Phil Anastasia: Braves make statement with win over Cherokee

Williamstown fullback John Chamberlin gets past Cherokee's Quinn Mehigan. The sophomore scored four of his team's five TDs, on runs of 10, 9, and 18 yards, plus a 1-yard plunge.
Williamstown fullback John Chamberlin gets past Cherokee's Quinn Mehigan. The sophomore scored four of his team's five TDs, on runs of 10, 9, and 18 yards, plus a 1-yard plunge. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)

Williamstown doesn't have the heritage the Chiefs have, but still won, 35-24, in the rain.

Posted: September 24, 2011

Now it's a rivalry.

Now it's real.

Now the rebels have scrambled over the top of the castle walls.

Don't misunderstand. Williamstown's impressive 35-24 victory over Cherokee on a sloppy, slippery Friday night doesn't put the Braves on equal ground with the Chiefs.

Williamstown can't hold a candle to Cherokee's past.

The Braves just want to compete with the Chiefs in the present, and in the future.

"This is where we belong," Williamstown coach Frank Fucetola said of the West Jersey American Division. "This is where we're going to stay."

Cherokee, the No. 2 team in The Inquirer Top 10, still is the standard for large public-school football programs. One bad game - and by the Chiefs' standards, this was a bad game - doesn't change that.

But this was a signature victory for No. 9 Williamstown, all the same.

And with all those young players running around for the Braves - especially sophomore fullback John Chamberlin, who scored four touchdowns, along with sophomore two-way back Marquis Little and junior linebacker/tight end Buddy Brown - it's clear this program is here to stay.

"I don't think they have a weak point," said Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan, whose team's winning streak was snapped at 15 games. "They're big so you can't push them around. They are fast as anything. And they are well coached."

This game was the reason Williamstown wanted out of the old Tri-County Royal and into the new West Jersey Football League. The Braves wanted to play Washington Township and Eastern and Lenape and Cherokee, most of all.

"They are the team everybody talked about," said Chamberlin, a 5-9, 195-pound power back who gained 106 yards and scored those four touchdowns on just 14 carries.

Fucetola and his assistants and his players and most of the program's supporters - other than those enthusiastic folks who tend to get carried away - know this is just one game and that no program is defined by one game.

Cherokee is still Cherokee.

Williamstown is still Williamstown.

But now it's a rivalry. Now, a rising power has finally beaten an old power.

The Braves are 10-3 since the formation of the WJFL. They are 3-0 this season, and clearly among the top contenders to win the South Jersey Group 4 title.

The Braves broke to a 21-0 lead. They held a 137-2 edge in yards after one quarter.

Their speed advantage was obvious, as Little and senior Chris Inge (11 carries, 92 yards) kept skirting the corner and Chamberlin kept pounding inside.

Their big guys were fast, too, as Brown and Rashon Pleasents (two sacks) were all over the field as outside linebackers.

"We got beat by a better football team," Mehigan said.

Cherokee still is a top program. The Chiefs know how to answer challenges, to respond to rivals.

And in that strong and speedy blue-and-white team from that sprawling township off Route 42 deep in Gloucester County, they have one now.

Williamstown 14 14 7 7 – 35

Cherokee 0 10 6 8 – 24

W: John Chamberlin 10 run (Mike Burke kick)

W: Chamberlin 9 run (Burke kick)

W: Chris Inge 8 run (Burke kick)

C: Zaire Williams 3 run (Ken Ravel kick)

C: FG Ravel 31

W: Chamberlin 18 run (Burke kick)

C: Bill Cummiskey 1 run (kick fail)

W: Chamberlin 1 run (Burke kick)

C: Williams 3 run (Jake Powell pass from Cummiskey)

Contact staff writer Phil Anastasia at 856-779-3223,,

or @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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