Looking for Senior Standouts to Make Big Plays, PHS Football Fired Up to Kick Off 2021 Campaign
AIRING IT OUT: Princeton High quarterback Jaxon Petrone fires a pass in a game last season. Senior star Petrone is primed for a big final campaign, turning heads with his passing prowess in preseason practices. PHS, which went 1-5 last fall, kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
The seniors on the Princeton High football team are going to get plenty of chances to shine this fall.
“I have eight seniors and every single one of those seniors will be on the field, they are not taking any plays off,” said PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher, who guided his team to a 1-5 record last fall in a season shortened by COVID-19 concerns.
“We have seniors at all of the right positions and the right spots. If you can balance it out with a couple of good juniors and two or three sophomores in the mix, then guess what, you have got a chance.”
Senior quarterback Jaxon Petrone is primed to produce a big season for PHS.
“It starts with Jaxon, he looks phenomenal and is doing a really stellar job,” said Gallagher, whose team kicks off its 2021 season by playing at Overbrook High on September 4.
“He is football savvy, he wants to win, and he is a competitor. It is a quarterback-driven sport. If you have a good quarterback, that is a good starting point so you can build around him.”
The Tigers boast two very good pieces to catch passes from Petrone in Everaldo Servil and Jaiden Johnson.
“We have two senior wide receivers which I am very happy about, you couldn’t ask for better wide receivers,” said Gallagher of Servil and Johnson.
“We only had one scrimmage this year, but we threw four into the end zone from outside of 30 yards. We made some big plays.”
Gallagher is looking for some big plays at running back from senior Lahahmoo Pwee and sophomore Tyler Goldberg.
“We have a sophomore, Tyler, who is going to share the load with Pwee this year which we are really happy about,” said Gallagher.
“Tyler is a talented kid, he is totally committed. Pwee is a tough kid. I am a big fan of the run, so we need to have a good tailback. Between him and Tyler, we are going to be in good shape there.”
At tight end, sophomore Jake Angelucci has emerged as a good threat.
“Jake has been super committed, he won the job back in the spring when we did some 7-on-7 in a Hillsborough league,” said Gallagher.
“We had 12, 13 guys show up and Jake was there every week. He came in the summer all the time. He is 6’0, 185 pounds so he is a pretty big kid. We had only one JV game last year so you are throwing him into a varsity lineup which is a big spot. He has earned it, he is going to grow into it. He will take his lumps but he is going to be a good player for us. He is a total team kid.”
Along the offensive line — senior Giancarlo Momo, senior Benjamin Boyden-Bailey, senior Xin Chen, junior Isaiah Nazario, senior Jason Ling, and junior Jack Callahan — will look to dish out some lumps in the trenches.
“Benjamin was a guard last year, he will probably go over to tackle and be our right tackle,” said Gallagher.
“Momo is our left tackle, that is the premier spot, so we have seniors at the bookends at the tackles. We are going to have a rotation at guard with Chen, Nazario, and Ling. Nazario and our center, Callahan, played in our last game last year and those two kids really stepped up nicely. We thought they would play pretty big roles this year and it looks like they will. They have done a nice job and they are nice-sized kids. They are young guys so they will get a couple of years under their belt so we are excited for those guys.”
Some of those guys will also be seeing time on the defensive line.
“I think we might have Angelucci down there, and Callahan,” said Gallagher.
“We are going to have Chen down there. We have got two defensive ends in Momo and Boyden-Bailey. Momo has to be one of the best linemen in Mercer County.”
The linebacker corps will feature some of the squad’s younger players.
“Goldberg will play for us; Anthony Famiglietti is a sophomore who was a lacrosse player, he is a good player,” said Gallagher.
“Brooks Cahill-Sanidas, a sophomore, will be at linebacker. Risshabh Bhardwaj is a junior at linebacker for us. A newcomer, Jake Richter, is a big kid who is out there for us. He will probably be an outside linebacker and on the defensive line too. He is a hard worker. Faysal Alqassab is a junior and he will be at linebacker.”
Senior stars Servil and Johnson will be seeing double-duty as they will spearhead the PHS secondary.
“Servil is going to play there for us, he has stepped up,” said Gallagher.
“In our scrimmage, he made a huge hit at the goal line. He put a pop on a kid and the ball went flying and we recovered the fumble. I think that built up his confidence. Jaiden Johnson is another guy back there. Ryan Friedman is a junior and he is going to be a good player for us. He and Jason Ling are going to be two guys that will help us there.”
The Tigers will need to step up to earn a victory in their opener against Overbrook.
“I am really focused on our first game, I would like to get the momentum going,” said Gallagher.
“The schedule is very challenging, we are playing Group 1 schools to start off with. They have the same number of kids that we have; it is a fair fight but they have a number of good players. Overbrook has a good feeder program. I feel like just getting into the win column early on will be huge.”
Going forward, PHS will need positive momentum as they face a number of challenging foes.
“We play another small school next week, Haddon Heights, (on September 11) they were 7-1 last year and the only team they lost to was the South Jersey champion,” said Gallagher.
“We play Audubon (October 2), they were also 7-1. Cinnaminson (October 23) was in the playoffs two years ago. Those three teams are Group 2. We play some Group 3 schools like Bishop Eustace (September 24) and Robbinsville (October 9).”
The squad’s success in those matchups will depend on the senior group coming up big.
“These seniors really need to step up; we need them to be able to make plays,” said Gallagher.
“I am going to do everything I can to give them the opportunity to make big plays. I am not a huge fan of the vertical passing game when it comes to high school. It can be a lot of incomplete passes but we have guys who can catch the ball and we got a QB who can throw it. I am excited, we are definitely going to stretch the field.”