October 13, 2021

Petrone Gives His All on Both Sides of the Ball As PHS Football Loses 30-7 to Robbinsville

THE JAX SHOW: Princeton High football senior star Jaxon Petrone gets ready to throw a pass in a game earlier this season. Last Saturday against visiting Robbinsville, quarterback/safety Petrone had a busy day passing for 172 yards and making several crunching tackles in the secondary. Petrone’s efforts weren’t enough as PHS fell 30-7 to the Ravens. The Tigers, now 1-5, host Camden Catholic (4-2) on October 15 under the lights for Homecoming. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Jaxon Petrone is ready to do whatever he can to help the Princeton High football team.

After PHS hosted Robbinsville last Saturday, Petrone kept contributing, picking up pylons in the end zone to clean up the field.

Earlier in the day, senior quarterback/safety Petrone was busy on the field, hitting on 15-of 25 passes for 172 yards and making several crunching tackles in the secondary.

Petrone’s efforts, though, weren’t enough as the Tigers fell 30-7 to Robbinsville and dropped to 1-5.

In the early stages, PHS hung tough against the Ravens, battling back from a 10-0 deficit, going on a 7-play, 65-yard scoring march late in the second quarter. A 42-yard pass from Petrone to Jaiden Johnson got the Tigers to the Robbinsville six-yard line and then two plays later Jason Ling scored on a 3-yard TD run as PHS narrowed the gap to 10-7 at intermission.

“The pass to Jaiden was great,” said Petrone. “We had a lot of momentum going in at halftime.”

The Tigers couldn’t keep the momentum going in the second half as the Ravens felled off 20 unanswered points.

“We just came out a little flat in the second half,” said Petrone.

“Our offense wasn’t there today. On defense, we were hitting guys hard.”

Petrone’s connection with Johnson was there all day for the Tigers as the senior receiver made 11 catches for 132 yards

“I love it,” said Petrone, noting that the team’s other star senior receiver, Everaldo Servil, got sidelined by injury in the first half Saturday.

“When I drop back, I am looking for Jaiden every single time, I know he is going to be open.”

The PHS passing game has been opening up in recent weeks with Petrone having thrown for 779 yards in the last four games as he has gone over the 1,000-yard mark for the season and Johnson averaging 100 yards receiving a game and 15 yards a catch.

“Coach [Charlie] Gallagher switched up the offense a little bit, throwing it a little more than running,” said Petrone.

“He is putting a lot of trust in me to throw the ball to the receivers in the flats and long. I throw it over the cornerback’s head once in a while and get it going.”

While Petrone started the season playing just quarterback, he eventually volunteered to help out at defensive back.

“That was week two or three, I started playing
full-time,” said Petrone.

“I always want to play. I just do the best I can, I don’t think about it too much.”

PHS head coach Gallagher appreciates Petrone’s efforts on both sides of the ball.

“He is just an all-around great athlete and he is a good football player,” said Gallagher.

“When he is on the field good things can happen, whether it be offensively or defensively. It is let’s make sure he is on the field. He has a great nose for the ball.”

PHS made good things happen on the scoring march in the second quarter.

“It was good, we moved the ball nicely,” said Gallagher.

“I don’t know how many plays it was, it was like seven, eight plays. We pride ourselves on getting 10-play drives. We want 10-play drives and we want to capitalize on those drives.”

In the second half, the Tigers moved the ball but foaled to put together any long drives.

“I don’t think we had a lot of 10-play drives in the second half,” said Gallagher.

“We will work on that in practice this week. We have got to come up with something that is going to get us in the end zone.”

Gallagher believes the team’s passing attack has the weapons to get in the end zone.

“Jaiden always plays nicely, just like Jaxon; if he is doing well, Jaxon is doing well,” said Gallagher.

“We were missing Everaldo in the second half so Jaiden’s workload gets picked up a little. Risshabh Bhardwaj stepped in nicely and caught a couple of passes. We had a new kid, Quinn Ramsay, who did a nice job, he caught two passes. We are trying to spread the ball around. We don’t want to totally focus on Jaiden or Everaldo but when those two guys are out there, there are a lot of good threats out there that can do damage to the other team and work into our favor.”

While things didn’t go in the favor of PHS last Saturday, Gallagher is confident his team can bounce back from the loss.

“I told the guys it is about refocusing ourselves,” said Gallagher.

“It is about playing good football and not worrying about who we are playing next week or two weeks from now. We just need to be playing good, sound football.”

With the Tigers hosting a 4-2 Camden Catholic squad on October 15 under the lights for Homecoming, they will need to play good football to be competitive.

“We have a great opponent coming in this week for Homecoming and we are excited for it,” said Gallagher.

“This week is really important. We have to get those guys up to task. We have got to coach them up the best we can and be ready for our Homecoming. We want to impress.”

Petrone, for his part, believes PHS will be up to the task.

“We have a huge game next week with Homecoming, we want to show out to play,” said Petrone.

“There are going to be a lot of people here next Friday night so it is show up to play and work hard all week in practice. We are a good football team and we are getting better. There are just a couple more games left in my senior year so I am playing my fullest.”