By Phil Anastasia
Training camp confidential: Cherokee
Coach: P.J. Mehigan
Last year: 11-1, won final 9 games and captured S.J. 5 title
Schedule: Washington Twp., Timber Creek, at Eastern, bye, at Williamstown, at Lenape, Shawnee, at Rancocas Valley, Cherry Hill East, Seneca (Thanksgiving)
Player to watch: Senior Dan Iannone (pictured). The 6-foot-2, 255-pound Iannone is a three-year starter on both sides of the football. He is one of just four returning starters for a Cherokee team that will rely heavily on his play and leadership. Iannone is a top run-blocker at right tackle and a disruptive force along the defensive line. He is perhaps the strongest player in Cherokee history with a 425-pound bench press, 540-pound squad and 315-pound power clean. He has an offer from Navy but also has been involved in the recruiting proccess with Delaware, Rutgers, Temple, Villanova and others. "When in doubt, we'll run right," Mehigan said of running behind Iannone.
Outlook: On paper, this is a rebuilding season for the Chiefs. But Cherokee still is expected to contend for the WJFL American and S.J. 5 titles. Leading the way will be seniors such as Iannone and RB Marc Woodard (5-10, 170), who gained 683 yards last season and scored 8 TDs. Perhaps the team's most valuable player is junior QB/LB Evan Powell (6-1, 215), whom Mehigan regards as perhaps the best linebacker in Cherokee history. Powell is more runner than passer as a quarterback, although he has a strong arm. Other key returners include WR/DB/K Jesse Streb (5-10, 170) and DE Jordan Krug (6-2, 200) as well as senior OG William Clarkson (5-11, 185) and senior WR/DB Max Hilton-Lovett (5-11, 170). Among the young players to watch are sophomore DBs Conor Ashton and Jon Lovett.
Fast fact: Cherokee has won nine South Jersey titles in three groups. The Chiefs won the Group 3 title in 1981 and 1982; the Group 4 title in 1985, 1990, 1993, 2005, 2009 and 2010; and the Group 5 title in 2013.
Quote: "We have a lot of good players. They just need to get some varsity experience," Iannone said of many of his teammates.
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