Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXII, No. 40
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
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SNAP JUDGMENT: Princeton High football senior center Joe Giacalone, right, snaps the ball to quarterback Connor Ryan in action earlier this season. Last Saturday, Giacalone and the PHS offensive line opened plenty of holes as the Little Tigers won 31-0 at WW/P-N. PHS piled up 306 yards rushing in moving to 2-1. PHS will look to keep on the winning track this Saturday when it hosts Trenton.

Giacalone Taking Center Stage in Trenches, Helping PHS Football Trample WW/P-N 31-0

Bill Alden

Joey Giacalone knows something about dealing with high expectations.

When he joined the Princeton High football program in 2005, he had some major footsteps to fill.

One of his older brothers, Vinny, was a star quarterback for PHS while a second brother, Frank, had emerged as a force on the line for the Little Tigers. Currently, Vinny is a senior tight end at Carnegie Mellon and Frank is a sophomore offensive tackle at Lehigh University.

The third Giacalone felt the pressure of the family legacy. “These coaches have coached both of my brothers,” said Giacalone.

“When I came in, I was expected to be just like them. It’s hard because maybe I am not as good as them. I am definitely working on it.”

Last Saturday, the senior center saw that work pay off, leading an offensive line that helped PHS trample WW/P-N for 306 yards rushing as the Little Tigers cruised to a 31-0 victory and improved to 2-1 on the season.

For the first 23 minutes of the contest, it didn’t appear that a rout was in the offing as both teams moved the ball but neither put any points in the board.

With 52 seconds remaining in the second quarter, PHS junior running back Josh Gordon ran through and past the WW/P-N defense for an electrifying 85-yard touchdown gallop that gave the Little Tigers a 7-0 lead at halftime.

Giacalone said Gordon’s heroics gave PHS a jolt as they headed into the locker room for half.

“We were really struggling to break plays; I talked to coach [Steve Everette] and we figured out the defense and where they are going,” recalled Giacalone.

“Everyone just did what they had to do. Coach got talking to us at half and told us what we had to do to put this game away. We knew that we had full control over this game. Everyone was pumped up; everyone was ready to go.”

The Little Tigers kept going in the second half, scoring 10 points in the third quarter and adding 14 in the final 12 minutes of the contest.

In the process, PHS broke the will of the WW/P-N defense. “Their defense was getting tired, “ said Giacalone.

“They stayed on the field; we had a couple of long drives where we subbed people out because we have confidence in a lot of guys. They were all yelling at each other; it wasn’t a good atmosphere for the defense.”

As a result, Giacalone had a good follow-up call to his brothers. “We call each other before every game,” said Giacalone, who went to Princeton Stadium on Saturday evening to watch his brother play in the Lehigh-Princeton game.

“We talk about what we need to do to win that game; our responsibilities and just how we are going to do it.”

PHS head coach Everette liked the way the Little Tigers took care of their responsibilities on the Gordon scoring play.

“It was a huge lift; it definitely took the wind out of their sails,” said Everette, who got 182 yards rushing on the day from Gordon with bruising junior Trevor Barsamian rumbling for 81 yards.

“They thought we were going to throw the ball. Josh saw a seam and he is a pretty talented kid. By no stretch of the imagination did we think we would get an 85-yard run right before the half. The thing that went unnoticed on the play is that DeQuan Holman had a great stalk block at about the 50-yard line that allowed Josh to make the last person miss. That’s just kids playing hard while there is still time on the clock.”

The scoring jaunt by Gordon resulted in PHS limiting its repertoire.

“Josh’s run at the end of the half let us know that we had certain plays in certain areas,” explained Everette.

“In the second half, we just concentrated on hitting that counter play in the same spot except that we changed the running back and we used Trevor. When you are tired and down a little bit, tackling 240 pounds is just no fun. Our kids get a huge lift out of creating seams for him so he can go out and punish people when he runs the ball.”

In Everette’s view, Giacalone and his mates on the line have been giving the Little Tigers a huge lift on a daily basis.

“They have been getting us through practice; they are the one pushing each other,” said Everette.

“They make us go; Joey makes all of our line calls and Tommy Hines is our spiritual guy. When we need a big play, he is usually around the ball. That’s what you hope your seniors do when they get the opportunity to play.”

The youngest Giacalone is making the most of his opportunity to add to his family’s legacy.

“The tradition that family has given to our program is indescribable,” maintained Everette.

“Vinny made it cool to be a football player at Princeton. Frankie took it to another level where he showed people that you can become a Division 1 athlete out of our program. They put a tradition inside our tradition and that’s something that we try to build on. Joey puts that pressure on himself because we don’t talk about his brothers.”

Everette is hoping that PHS can keep putting the pressure on its foes. “I think you are starting to see the team that I thought we could be,” said Everette, whose team hosts Trenton High this Saturday.

“We played tough defense. We have the ability to run the ball and the ability to throw the ball. We went out and played great special teams; people aren’t realizing how well we are playing special teams right now.”

Giacalone, for his part, has developed some high expectations for PHS. “We have a lot of people we are confident in,” said Giacalone.

“We just do what we have to do and make plays. We are definitely excited for this week of practice. We are facing Trenton next week and we lost to them last year. We have home field. We are going to have a good week of practice and beat them and go to the playoffs. I hope we get to the state championship.”

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