Even though the Princeton High football team went through a rough 0-10 season last fall, Charlie Gallagher doesn’t want his players to totally erase 2013 from their memories.
“Last season was a big learning year and I hope it left a bad taste in their mouths,” said PHS second-year head coach Gallagher, whose squad was outscored by a 401-100 margin last fall.
“We have a good core of guys coming back, there is a sense of urgency. The schedule is different and they see opportunities for wins.”
Junior quarterback Dave Beamer’s passing skills give the Little Tigers an opportunity to score in a hurry.
“We are excited to have Dave back at quarterback,” said Gallagher, whose team opens its 2014 campaign by hosting Hamilton on September 13.
“He has a big arm, a live arm. He has a lot of velocity and a tight spiral. We will be looking for a lot of down the field plays from him.”
PHS boasts two playmakers at running back in junior tailback Rory Helstrom and senior fullback Colin Buckley.
“Rory is definitely going to be a go-to guy, he will get the bulk of the carries,” said Gallagher.
“He wants the ball in his hands. We have a solid fullback in Colin Buckley. He is 6’1, 200-pounds, and is not your typical guy at fullback, he hits hard. We are going to run some power formations and he is good at that kick out block. We will get him to run the ball. He has got some speed for a big guy.”
The Little Tigers have a jack-of-all trades in the backfield with senior Sam Smallzman, a starting linebacker and quarterback last year before getting sidelined by injury.
“Sam Smallzman is coming back, he doesn’t want to just be a defensive player,” said Gallagher.
“He is going to fill just about every offensive role, tight end, fullback, halfback, and he is our back-up QB. He can go anywhere we need him; he just wants to play some football.”
The group of junior Matt Ochoa, senior Ben Danis, senior Jack Cook, senior Joe Hawes, and senior Brian Tien gives PHS versatility at receiver.
“Matt Ochoa is back,” said Gallagher. “Ben Danis has come back. He was a starter as sophomore, had an ACL and took last year off. He will be a starter. Jack Cook is a senior but it his first year out. He is a big guy, 6’3, 185. Joe Hawes was backup soccer goalie and a good lacrosse player. The guys got him to come out; he’s a real nice player. Brian Tien is at tight end. He’s a strong guy, about 6’1, 185 pounds, and has done a lot of work in the weight room.”
Gallagher is relying on his battle-tested offensive line to give him some good work.
“Just about everybody is back,” said Gallagher. “We have Noah Ziegler at left tackle and Omar Moustafa at left guard. The right guard is up in the air. Brian Lemus-Camey is coming off an ACL. Joe Cunsolo has been playing there and is doing a good job. We have Tommy Moore at right tackle. He started last year at RG and then moved to tackle when Lemus-Camey got hurt. We have two or three guys at center. Matt Toplin is on the shelf and should be getting cleared soon. Ethan Guerra is a sophomore but is a real strong kid. Joe Cunsolo is also in the mix.”
Many of those linemen will be doing double duty as they will form the foundation of the front six in the PHS defense.
“We are playing a 4-2-5,” said Gallagher. “On the line will be Buckley, Moustafa, Ziegler, Tommy Moore, Guerra, Toplin, and Cunsolo. At linebacker, we have Tien, Smallzman, and Anthony Trainor.”
The backs and receivers will comprise most of the secondary. “At safety, we will have Rory and Danis,” added Gallagher. “Tad Moore is also helping us at safety. The corners are Ochoa, Cook, and Mike Chonka. At free safety, we have Joe Hawes.
While Gallagher knows it will be tough for the Little Tigers to break into the win column, he believes his players will compete to the final whistle.
“When you are coming off a 0-10 season, nothing comes easy,” said Gallagher, noting that PHS will be hosting Ewing under the lights on the evening of September 19 for homecoming.
“We just want to be competitive in the fourth quarter. The kids see the opportunities for wins but they know they have to work hard, there will be a lot of tight games. I am excited for the season.”