JV Tigers Go 4-0 for Undefeated Season
BY REBECCAH BARGER
The 44-20 win over Colgate caught Varsity up to what the Junior Varsity team had accomplished only six days earlier: a 4-0 record. While the Tigers still have six games ahead of them, for the freshmen and sophomores who regularly matched up against their opponents on Sunday afternoons, their JV season is over. For them, 4-0 can be expressed in other words: undefeated.
JV kicked off its season against Moravian College. The Greyhounds headed out to the Tigers practice fields on Sept. 13 for a 10-and-10 series. The controlled scrimmage capped the three weeks of Princeton preseason and was the first time the new team tested its chemistry together against a different jersey. And for the freshmen, it marked their first snap of competitive collegiate football.
“Coming in, learning the offense and knowing what was going on play-wise was really hard the first two weeks,” Chris Ryan, freshman offensive lineman, said. “The tempo of the team is a lot different than my high school team. It’s the next level. Going from pee-wee football to high school is a jump, and high school to college is an even bigger jump.”
The scrimmage provided more structure than their games would in the coming weeks. The 10-and-10 series put the Princeton offense on the field for 10 plays before turning the ball over to the Greyhounds, who would face the Tiger defense for another 10 chances, regardless of turnovers.
Despite still shaking off the rust from the summer, the Tigers didn’t seem to feel any pressure from the Greyhounds. Princeton claimed victory and looked forward to a Saturday Lafayette steamroll and their first unstructured JV game against Kean University on Sept. 20.
“Moravian was a great test for us because it was the first time in all of camp we got to hit someone in a different jersey, so it was great to just get on the field and play someone else for the first time,” Mike Perloski, sophomore rush linebacker. “The first scrimmage was a 10-and-10 series, so it’s 10 plays on then 10 plays off, whereas in a game you have turnovers. You can be on the field for one play and force a turnover, or the offense could be on the field for one play. You have to be prepared for that sudden change, so I’d say that’s one of the biggest added aspects to a game.”
The Princeton defense exploded against the Cougars. Perloski caught attention in his performance against the opposing offensive line, breaking through to sack the quarterback – a trend that would continue throughout the season. Freshman defensive back Ben Ellis also seemed to be finding his footing, applying his tackling work from camp to the games.
“Because of the speed of guys at this level, I wanted to work on open field tackling, which was a big part of camp, and something I wanted to carry into the JV games,” Ellis said. “As a defensive back, it’s also tough getting lined up right and knowing everyone’s responsibilities. If someone doesn’t know their responsibilities, then the offense will exploit it, and they will end up making a big play, so everyone has to be on the same page and communicate their job in the play.”
Kean fell just as quickly as Moravian. The Tigers beat the Cougars 28-8.
The offense shined in its next match-up against Widener University, keeping up the high-scoring offensive streak after a 52-26 win over Lehigh the day before. Princeton dominated 36-8.
The Tigers made a strong showing by the offensive line, opening up lanes for the running backs. Sophomore quarterbacks Joe Salter and Nick Peabody entered the JV season with a year of experience already under their belts, knowing which aspects of their game to focus on and how to translate their technique onto the field.
“I kind of struggled at the beginning of camp because I was rusty. It was a lot mentally, since we have a pretty complicated offense. Assimilating all the information and playing fast is big for us,” Peabody said. “I want to work on everything, like knowing the offense a little better and getting more consistent throwing the ball – that’s the biggest focus for me. I think we did well on JV, though. The line blocked really well up front, so we were able to run the ball every single game.”
It was their last competitors, Milford Academy, that provided the strongest challenge for their unbeaten season.
“Talent wise, [Milford was] the only aggressive competition we had because of the way they schemed against us in the box, with eight guys,” sophomore wide receiver Spencer Cotton said. “We kind of had to adjust to their play. I know that we were more prone to taking the shot down field every once in a while so they couldn’t get away with just putting one man back. Adapting to the different speeds we see and just employing technique we go over in practice against different looks, at least for the outside guys, is the biggest part of JV game.”
Milford also challenged the Tigers defense through their physicality and speed.
“They really spread the field out on offense and had a lot of play-makers outside,” Ellis said. “I thought we did a really good job of handling those guys and communicating and getting ourselves in the right position to make plays. They were the biggest and fastest team that we played. They were very quick, and they would throw the ball up a lot and let their guys go get it.”
The scoreboard didn’t show the challenge Milford posed to the Tigers, as Princeton capped their undefeated season with a 30-6 win over the Storm.
“[Milford] was a good challenge. It was a close game right until the end, but I’m excited how we really fought all the way to the end of the game,” Perloski said. “We only have so many football games left in our lives, so it’s about making the best of everything. I have a lot of friends that play college football and not every school offers this opportunity or gets this opportunity, so to be able to have JV games and further your development is phenomenal.”