MEDFORD — The paddle isn’t going anywhere.
In a decades-long rivalry between a pair of schools that sit less than 10 miles apart, it was the resurgent Medford football team that claimed its second consecutive victory in the annual Battle for the Paddle Friday night, emerging with a 35-12 victory.
“We always expect a physical game, and this year did not disappoint,” Medford coach Jerome Johannes said.
The win not only keeps the traveling trophy — a wooden oar with a four-foot-long handle extending below a paddle with both team’s logos pasted on either side — in Medford’s possession, but starts the Tigers 1-0 in Mid Southeast District White Division action as all four of Medford’s remaining regular season games will be against sub-district opponents.
Against a motivated Cardinals’ defense that was intent on stalking Medford star quarterback, Willie VonRuden, and forcing the senior to defer to his teammates, a number of Tigers rose to the occasion.
None made a bigger impact than Jerone Chavis.
Turning a season-high 29 touches into 232 yards (211 rushing, 21 receiving), the Medford senior scored three touchdowns and single-handedly carried the Tigers’ offense for long stretches. After a scoreless opening quarter, Chavis found the end zone less than 90 seconds into the second on a run of 19 yards and helped give the Tigers a 14-0 lead roughly five minutes later on a 4-yard plunge.
“With their defense focusing on Willie, that opened up big yardage for Jerone,” coach Johannes said. “He did have one long (touchdown) run in the fourth quarter, but most of his carries went for five yards or less. Our line did a great job of moving the chains and maintained field position all night long.”
After Bethlehem Academy drew within 14-6 on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Jack Jandro to Lucas Linneman at the 9:39-mark of the second quarter, VonRuden hooked up with Devon Federly for a 5-yard strike to re-established a multi-possession lead for the home-standing Tigers. Two offensive possessions later, VonRuden and Kael Hermanstorfer connected for a 38-yard touchdown and Medford’s advantage ballooned to 28-6.
Exactly 21 seconds after the Cardinals (1-3 overall, 0-1 White Division) inched within 16 points at 28-16 on a 15-yard TD run with 4:26 left in the fourth quarter, Chavis popped off a 70-yard touchdown gallop to cement the final score.
Josiah Hedensten caught a pair of big passes for 38 yards as Hermanstorfer’s only reception found the end zone.
The Tigers (3-1, 1-0), who won last season’s game 38-20, out-gained FBA, 388-268, and more than doubled the Cardinals’ in first down (23-12).
Both teams committed one turnover.
Medford 35, Bethlehem Academy 12
M—Jerone Chavis 19 run (Jacob Andrews kick), 10:35
M—Chavis 4 run (Andrews kick), 5:41
BA—Luke Linneman 51 pass from Jack Jandro (pass fail), 9:39
M—Devon Federly 5 pass from Willie VonRuden (Andrews kick), 5:44
M—Kael Hermanstorfer 38 pass from VonRuden (Andrews kick), 8:23
BA—Brady Strodman 15 run (pass fail), 4:36
M—Chavis 70 run (Andrews kick), 4:21
Medford individual stats
RUSHING (48-286-3)—Jerone Chavis 28-211-3, Willie VonRuden 15-63, Josiah Hedensten 4-11, Jack Paulson 1-1
PASSING (5-13-102-2-1)—VonRuden 5-13-102-2-1
RECEIVING (5-102-2)—Hedensten 2-38, Kael Hermanstorfer 1-38-1, Chavis 1-21, Devon Federly 1-5