Even though his Princeton High football team was mired in a slump, Joe Gargione brought high hopes into its game at Trenton Central last Saturday.
“I told the kids that this was a good opportunity to snap a 6-game losing streak and start a 3-game winning streak,” said PHS head coach Gargione.
Giving Gargione additional optimism was the fact that the Little Tigers had scored 18 unanswered points in the second half of their 35-18 loss a week earlier to Burlington Township.
But PHS got out of the gate slowly against the Tornadoes, falling behind 20-0 by halftime.
“We had pretty good practices last week but we started out slow,” lamented Gargione. “It wasn’t that we were sluggish, we just weren’t getting it done and they put up 20 points quickly.”
The Little Tigers valiantly tried to get it done after intermission. “We started the second half with a pooch kick and Javon [Pannell] pounced on it,” said Gargione. “That gave us momentum. We got down there and had two chances to score but we didn’t convert.”
The Little Tigers did convert later in the quarter as Zack DiGregorio hit Christian Giles on an 8-yard scoring pass. But that was the end of the scoring as Trenton won 20-7 and PHS dropped to 1-7.
“We scored in the second half and they didn’t,” said Gargione, noting that Giles’ TD was his first ever in varsity competition for the senior receiver.
“I told the kids afterward that there are four quarters in football; maybe you can’t win them all but we can’t dig that kind of hole, You can’t put yourself in that position and expect to win.”
With his team playing at winless Pemberton on November 3 in the regular season finale, Gargione hasn’t lost hope.
“We can have a two-game winning streak and match our win total from last year,” said Gargione.
“They may be 0-8 but then have some big kids, a running back who is pretty good and some good receivers. It is going to be tough; we have to get to the QB to stop their receivers.”