September 6, 2017

Series of Injuries Leads to Painful Opener As PHS Football Falls 39-0 to Hamilton

RELIEF PITCHER: Princeton High quarterback Jake Renda passes the ball last Saturday as PHS opened its season by hosting Hamilton. Freshman Renda came off the bench after senior quarter Vince Doran was injured in the first quarter and played well, completing 11-of-24 passes for 133 yards in a losing cause as the Little Tigers fell 39-0 to the Hornets. PHS plays at Pemberton (1-0) on September 9. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Hosting Hamilton past Saturday in its season opener, the Princeton High football team came out roaring.

After kicking off to the Hornets, the PHS defense gave its guests a rude welcome, sacking the Hamilton quarterback on first down and then picking up a turnover two plays later when Isaac Webb leaped up for an interception.

But things started to go downhill for the Little Tigers as PHS senior quarterback Vince Doran went down in a heap on first down and was sidelined for the rest of the afternoon with an apparent collarbone injury. Webb, for his part, made a superb catch on third down and came up limping with an ankle injury, ending the afternoon on crutches after hobbling through a few series.

Those setbacks set the tone as an undermanned PHS battled valiantly but couldn’t slow the Hornets in suffering a 39-0 loss.  The injuries to Doran and Webb were just the beginning of the day’s casualties as Jack Stables left with a knee injury, Tyler Komis was knocked out of the contest after making a catch, and Judd Petrone went down on a pass play, leaving the field in an ambulance.

A subdued PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher acknowledged that the team’s fast start was just a footnote on a tough day for the program.

“We had a great defensive stand but as you know, football is more than just one defensive stand,” said Gallagher softly. “We are going to take a deep breath. As I told them afterward, this is an unforgiving game.”

Coming on in relief for Doran, freshman quarterback Jake Renda showed that he had some game, completing 11-of-24 passes for 133 yards.

“We like him a lot, I know he is going to do a nice job for us,” said Gallagher of Renda.

“He works hard in the weight room, he does a great job for us. He is a very appreciative kid. He knows he has a great opportunity and he is going to take full advantage of it.”

While the Little Tigers face a hard road ahead due to the injury woes, Gallagher believes in the character of his players and coaches.

“We talked about adversity and persevering; that is what we have to do,” said Gallagher, whose team plays at Pemberton (1-0) on September 9.

“These are resilient kids, they will find a way to get better. We will make sure of that. We have got a great coaching staff and I am really happy about that. We will be out here next week and we will get them prepared.”

Displaying his resilience, Gallagher is confident that the Little Tigers can be competitive going forward.

“I am still very excited about this team, it is a great bunch of guys,” said Gallagher.

“So it is our 11 against their 11. That is what we are going to do, we are going to put our best 11 out there.”