BAM BORIA WILL BE THE BEDROCK OF CHEROKEE'S OFFENSE FOR THE NEXT TWO SEASONS
Brandon Boria cut his football teeth in fIve different cities before his freshman year at Cherokee High School in Marlton.
The 5-foot-8, 175-pound blur of a running back played on recreational football teams in Arizona, Alaska, New Mexico, Texas and Springfield, Virginia dating back to when was “six or seven” years old as Boria remembers.
It may not have been fair, but Boria had to prove himself to his coaches at every stop.
"My dad always talks to the coaches when I get to place," Boria said in a recent phone interview with Footballstories. "But then again you can't really listen to a dad telling them about his kid. At the end of the day, it's up to me to prove myself. I just have to be myself and play football, and you've got to work for it too. That gets me places"
The junior-to-be Boria also has one of the coolest nicknames any football player could ask for.
No one calls him Brandon, no one. Since he was little, he has always been known as “Bam,” short for “Bamm-Bamm,” the son Barney Rubble from the Flintstones cartoons.
Bam said his brother Danny had trouble saying “Brandon.” The rest was history.
“Ever since I was a baby, my brother couldn’t say Bran, Bran so he translated it to Bamm-Bamm. Ever since then I’ve been 'Bam' everywhere I go.”
Bam laughed when asked if he knew of the Flintstones character. “I still have [Bamm-Bamm's] poster here in my room.”
GROWING UP IN A MILITARY FAMILY
Bam's father, Kenny Boria was a career military official in the Air Force.
It is not uncommon for military families to be asked to relocate as the needs of the country change.
His son Bam has excelled in football and his other aforementioned son Danny excelled in cross country and track, but won't be running in college.
Boria was asked if it's been fun to watch his kids playing sports at a high level.
"It is and it isn't," Mr. Boria said. "We're a military family. I just retired last year. We have always traveled. Bam started playing football in Virginia, then New Mexico. He also played on some traveling teams in Phoenix and Texas."
Mr. Boria, who spent his adult life in the Air Force, said Bam started playing football in Virginia for the Springfield Youth football club, a recreational team. Bam was about seven years old.
"He won a championship there and never stopped," Boria said. "Before the championship game, the Springfield head coach said, 'if we win, I'll give the game ball to the most valuable player.' Bam played offensive line, defensive back and returned kicks."
Mr. Boria obviously enjoys telling this story ... he remembers all the details.
"When I tucked him in that night, he goes, 'I'm going to win that football.' Boria said. "I said, 'OK, good luck.' I reminded Bam he was a lineman and they don't throw the ball to linemen, especially when you're seven years old. The kid ended up scoring two touchdowns, broke the game open and won the game ball."
It seems Bam just found a way to stand out, scoring on a kick return and a pick-six. Boria said the Springfield coach admitted after the game that had he known Bam was that fast, he would have been the running back all year.
"The next year we moved to New Mexico and Bam became the running back," Mr. Boria said. "He won three championships there. In fact in one game he scored seven touchdowns. After that year, he's always been the star player. He's always had the inspiration that he was going to always get better."
BAM LEARNS HE CAN PLAY WITH THE BIG BOYS Bam said he was 70 or 80 pounds when he played left guard for that Springfield, Virginia Rec team.
Yes, he remembers the two touchdowns and he definitely remembers winning the MVP football from the coach. "I still got it hanging up in my room," said Bam, who lists former Detroit running back Barry Sanders and Giants running back Sequon Barkley as his favorite NFL players past and present.
The Boria family finally settled down in South Jersey and enrolled his son at Cherokee High School. For the last time, Bam set out to prove his worth.
After playing part time in 2019 as a freshman Bam had a breakout season in 2020. He rushed 102 times for 888 yards and 11 touchdowns in just six games.
Bam also recorded six receptions for 102 yards and two more touchdowns. Because of COVID-19, the regular season was cut short and there were no official NJSIAA playoff games.
The Chiefs finished 5-2 after a 5-0 start. Bam missed the season finale for medical reasons, a 36-35 loss to St. Joseph Regional (Montvale).
Bam was asked how disappointing was it not to have a full season and real playoffs?
"I thought it was the worst thing, especially for the seniors, the Class of 2021," Bam said. "I love those guys. I played with them last year too. Knowing that my whole team, all these varsity guys are gone, we have this whole new team coming up...finishing the way we did, it wasn't what I wanted for the seniors."
Four of the Chiefs' starting massive offensive line will graduate this spring. The lone returner is Aidan "Gus" Geisenheimer. Bam said he knows that Cherokee will reload the line and not miss a beat...or a block.
Bam predicted his fellow juniors Jake Ellis, Dominic Dechurch should do well on the line. "I'm really stoked to play with those two guys, along with Gus."
Bam also said he will look forward to seeing his head coach on a regular basis.
Brian Glatz made it back for practices by the end of the 2020 season. He had been dealing with Cancer and was coaching the Chiefs through a pad when he underwent treatment.
The school’s third-year head coach, Glatz has been recovering from lymphoma since early summer. He went through four rounds of heavy chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant in October.
"It was awesome," Bam said. "I remember him coming back. He showed up for practice. He came out of nowhere. We said, is that coach Glatz? He was wearing a mask, a hat and a hoodie so you really couldn't tell. At the moment I said, 'that's coach Glatz?' It was and it was really great to see him getting better."
2021 SEASON GOALS Bam said he has had talks with his Cherokee coaches about playing defense his junior season.
"I've always thought about it," Bam said. "I want to see how it goes this offseason. Sometimes I want to, sometimes I don't want to. I'll probably rotate in on defense next year, probably DB, free safety."
Bam said he is working on getting better and helping the Chiefs make a long playoff run. Bam said because of COVID restrictions, he works out on his own and with Chad Hallett of Adrenaline Sports Performance & Personal Training in Cherry Hill.
"Bam's potential is limitless! He already has the size of a college back as a sophomore," Hallett said of his young pupil. "He has already emerged as one of the top backs in the area and if he was able to have a full season, I think he would've set some records. Bam will do real well at the next level."
Bam said he wants to start training with his teammates sooner than later.
"I want to have a better season than I did this year," Bam said. "I just want to get bigger and faster and stronger. I want to be a leader on this new team coming up. I'm working with Chad, lifting on my own a lot, getting that in and working my mobility, speed and strength a lot."
Bam said his dad was handling any contact with college recruiters. He admits he hasn't talked to any program yet directly.
Rosters are jammed because the NCAA is allowing players an extra year of eligibility because of the lost year with so many schedules cancelled and players opting out over COVID concerns.
But there is no question that if there is a full season in 2021, Bam won't have to prove himself to anyone anymore. *
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii