November 22, 2017

In a Finale That Mirrored Rough Campaign, PHS Football Defeated by North Plainfield

MO ON THE GO: Princeton High football player Moses Mahiri fights for yardage in a game this fall. Senior running back/linebacker Mahiri set a positive tone along with his classmates as PHS went 0-10 this fall. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

After losing all nine of its regular season games, the Princeton High football team was primed to end the fall with a victory as it played at North Plainfield in an NJSIAA regional crossover game.

But in a microcosm of the 2017 campaign, PHS lost starting quarterback Ryan Benattar to injury early in the November 9 contest as it dug a big hole on the way to a 54-0 loss.

“It didn’t work out in our favor but we still had a good week of practice; they were excited to play,” said Gallagher, who previously lost senior quarterback Vince Doran to a season-ending injury on the first offensive series of the season opener. “The kids played hard but the other team had some athletes that got the best of us.”

In assessing the 0-10 season overall, Gallagher acknowledged that it proved to be an uphill battle.

“We were a little overmatched in some spots and we got down early in a lot of games, which is not where you want to be,” said Gallagher. “I think the players persevered throughout the season and they played hard until the very end.”

Gallagher credited his core of seniors with showing a ton of perseverance.

“We relied heavily on six senior guys and they all did a great job for us,” said Gallagher, whose senior players included Moses Mahiri, Adam Musa, Finn Kaiser, Takahi Carter, Marqui McBride, and Will Smith. “They played both ways for the most part; they gave everything they had.”

While the graduation of the Class of 2018 will leave a void, a number of younger guys should be ready to step into those shoes.

“We have some juniors, whom I am excited for,” said Gallagher, noting that junior performers Evan Angelucci, Connor Coffee, Joe Feldman, Stephen Hennessy, Jaylen Johnson, Tyler Komis, Juan Shambi, Drew Staples, Tommy Tenzlinger, Isaac Webb, and Ryan Benattar all saw significant action this fall.

“We have about 15 of those guys and just about all of those guys played somewhere in the mix. It is the idea of them getting quality reps at their position. I hope it will pay important dividends next year.”

In Gallagher’s view, the returning players learned some important lessons this fall.

“It is this idea of preparation and what it takes to put in the work prior to the game,” said Gallagher.

“The game is just a time to show off what you have done all week. The game should be easy; you should work hard in practice. We did a lot of that this year.”

The Little Tigers appear determined to put in the work over the offseason to get back on the winning track.

“The kids are always excited; they will get back in the weight room this week,” said Gallagher.

“They don’t mess around, you love the commitment these guys have. Some of the other guys will be doing some wrestling and playing some basketball and we will support them.”