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Football: Cherry Hill West beats Cherry Hill East

With his team gathered around him on the football field for the last time, Brian Wright offered words of appreciation and acknowledgement.

The Cherry Hill West football coach also wanted to give his players a tangible symbol of their latest accomplishment but the spoils of the team's imposing victory over Cherry Hill East on Thanksgiving Eve was nowhere to be found.

"I would give you 'The Boot' but I don't know where it is," Wright said of the Al DiBart Memorial Trophy, a bronzed old-school, high-top cleat on a wooden plaque that is awarded to the winner of this annual clash of cross-town rivals.  "But I can tell you where it's going to be for the next year: 2101 West Chapel Avenue on the west side of town."

For the fourth year in a row and eighth time in the last 10 years, the boot belongs to the team in purple.

Behind the play of standout seniors Sameer Parks, Harrison Hand and Lorenzo Hernandez, Cherry Hill West rolled to a 40-0 victory before a large crowd on a cool, clear night in Jonas C. Morris Stadium.

"This is the greatest feeling," Hand said of finishing his career with a victory over his school's archrival.

With the victory, Cherry Hill West finished with an 8-2 record, the program's best mark since the 1967 team went 9-0.

"Think about that," Wright told his players after the game.

Hand and several other Cherry Hill West seniors were emotional as they exchanged hugs and handshakes on the field after the game.

"This is the last time playing with my brothers," said Hand, a sleek wide receiver/defensive back who has official visits in December to Temple and Rutgers.

Hand returned a pair of punts for touchdowns. He actually returned three to the end zone but the first one was called back for a block in the back.

"I was surprised they kept kicking it to me," Hand said. "But I was like, 'OK, if you're going to kick it, I'll take it.'"

Parks was a force on both side of the football. He scored on a 55-yard catch-and-run for the game's first touchdown, and he also was part of a dominating defensive line that limited Cherry Hill East's offense.

Hernandez must have had 15 tackles, maybe 20. Seriously. He seemed to make every other tackle for the Lions, many of them in the backfield.

Hernandez also returned a fumble for a touchdown and partially blocked a punt.

"I knew it was my last game and I was just going to do my thing," Hernandez said.

Hernandez confirmed after the game that he has committed to attend Villanova on a football scholarship.

"If he was two inches taller, he would be one of the biggest recruits in the state," Wright said of the 6-foot, 250-pound Hernandez. "He's the best defensive tackle in South Jersey."

Cherry Hill East (0-10) played a solid defensive game -- three of Cherry Hill West's touchdowns were returns -- and the Cougars got a gritty performance from senior quarterback Yusef Gordon.

"He was out there playing his heart out," Hernandez said of Gordon.

This was a tricky game from an emotional standpoint for the Lions, a team that started 7-0 and then lost the de facto division title game to Camden Catholic and the first-round South Jersey Group 4 tournament game to Highland in successive weeks.

Wright gave his players off much of the following week, hoping they could re-charge in time for one last game against the team in red.

The Lions were far from sharp. But they were able to put together enough big plays to register the most points in a game in the history of the series that began in 1969 and to win by the largest margin of victory.

Wright said the Lions' senior class "put this football team on the map" and left a lasting legacy.

"These are the guys people are going to talk about," Wright said. "Their names are on the wall."

Cherry Hill West 13 6 7 14 -- 40

Cherry Hill East  0 0 0 0 -- 0

CHW: Sameer Parks 55 pass from Monte Williams (run fail)

CHW: Harrison Hand 29 punt return (Ryan Mailahn kick)

CHW: Nick Divietro 1 run (run fail)

CHW: Lorenzo Hernandez 18 fumble return (Mailahn kick)

CHW: Hand 45 punt return (Mailahn kick)

CHW: Terrell Saint John 10 run (Mailahn kick)

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