With PHS Football Boasting Strength in Numbers, Tigers Excited for Season Opener at Lawrence High
ON THE PROWL: Princeton High football player Anthony Famiglietti looks to make a hit last fall. Junior linebacker Famiglietti, who was second on the team in tackles in 2021, figures to be a key performer again this season for the PHS defensive unit. The Tigers kick off their 2022 campaign by playing at Lawrence High on August 26. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Charlie Gallagher has received his players undivided attention this month as the Princeton High football team has gone through its preseason practices.
With football kicking off earlier than the other fall sports under the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) Week 0 scheduling format, the squad has trained in solitude.
“It is great, we are the only team out there; we have already had 12 practices and field hockey and soccer start this Monday,” said PHS head coach Gallagher, whose team opens its 2022 campaign by playing at Lawrence High on August 26. “It is nice, we have a game on Friday and we still have no school. There is a little more flexibility here. I can go home and work on my football. They are going to have their second game and they are still not even in school. I love it.”
Gallagher loves the turnout he has gotten this fall with a roster of 49 players.
“We have good numbers, it is one of our better years,” said Gallagher, who guided the Tigers to a 2-7 record last fall. “We have a good number of freshmen who have come out.”
Last Friday, the Tigers put in a good effort as it tuned up with a tri-scrimmage at Millburn.
“It was nice,” said Gallagher. “I always feel offensively it takes us a little time to get going and rightfully so but even in this scrimmage, we did make some real positive gains.”
Dealing with the void left by the graduation of star quarterback Jaxon Petrone, Gallagher realizes it might take a little time for his offense to get in synch as a trio of players, junior Ben Walden, sophomore Brady Collier, and sophomore Travis Petrone, are competing at QB.
“I have got three guys vying for it and they are three good athletes,” said Gallagher. “It is a quarterback-driven league. We may have to platoon them or whatever until we find the guy that is going to hit the right stride.”
Junior Tyler Goldberg is hitting his stride at tailback. “Tyler looks really good, he is going to be our bell cow,” said Gallagher. “From the beginning, even in the summer, he has done a great job for us. He had a good scrimmage at Millburn. He looked really good and had a couple of touchdowns.”
To add variety to the rushing game, PHS will also be using junior Evan Pease at running back.
“Evan is a real big, tall, fast kid; he played some lax this year and played some football for us last year,” said Gallagher. “We are hoping he will be a change of pace. Tyler is more of a shifty running back and this kid is more just one cut and go to the hole.”
Senior Ryan Friedman, senior Risshabh Bhardwaj, sophomore Corey Woodson, freshman Ellinton Hinds, and sophomore Wyatt Arshan will head up the receiving corps.
“Ryan is going to be one of our flankers, he is doing a nice job for us,” said Gallagher. “Risshabh is probably going to slide down to tight end. Corey could be a starter. Ellinton is a big, tall kid and a good athlete. He is 6’2 as a freshman. Wyatt played in our Audubon game last year. We went for a third receiver in that game and he was the third receiver.”
Along the offensive line, senior Jack Callahan, sophomore Sean Wilton, senior Isaiah Nazario, junior Jake Angelucci, and senior Jake Richter have emerged as starters. Callahan and Richter will be the tackles with Wilton and Angelucci at guard and Nazario holding down the center spot.
“You lose both tackles from last year but we have a junior in the mix with two sophomores and two seniors,” said Gallagher. “I am very happy about that.”
Gallagher is happy with how the line is coming together.
“Jack played center last year and broke his leg and has made a tremendous comeback; from day one, he is out there on the field, no ifs, ands, or buts,” said Gallagher.
“He had a great offseason, he rehabbed that leg. He had the surgery the day after the injury and from day one, he was on the road to recovery. He was a really good center but we moved him to left tackle. At the left guard spot, we have a sophomore in Sean and I am really excited about this kid. He was a really good thrower for our track team as a freshman. Our center right now, Isaiah, was one of our guards last year. Jake has moved from tight end down to the guard spot and we are really happy with him. He can move a lot of guys around, he is much bigger than he was last year. Jake had a great offseason; he was at camp all summer but he worked out and came in shape and ready to go.”
On the defensive line, Gallagher will be mixing and matching to get the most out of his talent.
“We are going with three down linemen on the defensive this year,” said Gallagher. “Our noseguard is a sophomore, Leo Sarett. Our defensive ends will be Callahan, Angelucci, Richter, and Wilton. We will rotate; to get guys off the field is important. You want fresh guys running after the passer.”
As for the linebacking crew, the Tigers boast a solid group in sophomore Judah Marks, sophomore Joe George, junior Anthony Famiglietti, sophomore Elisio Moncada, freshman Jheki Gordon, and Pease.
“We have got have two guys in the middle; Judah led our team in tackles last year as a freshmen with 49 tackles,” said Gallagher. “He is a solid kid. Joe did a nice job in our scrimmage. He handled himself pretty well. He had a great offseason, he is the strongest kid on our team. We are going to take one of our middle linebackers from last year, Anthony, and move him outside. We have got three guys who will be rotating there with Evan, Elisio, and Jheki.”
The secondary will feature backs and receivers doing double duty.
“Ben, Travis, and Tyler at the corners; we rotate between those three and then the safeties are Ryan, Ellinton, and Wyatt,” said Gallagher.
In Gallagher’s view, excelling in the trenches on both sides of the ball is a key to success for PHS.
“I am happy with our offensive line, it is a strength,” said Gallagher. “Our tailback is only as good as the offensive line. If the offensive line is moving people, Tyler is going to get rushing yards. He is a real running back. On defense, we had a freshman that was the leading tackler last year in Judah. Anthony, our second leading tackler, was a sophomore. These guys have a year under their belts, they are going to get more tackles this year. I think we are probably more athletic on the defensive side of the ball.”
With PHS having lost 44-26 to Lawrence to end the 2021 season, Gallagher is looking forward to the opening night rematch against the Cardinals.
“They had some big boys and they just pounded the rock with three guys in the backfield, we are going to prepare for that,” said Gallagher, referring to last year’s contest. “We will try to establish our running game, that is the goal. We have to hold on to the ball. We have to see what our offensive line is all about and see if Tyler can get into the end zone a few times. I will be excited about that.”