BRADENTON -- The greatest challenge facing the Saint Stephen's football team during its regular-season home opener had more to do with Mother Nature than the opponent.
The Falcons were supposed to clash with Citrus Park Christian on Friday night, but lightning and inclement weather forced the teams to reconvene Saturday morning at Palma Sola Park.
Safe to say the change in schedule had no ill effect on the Falcons, who rolled to a 64-6 win.
"Saturday games after Friday delays, they're a classic time to come out flat," said Saint Stephen's coach Tod Creneti, "especially against a team playing their first game. We knew that they would be up."
So Creneti told the players to wake up early Saturday and report to campus by 9 a.m. The team hopped on a bus and were at Palma Sola Park by 10.
It worked: The Falcons led the Eagles, playing their first game of 11-man football after competing in the seven-man variety, 51-0 at the half.
Saint Stephen's stayed grounded, attempting just one pass. But Jordon Murrell (140 rushing yards, three touchdowns) led a running game that chewed up 361 yards on 26 carries.
Griffin Donnelly (68 yards, three carries) and Luc Goeders (58 yards, five carries) scored for Saint Stephen's (1-1), which has split its last six regular-season games dating back to last season. Michael Burtch and Jeremy Jackman also contributed touchdown runs.
"We've been talking to our kids about controlling what they can and play hard regardless of the circumstances and play hard regardless of the opponent." Crenti said. "And we are focused on being disciplined and giving a great effort. I felt our effort was there (Saturday), though we weren't as disciplined as we need to be."
The Falcons were relentless on defense, too, limiting the Eagles to 50 total yards -- even though Citrus Park's Jose Motta had a 90-yard touchdown run -- and scoring points when Donnelly and Zach Kanter scooped and scored on second-quarter fumbles.
Donnelly also had an interception.
"It's always nice to get points on defense. I think that gets the kids excited about playing defense," Creneti said, "about playing hard, and when they see good things happen, it certainly re-enforces the things they're being taught."
The Falcons hits the road Friday when they head to Winter Haven to meet Trinity Prep for a 5 p.m. kickoff.
"I think our kids feel better about themselves when they take the field," Creneti said. "They're expecting to be successful, and that's something we need to build on going forward."