Taking Its Lumps Last Fall in Youth Movement, Battle-Tested PHS Football Primed for 2023 Season
GOLD RUSH: Princeton High football star Tyler Goldberg looks to elude some tacklers in a game last fall. Senior running back and team captain Goldberg figures to be a key cog in the PHS offense this fall. The Tigers open their 2023 campaign by playing at Lawrence High on August 25. (Photo by Frank Wojciechowski)
By Bill Alden
Undergoing a youth movement by necessity last fall, the Princeton High football team took its lumps as it went 1-9.
Reaping the benefits of getting a slew of freshmen, sophomores, and juniors on the field, PHS enters the 2023 campaign as a battle-tested squad.
“I am seeing somewhat of an experienced team, I do see a big jump,” said Tiger head coach Charlie Gallagher, noting that 67 players showed up for preseason practice this summer, the largest turnout in his tenure guiding the program. “I feel like there are a lot of veterans out there. It is a good thing to have.”
That know-how was reflected in a scrimmage last week as PHS faced Trenton Central, Gloucester Catholic, and Boonton.
“We rushed the ball very well, which was really nice,” said Gallagher, whose team opens its 2023 campaign by playing at Lawrence High on August 25. “We really swarmed to the ball on defense. We had a lot of hats on the ball. We have a lot of experienced guys and I think getting a year or two under their belts, they understand the game a little bit more. The idea of rallying to the ball has been an emphasis and they showed that so we are excited.”
Gallagher is excited to have juniors Travis Petrone and Brady Collier returning at quarterback.
“Travis is going to get the nod, we have got to give him every opportunity to be successful,” said Gallagher of Petrone, who passed for 1,029 yards and four touchdowns last fall. “Then we will take a look at how Brady can fit in. Brady is a good football player too, so there is no doubt about that. They are both really good athletes.”
At running back, PHS boasts a good one-two punch of senior Tyler Goldberg and senior Evan Pease backed up by sophomores Carmine Carusone and Andrew Foreman. Goldberg rushed for 390 yards and six touchdowns in 2022 with Pease gaining 288 yards with two touchdowns.
“Goldberg and Pease are back, they are going to be phenomenal running backs for us,” said Gallagher. “In the scrimmage, Tyler broke off a 40-yard run right up the gut. He ran through a couple of guys, he showed some great power and speed. Evan is a sprinter, I don’t think anybody can catch him. We have two other young men that are going to provide some great depth. One is from last year, Andrew, and then the other one is Carmine, who came out this year. He had been playing club soccer. He broke off a nice 35-yard run for a touchdown in the scrimmage. It is amazing that we can say that we have four backs. I am so happy about that.”
The team’s corps of receivers that includes sophomore Ellington Hinds, junior Wyatt Arshan, senior Ben Walden, senior Remmick Granozio, and senior Jihad Wilder is also making Gallagher happy.
“Hinds will be our starting split end, he is going to do a really good job for us,” said Gallagher. “He has really matured — he is a really talented ballplayer. He is sleek. Wyatt and Ben are also going to be at wide receiver. We have got a fourth guy, and how excited are we for this. Remmick decided to come out and ‘wow’ — that is all I can say. He is a gamer and he really busts his tail in practice. He has got a great work ethic, he is a hustler. He shows that in basketball. Jihad is also from the basketball team. He is a little rough around the edges but he is an athlete, he is talented. If we get it going to the end zone, we can do the alley-oop to him.”
A pair of seniors, Anthony Famiglietti and Dante Digiulio, will be working at tight end.
“Anthony will be the starter and Dante, another basketball player, will be a backup,” added Gallagher. “He will be a role player.”
The Tiger offensive line features a bevy of good players in senior Jake Angelucci, junior Sean Wilton, sophomore Zyair Mackey-Wright, junior Leo Sarett, senior Woodenson Beauvais, and senior transfer Kwabena Afrifah.
“Our big guys will be returning; we have Jake at right guard, we are real happy about that,” said Gallagher. “Sean is at left tackle. We have got Leo, who played a lot at center for us last year. At right tackle, we are going to have Zyair. He was a freshman defensive end — he is a real big boy for us. The other guard is our transfer kid from J.P. Stevens, Kwabena. He is a mini Warren Sapp. He weighs about 265 and he is barrel-chested. He is only 6-foot or 5’11. He is out for 30 days due to transfer rules. The guy who is going to take his spot for now is Woodenson. We like him — he is a really good player.”
Across the defensive line, PHS will feature the guys playing in the trenches on offense along with Famiglietti and senior Mohammad Tamraz.
“Right now we can rotate two defensive lines in,” said Gallagher. “We have four starters but we have 1A and 1B.”
At linebacker, Gallagher believes the trio of Pease, junior Joe George, and junior Elisio Moncada will get the job done.
“Those are three guys who worked extremely hard in the weight room,” noted Gallagher. “I am excited, they look good.”
The secondary will feature Hinds, Petrone, Granozio, Goldberg, Walden, and Arshan.
“Ellington will be the free safety, Petrone will be the strong safety, and Remmick will back those guys up,” said Gallagher. “Our starting corners will be Tyler, Walden, and maybe Carmine. Wyatt will be out there too, he is a heady player.”
Overall, Gallagher believes that having a lot of guys on the squad gives him the flexibility to rotate players and get the most out of his roster.
“Staying healthy is good,” said Gallagher. “What is nice is that we do have some depth. We are able to keep people fresh.”
Gallagher is looking forward to opening the season at Lawrence for a second year in a row. In 2022, the Tigers led 6-0 heading into the second quarter only to lose 35-12 as Kandres Soto paced the Cardinals, rushing for 188 yards and three touchdowns.
“I am always excited for Lawrence; they will run a little bit of a different offense now, they don’t have that big back so they changed their tune a little bit,” said Gallagher. “They have a great atmosphere. They have a very good head coach [Rob Radice] and a lot of good coaches. We had a great showing with our fans last year. Our stands were packed, even the fence was mobbed. It was a beautiful evening so let’s cross our fingers that we get another one of those.”
Gallagher will also be crossing his fingers that his veteran squad will be utilizing last year’s lessons to get a bunch of wins this fall.