Tiger Football Returns Saturday In Showdown Of League Champs During Community/Staff Day Celebration
Princeton is coming off a magical 2016 season, one that won’t soon be forgotten by players, coaches, or fans alike. The Tigers used one of the most dominant late-season stretches of football to claim the program’s 11th Ivy League title, its second in the last four years.
That’s great. And that’s finished.
The 149th season of Princeton Football begins Saturday, and there is an equal amount of both optimism and unanswered questions that this team faces before its noon kickoff (Eleven Sports, ILN, WPRB, TuneIn) against Pioneer League champion San Diego.
Saturday marks a 10-game sprint — no bye weeks here — towards what the team hopes will be another championship season. There will be plenty of ways to follow the team throughout the season, but none better than being in Princeton Stadium cheering your Tigers along. Tickets are still available for Saturday’s game, which will follow the annual Youth Clinic on Weaver Track (more information below).
You’ve waited long enough. It’s go time.
|Week 1: San Diego (1-1) at Princeton (0-0)|
|Date • Time • Location||Sept. 19 • 12 pm • Powers Field at Princeton Stadium|
|Watch Live||Eleven Sports (check local listings) l Ivy League Network|
|Tickets||Princeton Ticket Office|
|Radio||103.3 FM l Listen Live on the TuneIn App|
|Game Coverage||Live Stats l @PUTigers l @PUTigerFootball|
|All-Time Series||Princeton leads 2-1|
|Last Meeting • Current Streak||SAN DIEGO 39, Princeton 29 l San Diego 1 win|
|Princeton Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|San Diego Information||Game Notes l Roster l Schedule l Statistics|
|Ivy League||Standings l Statistics l Weekly Release|
|Last Week||no games|
|Next Week||Sept. 23: Princeton at Lafayette (6 pm, Fisher Field)|
Saturday’s Ivy League showdown on Powers Field will be televised live on Eleven Sports (check local listings) and streamed on the Ivy League Network (subscription required). Bill Spaulding and Matt Goldstein will call the action for One World Sports. The game can be heard live on WPRB 103.3 FM and the Princeton TuneIn App, with Cody Chrusciel and Pat McCarthy providing the call.Community & Staff Day
Once again, the Tiger home opener also serves as Community and Staff Day at Princeton Stadium. The first 1,000 fans at Princeton Stadium can pick up an Orange Out t-shirt. Prior to kickoff, the game ball will be delivered from high above Princeton Stadium, courtesy of Fastrax. At halftime, Ivy championship teams from the winter and spring of 2017 will be honored on Powers Field.Prior to the game, there will be a Youth Clinic on the neighboring Weaver Track (10:30-11:30). Princeton student-athletes, representing a variety of varsity sports, will come to Weaver Track to work with the children and teach them the general skills and techniques associated with their respective sports. In the past, the student-athletes have staffed approximately 15 sport and activity stations, including basketball, soccer, lacrosse, track & field and volleyball, to name a few.Watch On The Go
If you can’t be at Princeton Stadium Saturday for the season opener, you can watch the game — as well as hundreds of other Princeton events this year — on the new Ivy League Network (ILN) mobile app. The ILN app will enable fans to personalize their ILN experience by choosing their favorite team, and will remind subscribers about upcoming events and new on-demand content through customizable push notifications. The ILN, which is also available on Apple TV and Roku, will stream seven of Princeton’s 10 games this season; the exceptions are the game at Lafayette, and the NBC Sports Network games against Harvard and Cornell.
Princeton won its 11th Ivy League championship last season in dominant fashion, leading the Ivy League in total/scoring/rushing offense AND total/scoring/rushing defense, en route to an 8-2 overall record and a 6-1 Ivy record.
From 2007-2014, Princeton lost eight straight season openers, but it enters this season having won each of its last two. The 2016 Ivy championship season began with a wild 35-31 win over Lafayette, when the Tigers trailed three different times before rallying the second half for the win.
