FOOTBALL TAB -- Princeton not satisfied with 2012 result
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on August 22, 2013 1:47 PM
PRINCETON -- Derrick Minor laid the foundation for the type of program he's trying to build at Princeton last season.
The second-year coach hopes to add a few more bricks this fall.
The Bulldogs finished 5-9 a year ago and fell to Plymouth in the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 1-A (small-school) playoffs. The loss caused Minor to adopt the phrase "One More" as the theme for this season -- a reminder of missing the state finals by one game in 2012.
Proving last season wasn't a fluke has motivated Minor and his coaching staff, and the players all summer.
"This season is big," Minor said. "You don't want to have one big season and then have a let down. We're trying our best to remain humbly confident. If we can stay humble and appreciate what we've done, but stay confident and keep moving forward, that's the key.
"But you've always got to have that goal and the next game, that's the biggest game."
Junior quarterback Michael Wooten and tailback Johnny Frasier return to guide an offense that averaged 31 points a game during the final five games of last season. Wooten threw for 1,153 yards and four touchdowns in Minor's shotgun-oriented offense in 2012.
Another summer to learn Minor's system along with a strong showing in 7-on-7 passing league games has filled Wooten with valuable confidence. Rather than spending the offseason learning the offense, Wooten has been able to focus on fine tuning his reads and spending time in the weight room.
"I feel more comfortable this year with what I'm doing," Wooten said. "I think in the playoffs last year we started understanding the offense and how to run it and we took off with it. I think my reads and knowing who to throw to, and knowing when to pull the ball down and run, that's what's changed most."
Frasier quickly burst onto the scene last season as a sophomore and rushed for 870 yards and 10 touchdowns in Princeton's first six games. The physical pounding wore him down, but he finished with 1,792 yards and 21 touchdowns despite playing at 100 percent in an estimated five of 14 games.
Summer weight-room work has enabled Frasier to routinely shake off multiple defenders in preseason scrimmages. Known around the program as "Johnny Rockets," Frasier garnered attention from attending summer camps at N.C. State and North Carolina.
"I feel more confident because of the weight room. I'm stronger and I'm faster," Frasier said. "I didn't have my mind set on (the weight room) last year. I didn't know how important it was until injuries started happening and it was too late then.
"Every day when we're in the weight room I'm working hard now."
Executing trick plays to perfection became an integral part of Princeton's playoff success in 2012.
Minor views his knack for catching opponents off guard with unconventional plays as a fun way to invoke excitement in both his players and fans. In last year's playoff win at archrival Rosewood, Minor caught the Eagles by surprise in the first quarter when wide receiver Jamaal Allen connected with place kicker Ryne Woodard on a 38-yard touchdown pass.
The unorthodox offensive approach is a combination of Minor's imagination along with ideas borrowed from coaches and teams at various levels.
"It lets the kids have some fun," Minor said. "They're wondering what we're going to do next, plus the opponent is always wondering what we're going to do next. It gets the fans ready.
"You see teams like Boise State that are all over the place and you don't know what they're going to do. That's kind of what I like to model myself after. If we can keep that hint of mystery I think we'll catch some teams off-guard."
Matthew Peedin, Quinton Rhue, Waylan Woodall, Chris Sauls and Jarrett Pearce return to an offensive line that paved the way for the Bulldogs to amass more than 4,000 yards of offense a year ago.
Malcolm Best, 6-foot-5 Tanner Woodard, Martice Williams, Dillon Pace and Nick Hare comprise a receiving corps that has excited Minor this summer. Cody Garner and Kiadae Richardson should provide depth in the backfield behind Frasier.
The Bulldogs' defense got healthy toward the end of last season and began to gel as the playoffs approached. In its three playoff victories, Princeton held its opponents to 13 points a game.
A deep and talented group of linebackers should be the strength of the unit while questions remain with the secondary. Sophomore Adrian Whack, Garner, Pace, Williams and Jeremy Wells are part of a group of linebackers that Minor says "reloaded," rather than rebuilt.
Junior Vicente Mendez takes over the place-kicking duties from Woodard, who graduated. A soccer player, Mendez has made field goals of 40 yards this summer.
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