Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

October 3, 2013

Princeton faces another highly-ranked foe

PRINCETON — It never gets any easier for the Princeton football team.

Up next for the Tigers is George Washington (4-0), which is tied for second in the Class AAA ratings with Capital, who the Tigers played earlier in the season and lost in overtime.

Princeton (2-3) enters having lost three straight after opening season wins over Shady Spring and Bluefield.

Kickoff at Hunnicutt Stadium tonight is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Randy Peek, Princeton’s second year head coach feels like the Tigers have had chances to win all three of those games, falling against Capital (29-28), Hurricane (41-21) and Spring Valley (21-14)

“At Hurricane we were down with seven minutes to go in the fourth quarter, we tried an onside kick and got it and had a chance,” Peek said. “Against Spring Valley, we gave up 21 points in the first half, and then lost 21-14, and turnovers killed us.

“Against Capital we had our chances, but it didn’t go our way.”

George Washington has been led by a trio of transfers to a 4-0 start, scoring 34, 35, 55 and had 69 in a 60-point win over Hurricane in its most recent outing.

“They have a real good running game,” Peek said. “They don’t throw a lot, I think they have thrown like 30 times in four games. They run right at you, kind of what Spring Valley gave us. They are more of an I-team and they spread the field.”

The Patriots are led by Draven Riffe, who has run for 810 yards and 12 touchdowns in just four games. Another transfer, Schleider Alexander, is the quarterback for George Washington.

“The Riffe kid has carried the load most of the time,” Peek said. “(Alexander) is the quarterback, he is 22 for 30 throwing this year so he doesn’t put the ball up a whole lot, but he is very accurate.”

Slowing down the high-powered Patriots will be the task ahead for the Tigers.

“I think we need to have 11 people flying to the football,” Peek said. “The first couple of games we were all over the place, and now it seems we are relaxed and waiting for someone else to make a tackle or make a play.

“We have got to have 11 people to the football. We have to play swarming football, be active and get after it.”

Tahj Sho-Johnson has led Princeton this season with around 500 yards on the ground, while Jordan Jones ran for 160 in the loss to Hurricane. Jay Palmer, the much-improved junior quarterback, continues to progress for the Tigers.

“He still lacks some on fundamentals and we are stressing fundamentals and he is getting it,” Peek said. “It is a long process and big learning curve for him, but he is coming along. We are not going to give up on him...

“We have got to get him to the edge and that will open things up Tahj and everybody else. For our offense to be successful, everybody has to do their jobs.”

Getting the Princeton backs to the outside is key to what the Tigers hope to accomplish against the Patriots.

“The first two or three games we moved the ball. Against Capital we moved the ball well,” Peek said. “No one was taking away the dive so we didn’t have to run the option as much.

“We have got to be able to get to the edge and that will open up the middle. We have to be able to move the ball and not get down to 3rd and long. We can’t put ourselves in those situations.”

Not only is the MSAC schedule a tall task for anyone, but so are the different styles of play, from Hurricane, which threw the ball all over the field in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Tigers, to Spring Valley, which ran right at the Princeton defense to build an early lead.

“That is what we have talked about all week,” Peek said. “They will spread the field and could try to take chance down the field. We have to stop the run and make them throw the football.

“We have worked hard to clean up what we did against Hurricane.”

Peek doesn’t think his Tigers will be intimidated by the high rating of the Patriots, especially after scaring Capital earlier in the season, and that game was on the road.

“I think they do (think they can beat them),” Peek said. “Last week we came out flat and the kids finally realized at halftime that we could play with them and we made a few adjustments.

“They believe they can beat George Washington and certainly the coaching staff does too. We have to go out there and put four quarters together.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

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