The last time Princeton lost a season opener, it was in almost the exact same situation it faces today — going against San Diego following a championship season. That was the 2014 opener, when the Toreros scored at least one touchdown in every quarter for a 39-29 home win.
This will be the 4th time Princeton has played San Diego; the Tigers lead the all-time series 2-1.
I Wonder What Happened To Him?
The last time Princeton hosted San Diego was during the 2005 season, when eventual All-America cornerback Jay McCareins intercepted three passes and returned one for a 99-yard touchdown to lead the Tigers to a 20-17 win at Princeton Stadium.
The Toreros were led by second-year head coach Jim Harbaugh, who was in his first stop as a head coach.
We Are The Champions (And So Are They)
While Princeton won its last four games to clinch the 2016 Ivy League championship, San Diego went 8-0 in conference play to win the Pioneer Football League. The Toreros made the most of their berth to the NCAA playoffs by routing Cal Poly in the first round of the postseason. They were eliminated by FCS power North Dakota in the second round.
The Ivy League does not send its champion to the NCAA playoffs.
Armed And Ready
Senior quarterback Chad Kanoff has started Princeton’s last 20 games (13-7), and he earned All-Ivy League honors last season while leading the Tigers to the Ivy League title. He enters Saturday’s game ranked fifth on Princeton’s all-time passing list, though he could end the day as high as third and bypass the reigning NFL Head Coach of the Year:
PRINCETON PASSING LEADERS
|1.||Doug Butler, 1983-85||7,291 yds|
|2.||Matt Verbit, 2001-04||5,202 yds|
|3.||Jason Garrett, 1987-88||4,274 yds|
|4.||Jeff Terrell, 2003-06||4,166 yds|
|5.||Chad Kanoff, 2013-present||4,036 yds|
If Kanoff passes Terrell (he needs 131 yards to do so), he would hold the distinction of having thrown the most yards for Princeton while also starting for an Ivy championship team.
You Gotta Lovett
While Kanoff brings plenty of experience to the offense, the reigning Bushnell Cup winner as the Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year will miss Saturday’s game due to injury. John Lovett, who broke the program’s single-season rushing record with 20 TDs on the ground last season, had offseason surgery and will miss time this year.
Front Of The Line
While there are experienced players throughout the roster, the position with the most returning starters is the offensive line. Princeton lost one starter on the line (center Mason Darrow), but it returns three players who have started at least 10 games, and one who has started the last 20 games at left tackle.
That player is reigning first-team All-Ivy League senior Mitchell Sweigart, who bulked up to 290 pounds during the offseason and has already drawn the interest of NFL scouts this preseason. Erik Ramirez (2nd team) and Reily Radosevich (H.M.) also earned All-Ivy recognition.
While Chad Kanoff brings his experience to the passing game, he will be seeking out plenty of new targets this season. Junior All-Ivy wideout Jesper Horsted caught 30 passes last season, while classmate Charlie Volker caught 20, but no other current Tiger had more than seven. Overall, only 47% of Princeton’s receptions from last season will be from players available for the San Diego game.
A Kurt Response
Senior tri-captain Kurt Holuba is coming off a third-team All-America season, and he was named a finalist for Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year honors. Holuba recorded eight sacks and 10 tackles for loss during his first-team All-Ivy League performance. Among returning Princeton players this season, he led the team in tackles, sacks, tackles for loss, and interceptions last season.
New Faces In New Places
While Holuba is set to lead the defense, there will likely be eight new starters on the unit for today’s game. Princeton graduated the majority of its top players from a squad that led the Ivy League in total, scoring, and rushing defense.
Princeton graduated its first, second, third, fourth, fifth, seventh, and ninth-leading tacklers from the 2016 season. The only two from the top nine still around are seniors Holuba (6th, 34) and Mark Fossati (8th, 27).
Chance Of A Lifetime
Senior Chance Melancon moved into the starting lineup during Week 3 of the 2016 season, and Princeton went 7-1 with only an overtime loss the rest of the season. Melancon is the leader in a defensive backfield that will see new starters at the other corner and both safety positions.
