Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
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GAMEBREAKER: Princeton High senior star Josh Gordon breaks into the open in action earlier this season. Last Saturday, Gordon rushed for 147 yards and the winning touchdown and made a game-saving interception in the waning moments as PHS rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat Trenton High 17-14. The victory improved the Little Tigers to 4-0 on the season.

Showing Character in Overcoming 14-0 Deficit, PHS Football Edges Trenton to Stay Undefeated

Bill Alden

It was only the fourth game of the season but the Princeton High football team reached a critical crossroads by halftime of its clash last Saturday at Trenton High.

The undefeated Little Tigers found themselves trailing winless Trenton 14-0 at intermission, getting outplayed on both sides of the ball.

In addressing his players at the break, PHS head coach Steve Everette got to the heart of the matter.

“The Trenton kids made plays and we didn’t,” said Everette. “It was real simple at halftime, I said to them who are you going to be — the team that everyone thinks is overrated or the team you want to be.”

PHS took the latter route, reeling off 17 unanswered points in the second half to pull out a 17-14 win and improve to 4-0.

The rally started with a big special teams play as Josh McNulty blocked a Trenton punt in the end zone for a safety to get PHS on the scoreboard.

“Every week it seems like one kid is stepping up and making a special teams play,” said Everette, reflecting on McNulty’s moment of brilliance.

Ignited by the safety, the Little Tiger offense came alive. Shaking off three earlier interceptions, senior quarterback Michael Olentine hit Eric Shorter for a 32-yard gain to put PHS deep in Trenton territory. On the next play, Olentine found classmate Doug Bryant in the end zone for a 22-yard scoring strike as PHS cut the Trenton lead to 14-9.

“Mike wasn’t himself to start the game; his arm was bothering him,” said Everette of Olentine who ended the afternoon hitting 7-of-16 passes for 93 yards. “He got himself together in the second half.”

The fourth quarter turned out to be the Josh Gordon show as the senior star made big plays on both sides of the ball. The 5’8, 185-pound speedster dashed for a 52-yard touchdown run to put the Little Tigers ahead 17-14. Then in the waning moments of regulation, Gordon made an interception in the end zone to snuff out Trenton’s final threat.

“Josh got angry and said ‘give me the ball’ and we just gave him the ball,” said Everette of Gordon who rushed for a total of 147 yards in the victory.

“The offensive line did a great job and he made some kids miss in the open field. On defense, he was in the right place at the right time.”

Everette liked the way his defense played collectively as it tightened up down the stretch.

“The defense is putting things together,” said Everette. “We have to stop letting the other teams score first but we are able to make adjustments and start playing well. We are like an older boxer who needs to be hit a few times before he gets warmed up.”

PHS needed that fight as Trenton nearly knocked it out. “Carl Jordan is coaching those kids up,” said Everette, referring to his Trenton counterpart.

“They didn’t stop going after us. It was a great atmosphere; their band never stopped playing and their dancers kept going the whole game. Carl is rallying the program and the school.”

Everette liked the way his veteran squad kept going as it overcame the Trenton challenge.

“I definitely think that having experienced kids helps us,” asserted Everette, whose team plays at Steinert (1-2) on October 10.

“Our kids responded, the coaches are making adjustments and the kids are executing. Everybody is doing what they need to do. We have shown that two touchdowns is not too much to come back from but we need to play all four quarters.”

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