Lenape can win in sunshine and warm weather, on slick artificial turf on sultry September days.
But the Indians are built for 27-degree nights, for November football on slippery, chewed-up grass fields.
“Ground game and defense. That’s Lenape football,” senior quarterback Matt Lajoie said after leading Lenape to a 35-0
victory over Vineland Friday night in the first round of the South Jersey Group 5 tournament.
LaJoie ran for two touchdowns and passed for another as Lenape (8-1), the No. 1 seed, advance to face fourth-seeded Howell
in next Fiday’s sectional semifinals.
Howell advanced with a 31-17 victory over fifth-seeded Cherokee, or “the orange school,” as Lenape’s P.A. announcer noted
The outcome was extra special for Lenape as it marked the 100th career victory for coach Tim McAneney in an illustrious
career that included stops at Bishop Eustace and Holy Cross.
McAneney, whose teams at Lenape are 36-6 since the start of the 2014 season, was presented by Lajoie with the game ball and
surrounded by celebrating players in the post-game huddle.
“They’re happy for me, but I’m happy for them,” McAneney said. “I love to watch these guys play football.
“Matty, he’s 5-foot-7. Jake [Topolski], he’s a baseball player. Aaron [Acosta], he’s undersized.
“But these guys love to play football.”
Topolski, a senior all-purpose athlete who made plays on offense, defense and special teams, said his team played a
“perfect” game in overwhelming eighth-seeded Vineland (7-2).
The Indians weren’t perfect, but they came pretty close. They never punted. They never turned over the football. They
committed just three penalties.
Lenape scored on five of six possessions, including their first three to take a 21-0 lead midway in the second quarter,
before allowing the clock to expire rather snapping the football at the end of the game.
The dominance started along the line of scrimmage.
“I give this one to the five up front,” LaJoie said of the offensive line of seniors Acosta, Lawrence Sutton, Jared
Davenport and Anthony Rutler and sophomore Jake Silver.
Operating behind that front line, Lajoie and senior running back JoJo Kellum lowered their shoulders and helped the Indians
control the football and the clock.
Kellum ran 24 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He generated the Indians’ first score on a three-yard run and last
score on a three-yard run, giving him 24 touchdowns on the season.
“Joe ran really hard tonight,” Lajoie said.
Lajoie ran 19 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a five-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Zach
“Great work up front,” McAneney said. “Gap coverage, move some people, take a five-yard gain. Nothing fancy. November
The other half of the equation was a defense that contain Vineland’s offense, which featured Rutgers-bound senior Isaih
Pacheco at quarterback and Maryland-bound Nihym Anderson at running back.
“I don’t think we’ve ever seen two backs that good,” Lajoie said.
Topolski, Acosta, Sutton and Cole led a defense that kept Vineland from moving past the Lenape 25-yard line.
“This was a huge win,” Topolski said. “Vineland has a great team. They have a great defense, great athletes over there.
Just to make a statement like that, to beat them, 35-0, shows we can play with anyone and we can beat anyone.”
Vineland 0 0 0 0 — 0
Lenape 14 7 7 7 — 35
L: JoJo Kellum 3 run (Steve Mulville kick)
L: Matt Lajoie 5 run (Mulville kick)
L: Lajoie 22 run (Mulville kick)
L: Zach Cole 5 pass from Lajoie (Mulville kick)
L: Kellum 3 run (Mulville kick)