October 20, 2021

PHS Football Loses 38-10 to Camden Catholic, But Johnson Puts on a Show for Homecoming Crowd

J-TRAIN: Princeton High football player Jaiden Johnson races upfield in a game earlier this fall. Last Friday night, senior star Johnson made three catches for 48 yards and kicked a 46-yard field goal in a losing cause as PHS fell 38-10 to Camden Catholic. The Tigers, now 1-6, host Cinnaminson (1-6) on October 23. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

It was Friday night lights time for the Princeton High football team as it hosted Camden Catholic for Homecoming.

An overflow, raucous crowd had packed the stands around the PHS turf field by the 7 p.m. kickoff last Friday on an unseasonably warm October evening with fans spilling into the hill overlooking the end zone.

As Tiger senior receiver/cornerback Jaiden Johnson took the field, he was pumped to give the fans something to cheer about.

“The atmosphere was amazing, I am glad to see everybody here,” said Johnson.

“Last year we didn’t have it because of COVID. I just love it; the support from the school.”

After Camden Catholic jumped out to an 8-0 lead, Johnson got the throng on hand buzzing, making a 40-yard reception down the sideline on a bomb from Jaxon Petrone and later kicking a 46-yard field goal as the Tigers cut the deficit to 8-3.

“We have been working on it every single day in practice,” said Johnson, recalling his spectacular catch.

“We have been getting better and it transitioned into the game. We want to keep doing that as much as possible.”

Johnson and fellow senior star receiver Everaldo Servil have developed a good connection this fall with senior quarterback Petrone.

“On the offseason, me, Everaldo [Servil] and him have just been working together,” said Johnson, who came into Friday averaging 15 yards per catch.

“The chemistry has shown. I am just glad to be out here and be with the guys.”

In booting the field goal, Johnson displayed skills developed from his time with the PHS soccer program.

“I did play soccer so I have a background and I just focused,” said Johnson, who switched to football last fall.

“We work on it during practice and it happened in the game. I am just happy that it went through the uprights.”

While PHS kept working hard after that scoring march, it couldn’t hold off the powerful Irish who pulled away to a 38-10 win.

“We knew they were a good team but we were not intimidated,” said Johnson. “It was come out here and be the underdogs.”

The Tigers showed they weren’t intimidated, producing a 75-yard fourth quarter drive that culminated with a 15-yard TD run by senior fullback Jason Ling.

“It was nice, I am glad,” said Johnson. “It was nice to see Jason score, he has been working hard.”

Johnson has been working hard all fall, starting at receiver and cornerback and handling all of the kicking and punting duties.

“I just play as much as I possibly can, I am a team player if coach wants me in, I will go in, whatever it is,” said Johnson.

“I know what to expect this year. I worked with my dad, we have been grinding to this day. If I have the opportunity at the next level, I would definitely play.”

PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher was glad to see program get the opportunity to resume its annual Homecoming night game.

“It was really great to get back at it,” said Gallagher. “I am really happy about the game, it was an entertaining game.”

Gallagher was entertained by Johnson’s heroics on the first quarter drive.

“I think it was 40 yards on that play, that was impressive,” said Gallagher.

“He has a heckuva leg. My man, Jaxon Petrone, called it. He said coach get some points on the board, I was about  to go for it on fourth down. It was a long field goal and he said we got it. It was a good deal.”

It was very good for PHS to finish the night with the scoring march.

“That was really important, just stressing the idea of finishing the game on a positive note,” said Gallagher, who fist-bumped each player one by one as they came off the field after the score.

“We had a great crowd, you score a touchdown at the end and get that little bit of an eruption which is going to make the guys feel good going into the evening.”

Gallagher felt great about Ling’s TD. “I am very happy for him, I am glad,” said Gallagher.

“I gave him a little hug at the end. Jason is a captain so the expectations are high. He needs to play well all of the time. It was really good to see that.”

Johnson has been giving the Tigers an all-out effort. “I think he might have took off for two plays,” said Gallagher of Johnson. “He is the only player who plays every play.”

With PHS, now 1-6, hosting Cinnaminson (1-6) on October 23, Gallagher believes his squad will keep playing hard.

“Our guys are healthy which is awesome and they are all in; they are all doing a great job,” said Gallagher.

“We have a great core group of seniors, they are all doing a really nice job for us. As long as those guys are healthy and they want to keep playing football, we will keep scheduling games.”

Johnson is looking to make the most out of his final games for the Tigers.

“It is play as hard as we possibly can, especially for the seniors,” said Johnson.

“We need to be leaders to the underclassmen, show by example and let the tradition go on.”