11/20/09 — Princeton community embracing, enjoying football team

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Princeton community embracing, enjoying football team

By Ryan Hanchett
Published in Sports on November 20, 2009 1:47 PM

Absence has truly made the heart grow fonder. Especially in the Princeton High football program.

Starved for victories for nearly three decades, the Dawgs will play their second consecutive home game tonight against Hobbton in the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A (small-school) playoffs.

Princeton last hosted back-to-back home postseason contests in 1981.

"I think our guys would have played on Monday night if that were an option," said Princeton head coach Russell Williamson. "They are excited and I think they are ready to get out there. There is only so much you can do at practice this time of year."

The Dawgs defeated the Wildcats earlier this season.

And that's not the only storyline surrounding the Princeton program.

Senior quarterback David Gurganus, the state's second-leading passer, has thrown for 3,356 yards and 31 touchdowns in the spread offense. Senior receiver Patrick Jacobs has hauled in an area-leading 1,375 yards and 10 touchdowns in 12 outings.

Princeton supporters hope to see that same offense that has collected a program-best 387 points during Williamson's second tenure at the Carolina Conference school.

"I think that we have found our niche on that side of the ball," said Williamson. "Our guys have been practicing in this system since June and they feel comfortable with what we are doing, so there won't be a lot of changes as the playoffs roll on."

One thing that has changed is the way that the school and the community look at the football field. No longer a place of futility, the gridiron has brought out the best in both the players and the fans.

"It's been a lot of fun getting to a point where we have nine wins," said Williamson. "We have had so many people come and congratulate the guys for the job that they have done. The support has been great all season and I don't think our guys are satisfied with nine wins."

Hobbton (8-4) has vastly improved in its wing-T offense since its season-opening loss to Princeton. The Wildcats carry a six-game win streak into the game and Williamson expects a much different challenge.

"One thing that I have seen on film is that they are throwing the ball much better than they were at the beginning of the season," said Williamson. "Our guys have seen the wing-T quite a few times this year, so hopefully our guys will be ready."