September 29, 2021

Fueled by Sharp Passing, Scrappy Defensive Effort, PHS Football Edges Bishop Eustace for First Victory

ON TARGET: Princeton High quarterback Jaxon Petrone fires a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Friday, senior Petrone connected on 12-of-19 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown as PHS defeated Bishop Eustace 15-12. The Tigers, now 1-3, play at Audubon High (3-1) on October 2. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Even though his Princeton High football team lost 27-21 to Cherry Hill East on September 18 to fall to 0-3, Charlie Gallagher saw progress.

“We played much better I was very happy with what the guys did in the Cherry Hill game,” said PHS head coach Gallagher, whose senior quarterback Jaxon Petrone passed for 223 yards and two touchdowns in the defeat.

“Jaxon and the wide receivers are getting better. We are doing different schemes and getting everybody to mesh, including the coaches, so we are all on the same page.”

Things got even better last Friday night as PHS traveled south to Bishop Eustace and came away with a 15-12 win.

The Tigers jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the second quarter as Everaldo Servil scored on a TD pass from Petrone and Tyler Goldberg added a second touchdown on a three-yard run. Bishop Eustace responded with a late score in the second quarter. The Crusaders added another TD in the fourth quarter but the PHS was able to run out the clock to earn the win.

Gallagher tipped his hat to his defense which held the fort in the second half.

“They did a really nice job, they were on the field the whole entire third quarter,” said Gallagher, whose team snapped a seven-game losing streak with its last win coming when it edged Bishop Eustace 18-17 in overtime last October.

“I think we had three plays offensively in the third quarter. They were on the field for about 10 and a half minutes. It was bend but don’t break, they didn’t give up a lot of big plays. They made Bishop Eustace work for every yard, which was awesome. We didn’t give up huge rushing yards, we didn’t give them huge passing yards. We got a turnover in the second half, it was real nice to swing the momentum back to us.”

The PHS front seven boasted several individual standouts.

“We got a kid, Jake Richter, doing a great job at defensive end, Zach Okoye also really stepped up,” said Gallagher.

“We have some young linebackers and they played great ball. Ryan Friedman is a junior and is doing well. Juda Marks is a freshman getting a lot of playing time at outside linebacker. Anthony Famiglietti has found a home at middle linebacker and he is only a sophomore. They are playing hard and they are learning the position. They are getting better every week which is great. It bodes well for the future.”

The Tiger offense sealed the deal with a marathon possession. “What was super impressive was that we got the ball with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter and we controlled the clock for the rest of game,” said Gallagher.

“We didn’t give it back, we were able to mix it up. There was a pass to Everaldo that got us going. We just ate up the clock.”

Petrone piled up some impressive stats in the win, connecting on 12-of-19 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown and a team-high 53 yards rushing. Servil made five catches for 52 yards and a touchdown with Jaiden Johnson getting five receptions for 86 yards.

“Our offense has been clicking, we have really got to focus on high percentage passing,” said Gallagher.

“I think Jaxon is under 50 percent right now passing. This week he was over 60 percent. A goal of ours each week is to be throwing the ball for better than 60 percent. Jaxon, Jaiden, and Everaldo are keys to our success. We have to be able to get the ball in their hands, both had five catches apiece. Both running backs got a catch this week for some nice gains. We need to get the ball to more guys.”

The guys enjoyed the long ride home from Bishop Eustace. “There were some sing-alongs,” said Gallagher. “If they had a dance floor on the bus, they would have done a break dance. It was good ride home. It was fun.”

The Tigers will look to have more fun when they play at Audubon High (3-1) on October 2.

“We have to have a really great film session on Monday and have a really great week of practice,” said Gallagher.

“We are going to focus on the passing game, there is no doubt about that. We have to have a great intermediate passing game. We have big-time players that can make big plays.”