When the Princeton High football team fell behind 19-0 last Friday evening at Willingboro, the Little Tigers could’ve folded.
PHS entered the night mired in a four-game losing streak that had seen it outscored 140-16.
Showing some pluck, though, the Little Tigers stiffened up defensively in the second quarter and then forced a turnover late in the half when Willingboro fumbled a punt.
PHS cashed in on the miscue as senior quarterback Zack DiGregorio hit Liam Helstrom on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it a 19-7 game at halftime.
Utilizing a little trickery, the Little Tigers started the second half with a perfectly executed onside kick to get possession. PHS converted that into a score as Javon Pannell ran five yards for a touchdown to narrow the gap to 19-13.
But that was as close as the Little Tigers would get as the Chimeras reeled off 19 unanswered points to post a 38-13 victory.
PHS head coach Joe Gargione saw improvement from his squad notwithstanding the final score.
“We were only six points back but they had so much speed compared to us,” said Gargione, whose team fell to 1-5 with the setback.
“We definitely showed more than the week before. We ended our streak of not scoring a touchdown. We had not scored a touchdown in three and a half games and we only had three points in a three-game homestand. It was definitely good to get some points.”
While Gargione knows his team can’t afford to dig a big hole like it did on Friday, he believes the pride his players displayed in fighting back could lead to success down the stretch.
“I told them at the end of the game that we can’t put ourselves in that kind of a hole,” said Gargione.
“I think the kids realize that even if you get down 19-0 to a good team, crazy things can happen. I said to them that I think we can get three more wins, 4-6 sounds a lot better than one and something.”
The Little Tigers are getting winning efforts from DiGregorio, Helstrom, and Pannell.
“Zack and Liam are two of our three captains,” said Gargione. “We are using Liam everywhere and Zack is dong a great job. Javon is a little guy but he keeps fighting. He hits the hole hard and has some great moves.”
Even though PHS faces a big challenge when it hosts Burlington this Saturday, Gargione thinks his club can make a move in the right direction.
“We are playing another tough team; it is our Senior Day and I want us to have a good showing,” said Gargione.
“I don’t want the seniors to leave with a bad taste in their mouths. We have so much to work on but scoring two touchdowns is a small improvement. I would like to see us score three or four next week and have the defense do better.”