PRINCETON: Tough opener for PHS football


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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
The Princeton High School football team opened the season with plenty of optimism.
And that optimism carried right through the first three plays of last Saturday’s season-opening game against Hamilton West in Princeton.
On Hamilton West’s first play from scrimmage, Princeton senior Moses Mahiri recorded a sack that led to an 8-yard loss. Two plays later, junior defensive back Isaac Webb intercepted a pass, giving Princeton possession of the football.
Unfortunately, the positive momentum didn’t last much longer for the Little Tigers. On their first offensive play, senior quarterback Vince Doran was injured and would not return. On the next play, freshman quarterback Jake Renda connected with Webb on a 22-yard pass play, but Webb left the game with an injury and would play just one more series during the remainder of the game.
With the injuries taking their toll, Princeton went on to suffer a 39-0 loss after such a promising start.
“We did have a great defensive stand,” said Princeton coach Charlie Gallagher, whose team returns to action on Saturday against Pemberton. “But football is more than just one defensive stand. We’re going to take a deep breath and get ready for our game next week. It’s an unforgiving game and that is what makes it a great game. We’ll be out here again next week and we need to be prepared and we will be. I am still very excited about this team. It’s a great bunch of guys, and the bottom line is, you can still only put 11 guys out there at a time. It’s our 11 against their 11 and we’re going to out our best 11 out there.”
Injuries played a huge roll in the opening loss for the Little Tigers, who played Hamilton West to a scoreless tie for most of the first quarter. But the Hornets got on the scoreboard with a safety late in the opening quarter for a 2-0 lead before scoring a touchdown on their next offensive play to make it 9-0. The score was 30-0 by halftime.
“We talked about adversity and persevering,” Gallagher said. “We’ll do what we have to do. These are resilient kids and they’ll find a way to get better. We’ll make sure of that. We have a great coaching staff and I am real happy about that.”
Renda was thrust into the quarterback role after the injury to Doran and performed well. The freshman completed 14 of 25 passes for 105 yards. Senior Will Smith and junior Stephen Hennessey each caught four passes, while sophomore Jay Jackson hauled in a pair of receptions.
“We like him a lot,” Gallagher said of Renda. “I know he will do a nice job for us. He’s a real hard worker in the weight room. He’s a very appreciative kid and I think he knows he has a great opportunity and he is going to take full advantage of it.”
Princeton will need to wait and see how the injuries affect the team in the long run. Regardless of who is on the field, Gallagher expects his team to continue to put forth a strong effort.
While Princeton opened its season last Saturday, Montgomery will open the season today at home against Ridge in a 7 p.m. start. The Hun School also begins its season this weekend when the Raiders will be the host to Royal Imperial Collegiate of Canada on Saturday at 1 p.m.

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