Projected junior starting inside linebacker Thomas Johnson is the eldest of three Johnson family members on the team. His cousin Sam Johnson is a sophomore projected to be the backup tight end, while Thomas’ younger brother James is a freshman battling for a spot in the linebacker/special teams rotation.
Sophomore Will Johnson, who moved from wide receiver to cornerback in the offseason, is not related.
The Johnsons aren’t the only brothers on the Princeton football team. Junior tackle Stefan Ivanisevic, who started several games during the Ivy championship season last year, welcomed his younger brother Nikola, a Tiger freshman, to the offensive line group this season.
After a dramatic finish to the 2016 Ivy League season, the media is predicting another tight race this season. Both Princeton and Harvard shared first place in the annual preseason poll, while Penn finished just below those two schools. All three teams had either five or six first-place votes.
Coach ‘Em Up
Bob Surace ’90, the Charles W. Caldwell Jr. ’25 Head Coach of Football, is the reigning Ivy League Head Coach of the Year after leading Princeton to the 2016 Ivy League title. One of two men to win an Ivy League football title as both a coach and a player, Surace has been named a finalist for the FCS Head Coach of the Year award three times in the last five years. You can follow Bob Surace on twitter at @CoachBobSurace.
Saturday begins the 20th season of football here in Princeton Stadium, one of two homes for Tiger football over the last 103 years. Standing on the grounds of the venerable Palmer Stadium, Powers Field at Princeton Stadium has hosted a number of memorable Tiger contests since its opening on Sept. 19, 1998.
Princeton has had three players selected in the NFL Draft over the last five years (Mike Catapano ’13, Caraun Reid ’14, and Seth DeValve ’16). Both Reid and DeValve have scored multiple touchdowns in their young NFL careers, and DeValve had a strong opening day for Cleveland last week. He caught a career-best four passes in a 21-18 loss to Pittsburgh.
The Crystal Ball
Princeton plays its first road game of the season next weekend when it heads to Fisher Stadium in Easton, Pa., for a 6 pm showdown against Lafayette. The Tigers have won nine straight in the series, including last year’s comeback win in the season opener.
Fans close enough to the Easton area can watch the game live on the Lafayette Sports Network (check local listings).
Home Sweet Home
Princeton returns home Sept. 30 at 12:30 pm for its Ivy League opener against Columbia. It will be Youth Day/Camper Reunion at Princeton Stadium, and a select number of rally towels will be give out. The game will be televised on Eleven Sports and streamed live on the Ivy League Network.
Princeton Football • By The Numbers
1 • latest Princeton ranking among universities by U.S. News & World Report
6 • televised Princeton games this season; eight of the 10 games will alsobe shown on the ILN or ESPN3
9 • Princeton football players who have been awarded Rhodes Scholarships
11 • Ivy League Championships won by Princeton since the league officially formed in 1956
15 • Princeton players picked in the NFL Draft; three were taken in the last five years
22 • career interceptions by Dean Cain, former “Superman” star; total remains an Ivy League record
26 • Princeton players and coaches who are in the College Football Hall of Fame
28 • national titles won by Princeton; no college football program can claim more
42 • number worn by 1951 Heisman Trophy recipient Dick Kazmaier; no Princeton player has worn the number since
43.7 • points per game scored by the Ivy champion 2013 Princeton Tigers; total remains an Ivy League record
72 • Princeton’s total first-team All-America honorees; John Lovett (2016) is the most recent
153 • points Princeton scored during its last four must-win games of the 2016 title season; the opposing teams combined for only 31
193 • career receptions for Kevin Guthrie, the all-time Princeton leader
1869 • the year of the first college football game, played between Rutgers and Princeton
1878 • Princeton’s first “Big Three” title; the University celebrates with a bonfire on Cannon-Green when the Tigers sweep Harvard and Yale
4,208 • career rushing yards for Keith Elias, the Princeton record holder
27,800 • seating capacity at Princeton Stadium, which celebrates its 20th year in 2017, and where our tradition continues this season