Vol. LXI, No. 43
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
(Photo by Bill Allen/NJ SportAction)
MIRANDA RULES: Princeton High senior star John Miranda races up the field in recent action. Mirandas steady play at safety and wide receiver has helped PHS get off to a 5-2 start. Last Saturday, Miranda had an interception and two catches for 32 yards to help PHS rout WW/P-N 27-6 in its annual Homecoming contest.
Standing at 510 and weighing 160 pounds soaking wet, John Miranda doesnt look like he would be one of the iron men for the Princeton High football team.
But the senior safety and wide receiver has emerged as an indispensable two-way performer for the Little Tigers.
On defense, Miranda has a nose for the ball and calls the signals for the secondary.
As a receiver, Miranda adds diversity to PHSs power-running attack, having come up with several key catches to keep opponents off balance.
For good measure, Miranda has taken on punt-returning duties, helping the Little Tigers get better field position with his combination of sure hands and fearlessness.
Last Saturday, Miranda put in his customary full days work as helped PHS whip WW/P-N 27-6 as the Little Tigers improved to 5-2 and closed in on their first state playoff berth since 1992.
The lanky Miranda made a key interception in the second quarter and came up with two receptions for 32 yards. He also handled his punt returning duties flawlessly to help PHS win the field position battle.
Reflecting on his role, Miranda asserted that he doesnt want a break from the action. I dont want to sit out because I feel that if something bad happens, maybe I could have prevented it, said Miranda. I just try to do as much as I can.
Miranda used his savvy to help the PHS defense tighten up things after WW/P-N built an early 6-0 lead.
We really studied a lot of film, said Miranda. We knew that if everyone did things right we would be able to win. On the first drive, we had a mix-up with the coaches and the coverage. We fixed that and that solved the problem.
Mirandas interception was a product of that solution. That was how we adjusted, explained Miranda. I was in the place the hole in the coverage and I was able to pick it off.
In making its playoff push, PHS has seen many players pick up their games. A lot of guys have stepped up, said Miranda. We didnt expect some of the players to be at the level that they are playing at. Its really helped us to be able to rely on them.
It has been a big help for the Little Tigers to have players like Miranda together with other stars like Doug Borchert, Joe Cifelli, Tom Hines, and Matt Young seeing action on both sides of the ball.
We have key guys that go both ways, said Miranda. What happens is that theyll get breaks when they can. We dont have a big team so we need them out there.
PHS head coach Steve Everette likes having Miranda out there for his squad. John is glue, thats what he is, said Everette. He is too small, too slow, all of the things that are not supposed to make a good football player. He is a great character guy. He coaches up our cornerbacks and first-year guys in the middle of plays. He is just an absolutely fabulous kid.
Miranda is just one of many PHS players who are willing to do whatever it takes to hold PHS together. The kids are ready to sacrifice for the good of the whole, asserted Everette, whose team hosts powerful WW/P-S (6-1) on October 27.
You can put all the Xs and Os up on the board that you want. When the kids are willing to sacrifice for each other, good things are going to happen.
Everette was confident that good things were going to happen last Saturday even though his team fell behind 6-0 after WW/P-N churned out a 49-yard scoring march in its first possession.
Our kids are character-based; they want to do well, said Everette, who got touchdown runs of 81 yards and seven yards from senior star Borchert as PHS rallied to build a 14-6 halftime lead.
They are behind six points, we are OK, they just go out and fight. There was a long time left in the game and the kids are patient and confident. They just go out and do what they know they can do.
Everettes kids produced a total team effort as they took a big step forward in their quest for a playoff berth. The Little Tigers could clinch a berth with a win over WW/P-S and would still be in the hunt under the power point system even with a loss.
We have been attempting to get ourselves ready for a state playoff run, said Everette, who got 179 yards rushing from Borchert and 92 yards from powerful sophomore Trevor Barsamian.
We know that every aspect of our game had to be top notch. Our kids are just working so hard; Im ridiculously proud of them. The work started last December.
Miranda, for his part, believes that offseason work helped the team develop a chemistry that is paying dividends this fall.
We had a lot of offensive line, defensive line, and linebackers that returned, said Miranda.
We also had a lot of guys who didnt have a lot of experience so what happened was in the offseason, everyone lifted a lot at 6 a.m. in the mornings. Going through hard times together, really helped bond us. We are coming together this year.
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