Lenape faces crucial matchup with Eastern

Lenape's James Kennedy (19) in action against Washington Township. The 3-4 Indians are in position to qualify for the South Jersey Group 5 tournament.
Lenape's James Kennedy (19) in action against Washington Township. The 3-4 Indians are in position to qualify for the South Jersey Group 5 tournament. (DAVID SWANSON / Staff)
Posted: November 05, 2013

It's November.

It's getting colder.

It's getting darker.

And Lenape is preparing to play a big football game.

"What more can you ask for than that?" Lenape coach Tim McAneney said.

Lenape set the stage for the program's biggest game in several seasons with a 28-22 win over Rancocas Valley on Saturday.

The victory improved Lenape's record to 3-4 and put the Indians in position to qualify for the South Jersey Group 5 tournament with a victory over fourth-ranked Eastern (7-1) Friday at 6 p.m. in a game that will be televised by the Comcast Network.

"I think every football game is meaningful," McAneney said. "But when you get to play a game like this at this time of the year, it's huge for our kids."

Lenape would receive the maximum number of power points possible with a victory on Friday - six for the win, five for Eastern's group size and 21 as residuals for Eastern's first seven victories for a total of 32.

That likely would be enough to vault the Indians into the tournament for the first time since 2002.

Lenape will enter the game as an undaunted underdog. The Indians beat the Vikings, 19-18, last season and have been toughened by a demanding schedule.

"We lost [the previous two games] to Williamstown and Timber Creek," McAneney said. "I don't care if you're losing to Alabama and the Broncos, nobody likes to lose."

Against Rancocas Valley (4-3), which is the West Jersey Football League's Colonial Division champion, Lenape built a 21-0 halftime lead behind senior running back Joel Bartow, who scored a pair of touchdowns.

The Indians stretched their advantage to 28-0, then held off a Red Devils' charge thanks in large part to a big play in the fourth quarter by junior punter Jarry Jones.

"The snap goes over his head, he runs it down and gets off a 30-yard punt," McAneney said. "It was the best play of his career. We talk about making plays. That was a play."

Century City. Cherokee's P.J. Mehigan won his 100th game as the Chiefs beat Pennsauken, 48-15, on Saturday.

Mehigan has a 100-28 record in his 12th season at his alma mater.

"I always tell the kids not to get caught up in individual stats," Mehigan said. "It's just a number."

Although he's reluctant to focus on his career in the middle of a season, Mehigan said he reminds himself "every day" that he's fortunate to be able to coach at Cherokee.

"I remember going to Cherokee football games as a little kid with my father," Mehigan said. "I love this place. I've basically spent my life here. I realize how lucky I am to be here."

Third-ranked Cherokee (6-1) looms as one of the favorites in the South Jersey Group 5 tournament. Mehigan has coached the Chiefs to sectional titles in 2005, 2009, and 2010.

"I like where we are right now," Mehigan said. "We can always get better. But we've got a great group of seniors who have really stepped up."

Super substitute. Millville senior Ryquell Armstead has made a remarkable impact for the Thunderbolts in the last two games as a replacement for junior Rob Ennis.

Armstead has run for 576 yards and seven touchdowns in victories over Egg Harbor Township and Oakcrest.

"He's been a good running back his whole life," Millville coach Jason Durham said of Armstead. "But we moved him to wide receiver so we could get him and Rob on the field at the same time."

With Ennis nursing a bone bruise in his leg, Armstead ran for 301 yards and three touchdowns against Egg Harbor and 275 yards and four touchdowns against Oakcrest.

Durham said Ennis likely will be cleared to play for the No. 8 Thunderbolts (5-2) in Friday's game at No. 10 Hammonton (6-1).

"It gives us a lot of confidence knowing we can use both of them," Durham said.

On the brink. Cherry Hill West (4-3) can qualify for the playoffs for the first time in the history of the program with a victory over Camden Catholic (3-4) on Friday.

If the Irish win, the Lions will be watching the scoreboard as their fate likely will be decided by the results of Clearview's game against Washington Township as well as Moorestown's game against Paul VI.

Cherry Hill West coach Brian Wright said senior star Rodney Williams, a Syracuse recruit who has missed the last two games (both losses) with a leg injury, is "progressing nicely" and could be available on Friday.

"We'll see how he continues to progress," Wright said.


panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

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