Friday, November 18, 2005
By Jerome Michaels
It was like a college game played in a high school arena with the bands playing their fight songs, the cheering of the fans from both sides of the stadium and competitive football being played on the field. Whenever the Renegades from Shawnee and the Chiefs from Cherokee get together for any sport, expect a very large crowd in attendance trying their best to do what they can to make their team come out victorious. But in this South Jersey Group IV semifinals game, the home fans just couldn’t cheer loud enough for the Renegades to rally from a 13-10 deficit late in the game. The Chiefs would hold onto their three point lead and advance to the finals and play the winner of the Absegami against Pennsauken semi-finalist.
Shawnee and Cherokee have created such a must see game atmosphere that neither home stadium can accommodate the number of fans in attendance. It’s a rivalry that could be compared to some of NFL old-time battles on the field. Playing a team so many times season, after season, after season definitely indicates that each team could almost anticipate what the next play would be called on the field. The Chiefs have dominated the overall series so far, but the Shawnee have proven that it has taken the one game at a time approach to get past their nemesis. Cherokee had won their previous meeting against Shawnee during the regular season and were looking to make it two in a row to extend their eight game winning streak.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Chiefs would strike first when Mike Salvatico scored on an 8 yard touchdown run with 8:09 remaining in the half and led 7-0 after Mike Giuliano extra point attempt sailed through the uprights. But in Shawnee fashion, the Renegades would methodically march down the field highlighting their running game. Just under two and a half minutes remaining in the quarter, Evan Francks capped off Shawnee’s scoring drive with a 2 yard run and this game would be tied at the half.
Both teams came out of the locker room just as fired up as the beginning of this game. The defense would take over the majority of the second half as both teams would not be able to score a touchdown in the third quarter. But Kevin Trump would put Shawnee ahead with 17 seconds remaining by nailing a 31-yard field. It would be up to the defense to hold onto it. But a Shawnee fumble off of a punt nine minutes remaining in the game gave the Chiefs excellent field position. It only took three plays for Cherokee to go ahead in this game. Mike Salvatico burst through the offensive line and recorded a 6 yard touchdown. After the extra point attempt failed, the Chiefs’ defense would have to keep Shawnee from tying on winning this game with 8:50 remaining in this classic battle. Shawnee’s attempts would fall short and Cherokee would advance to the South Jersey Group IV title game.