, and for the Royals, they are starting to get that joy back in playing the game.
“I was out here just having fun. Being with my guys, my brothers, felt amazing. It was great, it was a great game. I loved it,” said senior Theo Carter.
Coach Robbins, however, was still in business mode after the game.
“I didn’t get to have any fun. I had to tell people to be quiet,” he said with a laugh.
For fans and students, they can enjoy the win more than the players and coaches because in eight days, they are right back to it against a tough Auburn team.
“We just have to stay focused on our week. We can’t worry about future weeks, just focus on that day. Win the day,” said Brown.
“Our coaches challenge us to grenade. Next play. Throw it out, as soon as it happens throw it out. The longer you hold on to it the more it will explode right next to you,” said Saelee.
The last time Kent-Meridian had a record at .500 was that 2015 season. The upcoming match up against Auburn will be the 114th meeting between the two schools as Kent-Meridian tries to get back to the even benchmark this season.