PRINCETON: Defense shines in PHS loss

By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
HAMILTON — Last year, a prolific offense helped the Princeton High football team to an 8-2 record and a berth in the Central Jersey Group 4 playoffs.
In the Little Tigers’ season-opening game against Hamilton West, it was the defense that led the way in a 10-7 loss to the Hornets.
“Our defense played a great game,” Princeton coach Charlie Gallagher said. “We limited them to 10 points. We’re not used to scoring just seven points. I think we scored seven points last year just once and that was against Ewing.
“The positive is the defense right now. We have to limit our turnovers. We have to move the ball. We’ll look at the drawing board and try to correct our mistakes and get better for next week.”
Princeton’s offense figures to improve along with the health of running back Rory Helstrom, who missed all three pre-season scrimmages and was limited in his use against Hamilton. But despite the opening loss, there were reasons for the Little Tigers to be optimistic as they head deeper into the season.
“I liked the play from our interior line guys, especially early on in the game,” said Gallagher, whose team will play at Ewing tonight. “(Noah) Ziegler, (Matt) Toplin and (Ethan) Guerra did a great job. Matt Hawes did a nice job. We got after the quarterback a lot. They just have an elusive quarterback and you need to stay in your lanes and be focused and fill your gaps.”
There were positives on offense, as sophomore Jake Green caught three passes for 38 yards passes and quarterback David Beamer finished with 10 completions for 110 yards. But the offense wasn’t quite what it was a year ago when the Little Tigers averaged 37.5 points a game.
“We have to move the ball,” Gallagher said. “We didn’t move the ball all that well in any of the scrimmages. We were on the verge.”
Princeton came the closest to a win of any of the local teams in the opening weekend. West Windsor-Plainsboro North dropped a 21-0 decision to Steinert to open the season and the Knights face a tough task tonight when they host Allentown.
WW-P South fell to Hightstown, 34-10, in its opener and the Pirates will take to the road on Saturday to face Nottingham. Jordan DeGroote scored South’s lone touchdown against Hightstown on a 69-yard touchdown run. The Pirates led, 10-7, at halftime before the Rams pulled away for the win.
Lawrence dropped a 41-18 decision to Ewing. The Cardinals will host Delran on Saturday.
Montgomery opened the season with a 35-6 loss to Westfield. The Cougars are home again when they host North Hunterdon. Matt Stagnitta connected with Daniel Young on a touchdown pass to account for the Cougars’ scoring. 