MEDFORD – A chant of “overrated, overrated” serenaded from the home crowd midway through the second quarter after the University of Florida-bound running back was stuffed at the line of scrimmage.
On the next play, though, Iverson Clement showed why he is so special, so highly recruited and so competitive when he shushed the packed bleachers on the Lenape High School sideline.
With his angle appearing contained, Clement burst 31 yards down the right sideline to give Rancocas Valley the lead and its only touchdown for an impressive 10-7 win over the Indians.
The Friday night battle between two undefeated and ranked teams in the South Jersey Sports Digest Top Ten certainly lived up to its billing – just like Clement.
“He made good football players miss,” Lenape coach Tim McAneney said about the fleet 5-foot-11, 195-pounder who looked every bit of a major Division I recruit at running back and free safety. “He has that extra gear.”
The dazzling 31-yard touchdown run by Clement put the senior running back in the scorebook, but his two determined fourth quarter runs preserved the win for No. 10 Rancocas Valley over Lenape, ranked No. 4, in the pivotal West Jersey Football League Capitol Division game.
“That is just what I do, I play hard,” Clement said about an 8-yard run on third down and then an 11-yarder on second down for a pair of firsts on the game’s final drive against a rugged Lenape defense that hadn’t been scored on in 10 quarters going into the game. “This wasn’t about me, it was about the team.”
Well, the Red Devils picked up valuable points for the South Jersey Group 5 tournament and took over first place in the division, but Clement deserves the individual accolades. Simply, he was the difference between two talented and excellent coached teams.
“He gives us everything he has on offense and defense and I appreciate that,” said a heavily perspiring Rancocas Valley coach Dan Haussman, who looked like he just played the game himself. “He is old-school.”
Rancocas Valley (5-0) came into the packed standing-room only stadium averaging 41 points a game, but certainly settled for barely reaching double digits against Lenape, which had allowed just six points all season.
“It was a big game, but it wasn’t a championship game,” Haussman added, “we have a couple of league games left.”
Indeed, the Red Devils return home next Friday to play Winslow Township, but the magnitude of this win can’t be overstated. The game also held significant meaning for the Red Devils since last year they were stung in the game’s final minute when Lenape quarterback Matt Lajoie connected with Jake Topolski on a 67-yard dagger for a stunning and deflating 17-13 win.
“I wanted to do this for the seniors last year,” said Rancocas Valley captain Kyle Sapp, a guard and middle linebacker who seemed to be in the middle of every play.
Like Clement, Sapp had never beaten Lenape. Still, Sapp pointed to his silver footwear and said, “I’m wearing cleats signed by the seniors from last year. I did it for them.”
Rancocas Valley opened the scoring on its first possession of the game after Naseem Kendrick returned the kick 51 yards when Kyle Prescavage kicked a 32-yard field goal.
Lenape responded on its first possession by methodically marching 65 yards on 14 plays, capped by Mike Galaida’s 1-yard plunge. Nick Wilkinson kicked the point after for a 7-3 lead with 2:01 left in first quarter.
The scoring ended midway through the second quarter with Clément’s signature scoring run and Prescavage added the kick.
“I know we have a lot of athletes on our team, but we had to match their intensity,” Sapp added.
Lenape, which was coming off a bye last week, slid to 3-1. The Indians stay at home next week to play school district rival Seneca.
“We got to go back and do things better,” McAneney said. “We can’t afford to make mistakes against a team that good.”
A really good team with a difference-making player like Clement, who grinded for 145 yards on 28 punishing carries.
“He gets those deceiving extra yards,” McAneney said. “And he had it when they needed him.”
RANCOCAS VALLEY 10, LENAPE 7
Rancocas Valley 3 7 0 0 - 10
Lenape 7 0 0 0 - 7
RV - Kyle Prescavage 32 field goal
L - Mike Galaida 1 run (Nick Wilkinson kick)
RV - Iverson Clement 31 run (Prescavage kick)