Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 27
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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SIDELINE ROUTE: Former Princeton High football star DeQuan Holman takes off down the sidelines for a 30-yard gain last Thursday in the Sunshine Classic all-star football game. Holman made five catches on the night for the West squad. Holman’s heroics, though, weren’t enough as the West fell in a 21-18 thriller to the East squad.

Former PHS Star Holman Fights Through Illness to Produce for West in Sunshine Classic Football

Bill Alden

DeQuan Holman was a bit under the weather as he hit the field last Thursday evening for the West squad in the 13th annual Sunshine Classic all-star football game.

“I am a little sick so I had to get myself into the game a little more,” said Holman, a former Princeton High star receiver who was suffering from flu-like symptoms.

The West team looked ill collectively in the early going as the powerful East team rolled to a 13-0 lead eight minutes into the contest at Lions Stadium on the campus of The College of New Jersey.

With the East boasting explosive running backs Kendrick Williams of Nottingham and Dave Twamley of WW/P-S together with strong-armed quarterback Connor Farrell of WWP/S, it looked like it could be a long night for the West.

“We were the underdogs,” said Holman, who was joined on the West squad by PHS teammates Ahmad Best, Brandon Merrill, and Tom Hines.

“No one thought we would be in the game at all with their offense and all the rushers they had.”

But that underdog mentality kept Holman and his teammates from giving in. “All the hype and everything willed us a little more,” said Holman.

Displaying that will, the West pulled to within 13-6 by halftime as Hillsborough QB Mike Daly hit Trenton High’s Korey Thompson with a 41-yard scoring strike with 2:19 left in the second quarter.

“That touchdown was big, it gave us a big boost of confidence,” said Holman. “If we didn’t do that, I don’t know how we would have come out in the second half.”

After being held without a catch in the first half, Holman came out strong after intermission.

“I had to work on little short routes and then try to open up big routes later,” said Holman, who ended up with five catches on the evening.

The 6’0, 185-pound Holman helped the West put together a scoring drive early in the third quarter as it pulled to 13-12.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Holman made a scintillating 30-yard catch down the sidelines to spark a 78-yard scoring march which saw the West take the lead 18-12 with 4:55 left in the game.

The East responded with a 54-yard drive that ended with a six-yard touchdown jaunt by Brian Alston of Robbinsville. The march was aided by a controversial fourth down catch by Twamley that appeared to be a trap. The East subsequently added a two-point conversion to make it 21-18.

Getting the ball with less than a minute left, the West chewed up some yardage but couldn’t get past midfield as it came up short in one last rally.

Holman was proud of the way the West kept fighting to the final gun. “The mood in the huddle was we could do this,” recalled Holman.

“We felt cheated by the bounce (on the Twamley play) but that is how it goes sometimes. We just tried to play through it. We didn’t come up with it but we played as hard as we could.”

As the West players team went though practice sessions in the week leading up to the game, Holman could sense something special developing.

“We jelled in the practices leading up to this,” said Holman. “We were the underdogs but we are all pretty good athletes. We all worked hard and the team camaraderie built through the practices.”

That camaraderie helped Holman fight through his illness and come up with a big game.

“Football is the ultimate team sport,” added Holman, a star guard for the PHS basketball team who may focus on that sport at the next level as he is considering playing hoops for Mercer County Community College or overseas.

“I didn’t have any catches in the first half and everybody talked to me and got me in the game. My coaches and teammates are always on my side; they helped pick me up.”

And the West was lucky to have Holman around to help pick up its offense.

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