By Phil Anastasia
The first running play went for five yards.
The second for 10 yards.
The third for 27 yards.
"We wanted to show everybody we could get back to the old-school Cherokee power running game," Cherokee senior running back Matt Stickney said after the Chiefs' 45-0 victory over Washington Township in a West Jersey Football League American Division game on Saturday.
Cherokee's offensive line set the tone for the dominant victory, clearing the way for Stickney (pictured), junior tailback Marc Woodard and senior fullback Juan Ibarrondo to combine for 237 rushing yards in the first half.
The Chiefs, the No. 6 team in The Inquirer Top 25, also got interception returns for touchdowns by senior Zach Andes and sophomore Evan Powell in running their record to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the division.
No. 22 Washington Township fell to 3-2 overall and 1-2 and lost standout senior all-purpose player Andrew O'Neill to a leg injury in the second quarter.
Washington Township coach Mark Wechter said O'Neill should be able to play in the team's next game, Oct. 26 at Cherry Hill East.
"This is a perfect time for our bye," Wechter said of his team, which has been buffeted by a series of injuries. "We need to get healthy."
Cherokee spent two weeks stewing in frustration after a 13-10 loss to No. 4 Williamstown on Sept. 27.
"We wanted that game so bad," Stickney said of the loss to Williamstown. "Then we had the bye so it just sat there and lingered. And this game was Saturday, so we had to wait an extra day. We wanted to get rid of that taste."
Cherokee got great work from its offensive line of center Luke Kringler, guards Brett Wojtkowiak and Shane Kelley and tackles Chase Hoger and Dan Iannone.
The Chiefs operated for much of the game in a power formation with two tight ends in Jake Powell and Matt Curry.
"It was on us," Kringler said of the offensive line. "We came out in the first drive and took control."
The Chiefs built a 17-0 lead as Woodard and Stickney took turns ripping off big runs through the Washington Township secondary.
Woodard gained 119 of his 122 yards in the first half. Stickney gained all 96 of his yards in the first half.
"Our offensive line just manhandled them," Stickney said.
Cherokee broke the game open when Andes and Powell returned interceptions for touchdowns within a span of one minute, 46 seconds late in the first half.
"That was a back-breaker for them," Cherokee coach P.J. Mehigan said.
Cherokee 10 21 7 7 -- 45
Washington Twp. 0 0 0 0 -- 0
C: Matt Stickney 5 run (Ken Ravel kick)
C: Ravel 22 FG
C: Trevor Osler 2 run (Ravel kick)
C: Zach Andres 31 inteception return (Ravel kick)
C: Evan Powell 47 interception return (Ravel kick)
C: Rob Agnoni 26 pass from Osler (Ravel kick)
C: Mike White 1 run (Ravel kick)
-- Contact Phil Anastasia at email@example.com
-- Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter