PHS Football’s Angelucci Overcomes Leg Injury, Persistence Rewarded by Making Sunshine Game
GETTING A LEG UP: Evan Angelucci eludes a tackler during his career for the Princeton High football team. Recovering from a broken leg in the spring of his sophomore year that could have kept him from ever playing sports again, Angelucci emerged as a star running back/linebacker for the Tigers. He has been selected to play for the West squad in the 22nd Sunshine Football Classic, which is taking place on July 2 at Notre Dame High. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
It looked like Evan Angelucci’s athletic career may have ended in March of 2017 when he suffered a gruesome leg injury playing for the Princeton High boys’ lacrosse team.
“I broke my leg as a sophomore in lacrosse season and was told I was never going to play sports again,” recalled Angelucci.
“I displaced my whole right leg; it was just hanging there. I broke my tibia and fibula.”
Undaunted, Angelucci underwent an arduous rehabilitation process to get back on the football field for his junior season.
“I had to start very slow, I couldn’t walk for a very long time,” recalled Angelucci.
“Originally the cast was supposed to go up to my hip…It was broken just low enough where it could go to my knee. I just needed two pins that would stay for three months. It started with massage therapy, just getting it loose again and then it was stretching it and then I got into walking and doing exercises. I was jogging by July, I would say.”
By August, Angelucci was back on the football field. “I was cleared for the first scrimmage barely by like a day; I had the appointments all scheduled,” said Angelucci.
“I was very determined to play. I did not want to miss the season, I knew my team needed me and I could not afford to be out.”
That determination was evident as Angelucci played through in his junior season.
“I had to wear a very big brace on it, I had tendonitis throughout my leg the whole year,” said Angelucci, who played running back and outside linebacker.
“I couldn’t use that as an excuse, I had to play both ways every game. I was very happy that I was able to just play in the first place and then make it through the season.”
This past fall, Angelucci was happy to play both ways and help PHS get into the win column as it snapped 21-game losing streak.
Angelucci’s persistence has been rewarded as he has been selected to play for the West squad in the 22nd annual Sunshine Football Classic, which is taking place on July 2 at Notre Dame High.
Coming into their senior season, Angelucci and his classmates believed that their chemistry could result in some victories.
“We had a big senior class this year and we have always been a tight knit group,” said Angelucci.
“We knew we had to take advantage of that to get a couple of wins this year especially for Homecoming.”
The team’s first win came in later September when PHS rallied to edge Cherry Hill East 21-14.
“It was great to see the energy that came with the win,” said Angelucci.
“Everybody knew it was possible but a lot of people didn’t think it was happening. The other team thought they were going to get their first win and we pulled it out.”
In mid-October, PHS came though with a second win, defeated West Windsor-Plainsboro 22-19 on Homecoming under the lights.
“It was great to be able to have the energy that close together,” said Angelucci. “It was a very positive time.”
Looking at his performance this past fall, Angelucci sees plenty of positives.
“I had a pretty good year, especially in the defensive side of the ball,” said Angelucci. “I focused in on outside linebacker and defensive end; I had a great year in my tackles. I had a good time on offense, getting carries. I liked receiving the ball.”
Learning that he had been selected to play in the Sunshine game was a great moment for Angelucci.
“I was just very grateful; when I was told as a sophomore I wasn’t going to be able to play it took a toll for sure,” said Angelucci.
“I stuck it to it over the summer and I was able to play. I know that there are a lot of people out there who wish they could still be playing. I just want to take full advantage of that.”
Angelucci will be looking to soak up as much he can from his final football experience.
“It is a great opportunity to learn from the people that will be there,” said Angelucci, who is headed to the University of South Carolina and won’t be playing football there.
“There are going to be amazing players among my peers that are going on to do great things and coaches there that are especially great coaches. I saw the game last year, I had a teammate there, Marqui McBride. It was awesome to see him there and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”
Playing one more time with three PHS teammates, Connor Coffee, Steve Hennessy, and Jaylen Johnson, who are also on the West squad, will be an awesome experience for Angelucci.
“I could not have dreamed of something like this,” said Angelucci. “We will all work very hard in practices and then go out to win the game hopefully, all the while doing something we all love.”