August 29, 2018

Relying on Core of Committed Veterans, PHS Football Aiming to Taste Victory

BIG JAY: Princeton High football player Jaylen Johnson takes a break in action last fall. Senior Johnson is going to be busy for PHS this year, playing running back and defensive line. The Little Tigers open their 2018 campaign when they host Hamilton on September 8. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

The goal for the Princeton High football team is simple as it heads into the 2018 season.

“We want to win some football games,” said PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher, whose squad went 0-10 last fall. “I am excited about our coaching staff because we have put in great work and we are coaching these kids up.”

Gallagher is looking to the squad’s older kids to set a positive tone.

“The future is bright and we have good seniors,” said Gallagher, whose team kicks off the campaign by hosting Hightstown on September 8.

“The juniors that we have are all players, they are all contributors. We are getting a lot out of them right now.”

Two of those juniors, Judd Petrone and Jay Jackson are vying for the quarterback position.

“Judd brings a lot of commitment to the program; he did a great job in the offseason,” said Gallagher.

“He has a great work ethic and the kids look up to him, no doubt about that. Jay is a three-sport athlete, doing football, basketball, and lacrosse. He is a good athlete, he has a real big arm. It will be interesting to see how it shakes out.”

PHS has some interesting options at running back in seniors Evan Angelucci, Doug Avis, and Jaylen Johnson.

“Evan has done a really nice job; Doug came out last year for the first time and he is really committed to the football program,” said Gallagher.

“He has worked hard. Jaylen is a nice-sized young man and did a nice job in our first scrimmage. He was pulling guys around. The bottom line is that it is going to take a couple of guys to tackle him or it is going to take one really good tackler.”

Seniors Stephen Hennessy and Tyler Komis have emerged as the team’s go-to receivers.

“We got two guys that are definitely going to contribute in the passing game,” said Gallagher. “We like Hennessy, and Tyler Komis had a great offseason.”

Gallagher likes his battletested group of offensive linemen. “We have three seniors sitting at the spot right now with Drew Staples, Connor Coffee, and Tommy Tenslinger,” said Gallagher.

“They all looked good in the scrimmage, which was real nice. Having those three guys is going to help out our line. We have got two or three kids in Fred Otte, Jose Espinosa, and Kevin Davila who are all players for us. They are going to contribute in some way; we are excited for those guys.”

On the defensive line, the trio of Johnson, Coffee, and Staples has the potential to do some exciting things.

“I think Jaylen, Connor, and Drew are going to be guys there that are really going to help us out there,” said Gallagher.

The PHS linebacking corps and secondary will also feature a veteran presence.

“We have Tenslinger there at linebacker with Evan Angelucci along with Evan’s little brother, Dylan, and Ryan Benattar,” said Gallagher.

“Petrone, Jackson, Avis, and Hennessy are at defensive back. All of those guys are two-platoon guys.”

As Gallagher looks ahead to the season, he believes the program’s blend of experience and promising sophomores can be a formula for success.

“We have a lot of two-or three-year starters and we are really relying on those kids,” said Gallagher.

“We are getting those kids in the right position; we are installing some new offensive and defensive stuff. At the same time, we are coaching up the young cats to help fill the void. We have a slew of sophomores who we would like to get some experience. They are on the verge. We hope they step up and became players for us. That is where we are at right now.”