August 31, 2022

PHS Football Gets Off to Promising Start in Opener But Gets Worn Down as Lawrence Rolls to 35-12 Win

CATCHING ON: Princeton High football player Corey Woodson gets ready to make a catch last Friday against Lawrence High in the season opener for both teams. Sophomore wide receiver Woodson made three receptions for 77 yards in a losing cause as PHS fell 35-12 to the Cardinals. The Tigers host Riverside on September 3 in their home opener. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)

By Bill Alden

Charging onto the field at Lawrence High last Friday evening with some hollering and clapping as it started its 2022 campaign, the Princeton High football team was determined to make an opening statement.

Riding that wave of emotion, PHS stopped Lawrence cold on its first possession, forcing a three-and-out, prompting some whoops on the Tiger sideline.

Later in the quarter, the PHS defense recovered a fumble on the Cardinal 41 and the Tigers cashed in. Sophomore quarterback Brady Collier lofted a pass down the sideline to senior Ryan Friedman who made a leaping grab at the 10-yard line for a gain of 24 yards. Two plays later, Friedman raced for 13 yards on an end reverse for a first down at the 2-yard line. Junior running back Tyler Goldberg capped the drive, bursting into the end zone to make it 6-0 and then rushed over to high five student fans lined up on the fence near the end zone.

Things went downhill from there, however, for the Tigers as Lawrence’s bruising 240-pound running back Kandres Soto took over the contest. He rumbled for touchdown runs of four and 11 yards in the second quarter as Lawrence built a 14-6 halftime lead.

Soto added a third quarter TD on the way to rushing for 188 yards as the Cardinals wore down the Tigers on the way to a 35-12 win. As Lawrence pounded PHS, a number of Tiger players headed to the sidelines with cramps, pulled muscles, and assorted knocks.

In the waning moments of the contest, PHS junior running back Evan Pease sprinted 50 yards up the middle of the field for a touchdown to end the evening with a highlight for the Tigers.

While PHS head coach Charlie Gallagher acknowledged that his players got steamrollered by Soto, he had no qualms with their efforts.

“We did a good job at the start,” said Gallagher. “They had a little bit of a formula like they did last year (in a 44-26 win), pounding the ball. Football is a tough game. It is for special people and I am proud to be coaching all of these guys.”

The Tigers have some special young players as sophomores quarterback Brady Collier, wide receiver Corey Woodson, linebacker Judah Marks, linebacker Leo George, offensive lineman Sean Wilton, defensive lineman Leo Sarett, and receiver-quarterback Travis Petrone all contributed on Friday.

“I probably had 15 sophomores who were starting and all of those guys played phenomenal,” said Gallagher. “Brady had his moments. We got Corey into the mix, he had some catches (3 receptions-77 yards). Marks was a little bit banged up coming into the game. He is a football player, he does a good job. We got some good play from Leo, he is a second-year kid who played just a little bit of JV ball last year. Sean and Leo are also sophomores, we got some good play from those two guys. Travis came in at quarterback and made a couple of connections there.”

Seniors Friedman, Jake Richter, and Jack Callahan also provided some good play.

“Ryan had a couple of nice catches, he had a good reverse,” said Gallagher. “Callahan and Richter did a nice job on the line.”

The running back one-two punch of Goldberg and Pease showed promise.

“I think Tyler is our guy, he scared me there for a second when he went down but he came right back on the next play,” said Gallagher. “Pease is going to be good, it is a good tandem. We have got to get both of those guys in the mix. Evan is a second-year player. We have to figure out some things for him. He is playing defense right now but we don’t want to wear these guys too thin.”

In reflecting on the setback, Gallagher conceded that PHS has to be stronger in the trenches.

“We have to be better at tackling, the guy (Soto) was a beast to being down but we can’t be spinning off tackles and things like that,” said Gallagher. “We have to use good fundamentals when it comes to tackling, wrapping it up and bringing guys down to the ground. We have to get a little bit better on the offensive line; we tell the line we want to play on the defensive side of the ball and it was a stalemate. We have got to get some push.”

With the Tigers hosting Riverside on September 3 in its home opener, Gallagher is confident his squad can make a jump from game one to two with some video study. “When the guys see themselves on film, that is the best type of coaching,” said Gallagher. “You could say man you have to run faster, you got to make that block and the player will swear that he did that and there is an argument. Now there is no argument. It is on film, the eye on the sky doesn’t lie.”