MEDFORD – This bashing blueprint was hatched decades ago.
The surging Lenape High School football team delivered the 100th career win for Tim McAneney with the same sledgehammer style the Indians coach has won with for so many years now.
But the source of this power rushing attack Lenape dominated Vineland with on Friday night was learned by Coach Mac growing up and watching his father, Vince, and his Pennsauken teams pound the ball for so many years as well.
“What matters to me is win number 101,” McAneney said to his team after top-seeded Lenape bullied No. 8 Vineland 35-0 in a South Jersey Group 5 quarterfinal that was every bit as one-sided as the final score.
Lenape (8-1) stays at home to play No. 4 Howell (9-1), a 31-17 winner over No. 5 Cherokee.
“Coach does a lot for us, to make us better, he gives us a lot of time away from his family and his life,” said senior running back JoJo Kellum, who rushed for two touchdowns and padded his season total to 23 TDs.
After the Indians grinded three rushing TDs in the first half, Lenape showed it can score in the air, too, as quarterback Matt Lajoie connected with Zack Cole on fourth down for a 5-yard touchdown pass, capping an 10-play-67 yard drive to start the third quarter.
“We knew with the wind and the cold weather it would be tough to throw, but we are a ground team,” said Lajoie after assistant coach John Martino presented the superb senior with a game ball.
Kellum added a 3-yard rushing touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and Stephen Mulville kicked his fifth extra point on this windy and cold night for the convincing win between a pair of top-ranked teams in the South Jersey Sports Digest Top Ten.
“We worked really hard all week in practice to prepare,” added Kellum, who rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and now has scored 16 touchdowns in the last five games.
Lenape, ranked No. 5 by the SJSD, rolled to its fifth-straight win after a loss to Rancocas Valley here on its home field. The Indians were coming off a 48-0 win over Notre Dame last week and looked like they would roll to a similar score by rushing for three touchdowns on its first three possessions for a 21-0 lead at the half.
Vineland, ranked No. 10 by the SJSD, suffered its second-straight defeat after starting the season with seven consecutive wins. Last week, the Clan lost 14-0 fell at home against No. 9 St. Augustine. Vineland (7-2) plays next on Thanksgiving at ancient rival Millville, ranked No. 3 in SJSD Top Ten.
Vineland was denied its first playoff win in eight appearances as Lenape rushed for 160 yards in the first half. The Clan managed just 44 total yards in the first 24 minutes.
The victory was as impressive as the margin since Vineland came into the game having allowed only 48 points and scoring 286. The Clan also boasted three Division I commits in seniors Isaih Pacheco (Rutgers), Nihym Anderson (Maryland) and Noah Sansalone (Bucknell).
“They are a talented team, but we thought we could contain them,” said senior defensive end Elijah Billings, who was dominant along with lineman Aaron Acosta, linebackers Mike Galaida and Cole and defensive back Jake Topolski.
Even though the score wasn’t close, Fighting Clan coach Dan Russo has restored the pride and the fight back to the program. The former star tight end at Vineland has built a power in his fifth season on all levels. Both the freshman and junior varsity teams are undefeated this season.
Last year, Vineland went 8-2 for just its third winning season since 1991.
Also, last season, the Fighting Clan streaked to 7-0 for their best start since 2003. The eight wins last year were the program’s most since 1984.
However, last year in the playoffs, Vineland dropped a last minute 29-27 decision to Howell at home at famed Gittone Stadium.
This game never had the chance to be as close as last year’s playoff heartbreak after Lenape converted a botched punt by Vineland when Topolski applied pressure up the middle for a 4-yard TD run by Kellum off right tackle for the sudden 7-0 lead.
Next, the Indians took advantage of a short punt and converted another short TD run, a 5-yarder by Lajoie for 14-0 lead late in first quarter.
Then, Lajoie added his second scoring run early in the second quarter with a 22-yard burst off right tackle as Lenape stormed to 21-0 lead.
Coach Mac, who spent most of his career at Bishop Eustace where he played, has certainly built a power at Lenape. The Indians, who are a staggering 36-6 since 2014, have entered the last four postseasons as the No. 1 seed, including last season when they lost in the Group 4 finals to Timber Creek.
But last year doesn’t matter now. Neither does win No. 100.
Lenape, which plays Thanksgiving against school district rival Shawnee, will go for Coach Mac’s 101st next against Howell and that truly is all that matters.
Vineland 0 0 0 0 - 0
Lenape 14 7 7 7 - 35
L - JoJo Kellum 4 run (Stephen Mulville kick)
L - Matt Lajoie 5 run (Mulville kick)
L - Lajoie 22 run (Mulville kick)
L - Zack Cole 5 pass from Lajoie (Mulville kick)
L - Kellum 4 run (Mulville kick)