Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 26
 
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
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LAST FLING: Quarterback Mike Olentine prepares to throw the ball last fall in his senior season with the Princeton High football team. Olentine, who is headed to Dartmouth College where he will be joining the men’s lacrosse team, is playing in his final football game this Thursday when he competes in the 14th annual Sunshine Classic all-star game at The College of New Jersey.

PHS QB Olentine Headed to Dartmouth Lax But Ready for Last Fling in Sunshine Classic

Bill Alden

Mike Olentine thought he played his last football game when Princeton High lost to Monroe last fall in the state playoffs.

The senior quarterback turned his thoughts to his main sport, lacrosse, and helping a veteran PHS squad to a big spring.

But while the high-scoring attackman and Dartmouth recruit was leading the Little Tigers lax squad to the state finals, he learned that he was going to get one last shot at football as he was named to play for the East squad in the 14th annual Sunshine Classic all-star game.

Olentine was pleasantly surprised when he got the news that he had been chosen for the Sunshine game which will take place this Thursday at the College of New Jersey.

“I am lacrosse first and football second,” said Olentine. “It was great to know that I can get an honor like this in football.”

Having focused on lacrosse since the winter, Olentine was a little out of step last week when he hit the gridiron to start preparation for the Sunshine game.

“I was a little rusty in the first practice but I am getting it back pretty quickly,” said the recently-graduated Olentine. “There are a lot of good players on the East team. I have some good receivers to throw to.”

Olentine is also relishing the chance to play with a group of PHS teammates on the East squad including Trevor Barsamian, Brian Vieten, Josh Gordon, Nick Miranda, Joe Kirkenir, and Skye Ettin.

“It is a chance to reflect on my football career,” said Olentine. “It is the last chance to get on the field with a core group of really good friends and teammates.”

That group of players showed potential from the day they walked in the door at PHS in the fall of 2006.

“We had a strong freshmen team,” said Olentine. “We had a good year and we knew we had a good group.”

Olentine had to wait his turn in getting the chance to lead that group. In his sophomore year, he broke his collarbone just as he was starting to see some snaps. As a junior, he was the backup in a rotation with Connor Ryan.

“That was a big learning experience; playing behind Connor Ryan made me a better player,” said Olentine in reflecting on his junior season.

“I tried to learn from his mistakes and emulate the things he did well. It was tough to come in the middle of the game; I had to figure out what the defense was doing.”

By the time his senior season rolled around, Olentine was ready to be in the middle of the action.

“I went into last summer with a good confidence level,” asserted Olentine. “I knew I was going to be the No. 1 quarterback so I got all the reps. We were expecting good things.”

A lot of good things happened last fall as the Little Tigers went 7-3, winning the CVC Valley Division and making their second appearance in the state playoffs in the last three seasons.

“We had a successful season; we had a lot of fun,” said Olentine, who ended up passing for 1,270 yards and seven touchdowns in 2009 as the Little Tigers went 7-3.

“We got off to a really hot start and then we lost that Steinert game in the middle. That was tough but we bounced back. Beating South at home on Senior Day was a great culmination. That really meant a lot.”

For Olentine, getting the chance to play quarterback one more time will benefit him as he gets ready for college lax.

“Being quarterback helps me with lacrosse,” added Olentine. “There is a lot of studying; you have to learn defenses. You have to keep your head up on the field. There is the physical side of the game, playing against big kids and taking big hits.”

It didn’t take long for Olentine to learn that Dartmouth would be a good fit for him.

“I visited early in junior year and I loved it as an academic school, not even thinking about lacrosse,” said Olentine, who also looked at Brown, Penn, and Yale.

“I love the school; I think I can get on the field next year. They have a new coach (Andrew Towers). I have talked to him; he is a driven guy who wants to make the team really good.”

Olentine, for his part, is driven to do his best for the team, no matter what role he ultimately assumes.

“I just want to help them any way I can,” said Olentine, who will be playing in a summer lax league to get ready for Dartmouth. “I am an attacker but I will play midfield or defensive shortstick if they need me to do that.”

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