FOOTBALL TAB -- Princeton preview
By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 19, 2010 2:23 PM
Princeton could deliver a surprise upset this season -- only because so little might be required of the Bulldawgs in 2010.
Sixteen seniors, including a record-setting quarterback and receiver, helped lead the program to its most-successful campaign since the 1970s one year ago. Princeton emerged the Carolina 1-A Conference runner-up and advanced to the eastern semifinals of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 1-A playoffs.
The expectations still exist.
The latest edition of the Dawgs, described as young and aggressive, are out to prove last year wasn't a flash in the pan.
"This is a whole different set of kids," said Princeton head coach Russell Williamson. "Everybody has different talents and we can't really compare this team to what we did last year ... wouldn't be fair to these kids."
Just five starters return.
Junior Javontae Davis is the lone offensive performer back in Princeton's spread attack. The 5-foot-8, 161-pounder accounted for nearly 350 yards of total offense and two touchdowns in 2009.
Junior Gary Allen (6-3, 225) and sophomore Austin Jacobs (6-4, 200) spearhead the defensive line. Austin Hinton returns to patrol the secondary, while Alan Cook will see some new faces in the linebacking corps.
The Dawgs have size in some areas and aren't much smaller than last year's team, which countered larger opponents with a deadly offensive scheme. Injuries would further deplete a team already thin on depth at some positions.
"Defensively, we're just raw," said Williamson. "(Defensive coordinator) John (Jacobs) said that he had to start over. The secondary is a concern right now. We feel like the kids are capable, it's just a matter of learning the schemes ... where they have to be and when they have to be there.
"The benefit is kids we're replacing them with played JV in this system. They'll get to the ball and are not scared of contact."
Williamson is expecting production from a number of players -- Hinton, Cook, Jamaal Allen, Joey Harris, Matt Canada, Jake Sullivan, Deric Copes, Forrest Stewart and Tyler Craft. Harris, Canada and Craft served back-up roles last season.
Either Brad Williamson or Jacobs will run the offensive show.
"We spent all summer working on our passing game," said coach Williamson. "I think our challenge is getting these young kids to go to the right spots. Our quarterbacks are young and they have to learn how to make the correct reads, and not let a simple mistake compound into a bigger one.
"If nothing is open, they'll need to tuck it and run."
Williamson is confident with his guys in the trenches. He likes the team chemistry and said a majority of the team's physical conditioning in the offseason came through the passing game.
Out of 45 kids who have attended practice daily, just five are seniors.
Princeton opens its season at home Friday against Hobbton. Williamson's club plays three of its four games at the Fred Bartholomew Complex, and opens its Carolina Conference slate Oct. 8 at Spring Creek.
The Dawgs were 4-2 in non-league play a year ago.
"It's probably going to take us two or three games for this group to gather themselves and understand how the game is played on the varsity level," said Williamson. "They've got to get some experience in game situations to realize just how different it is. I don't see this group backing down.
"There is a lot of character in this group, a lot of heart."