Princeton High football season preview, 2016 (with practice PHOTOS)
9/18/2016 11:41 AM
By Andrew Borders | For NJ Advance Media 
on August 24, 2016 5:00 PM

In coach Charlie Gallagher’s three years leading the Princeton High football team, the Tigers have been up, down and in between.

Or, perhaps more accurately, down, up and in between, with an 0-10 first season of 2013 preceding an 8-1 start before a first-round playoff loss to Brick Township two years ago. 

Last season saw Princeton slip to 4-6 with two losses to end the campaign.

This fall, the schedule provides a tough early test, with Pemberton, which finished 9-2 last year, coming to town on Sept. 9 for the opener. After that, the Tigers go three weeks without facing a team that had a winning record last year until Steinert (8-3) visits Oct. 7.

“We’ve got to surprise some teams,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got to get out to a fast start.”

That Pemberton team will meet a Princeton roster with a new quarterback and a new leading rusher, with starter David Beamer’s 1,400-plus passing yards having graduated along with Rory Helstrom’s more than 1,200 yards rushing. Jakob Green, who led the team with nearly 600 yards receiving, is back, as isAlex Solopenkov, giving the Tigers two of four players who had more than 100 yards receiving last season. 

“We’ll be dependent on those guys a lot,” Gallagher said. “Alex is super-fast. Jakob has got great hands, a great athlete. Both will play some defense for us as well.”

Junior Vince Doran had the inside track to the starting quarterback role, and the Tigers have options to succeed Beamer as well.

“Doran is doing a real nice job taking command of the offense, so we’re real happy with him,” Gallagher said. “(We’ve) got other players in there. Ryan Benattar, a sophomore, and (sophomore) Aiden Serafin, and then we’ve got a nice freshman,Jay Jackson. But right now, Vince is the guy.”

The quarterback role would be a switch for Doran, who used his athleticism in the defensive backfield last year.

“He’s got a great arm and he’s running the ball well and doing a nice job for us,” Gallagher said.

With that confidence in Duran, and Green and Solopenkov back, Gallagher said the offense would tip toward the pass while the team’s running backs find their footing in picking up for Helstrom.

“I think we’re real talented at the wide receiver corps, and our running backs are young, so we’re trying to figure that out,” Gallagher said. “I think we’ll open it up a little bit more in the passing game and see where that takes us.”

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