By MARK TRIBLE

Glory Days Football Writer

EVESHAM TOWNSHIP — With 1 minute, 6 seconds left in the first quarter, the home crowd held its collective breath here at William H. Foltz Stadium.

Down on the turf after a 29-yard run, No. 28 writhed in pain. His ankle turned at the end of the play.

“I think it got caught, trapped and rolled over,” the injured player said. “I was scared, I thought I was going to get up and look at it and it would be facing the wrong way.

“I was like, “Ah, no, not like this.’ But then it was, ‘Ah, whatever, it’s not that bad, just power through it.’”

Cherokee junior tailback Brandon “Bam” Boria did more than just power through it. He punished Kingsway for the next two quarters in a 28-7 triumph, the third consecutive victory on the ledger for the Chiefs (5-2).

There are some extremely talented backs in South Jersey. It would be a chore to debate that any are better than Boria. If anyone wants evidence, show them the tape from Friday.

He scored from 21 yards out in the first half to make it 7-0, where the points stood into the start of the fourth quarter.

On the inaugural snap of that final frame, Boria made the highlight reel run that dropped the same jaws that had been clenched in worry an hour before.

Allow the maestro to explain what happened.

“I read the outside linebacker,” Boria explained. “He got blocked and I cut outside, and I’m running.

“I’m getting grabbed and I’m like, ‘Alright, I can probably break this,’ I broke it, I got low, saw one guy coming and stepped over his arm. I kept running and I’m looking back wondering, ‘Did I just do that? That didn’t feel right.’ There’s no way that just happened.”

It did, all 58 yards to the end zone. From there, the rest of this tussle became mathematic. Boria didn’t touch the field again. He finished with 21 carries for 215 yards and that pair of touchdowns.

The performance came on a night when points were scarce and defensive stands the norm. That didn’t apply to the 16-year-old phenom. Through three quarters, the Dragons (3-4) gained 91 yards. Boria racked up 157 over the same span.

“He’s an animal, I just have no words,” senior Mike Muckensturm, who added a pick-six late in the game, said. “The kid had four people on his back, spins around twice and goes for a touchdown.

“He comes back and plays with an injured ankle. That just speaks about who he really is as a player. He makes plays out of nothing.”

In the four games since his club fell to Washington Township, Boria has rushed for 1,056 yards.

“He’s got a mentality, which is why he was able to play as a freshman,” coach Brian Glatz said. “That doesn’t happen here.

“You saw the run he broke where he broke however many tackles. That’s just that mentality of getting the next one. It’s a motor in his head that just goes.”

Some of his jaunts ended on a hop to help counter the pain. It fit right into an old punch line about star players — him on one leg is better than most on two.

Boria is within sight of Cherokee’s all-time single-season rush record of 1,921 yards — set by Art Hart in 1994. He now needs 547 yards to break that.

The accolades continue to pile up for him — and rightfully so. Yet as a whole, Glatz and Co. have coalesced down the stretch with some unsung heroes as well. Christian Park’s incredible interception set up the first points — he kept concentration as the ball bounced around off his body as he dove to the turf.

Bill Westerby terrorized the Kingsway backfield from his spot on the defensive line.

“I feel like I did a lot on those fourth-down and big plays,” Westerby said. “I did my job, that’s all I need to do.”

Part of that job came when his defense stood tall late in the first half on a red-zone stop that forced a field goal. It sailed wide right and so, too, did one of the Dragons’ best chances while the game stayed within reach.

In a South Jersey Group 5 bracket that is wide open, the Chiefs’ defense on Friday demonstrated what it can do to help push toward more orange glory.

With Boria in the backfield, the ingredients are there for postseason success.

“I’m a fighter and that’s what I want from my team,” Glatz said. “We just fight to battle, to get better, play after play no matter what’s going on.

“We’ve got to continue to work to improve to be our best.”

It summed up what the coach wants out of his alma mater’s latest edition. The pride, the intensity, the Cherokee way.

All of it embodied on a single play — Boria to the right. Hobbled. Worn. Broken tackles. On to pay dirt. 

Mark Trible covers high school football for Glory Days Magazine. Check out his weekly Facebook Live show every Wednesday at 7 p.m. The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show can be seen at facebook.com/acglorydays. You can also take in Mark’s “Hat’s Off” podcast every Sunday at 9 a.m. at our Facebook page.