Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

August 31, 2012

Peek finds nothing good from losing

PRINCETON — Randy Peek didn’t find much to be happy about after Princeton’s season-opening 32-14 loss at Woodrow Wilson.

That is not a surprising development.

“I have always said nothing good comes from losing,” said Peek, entering his fifth week as Princeton’s head football coach. “They can say what they want to, but my motto is nothing good comes from losing and we’re going to try and correct that.”

 Peek did come up with one positive from the contest.

“I don’t think the kids ever quit,” Peek said. “They went to the last whistle and I was excited about that.”

They’ll have to do that tonight as well when the Tigers (0-1) travel to Mitchell Stadium to face Bluefield (0-1) in another rivalry game for both teams. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

While Princeton was falling in Beckley, the Beavers lost 23-21 to Graham.

Peek, who replaced the retired Ted Spadaro in late July, yearns for the success Bluefield head coach Fred Simon has had for the 10-time state champion Beavers.

“Freddie does a great job with those kids over there,” Peek said. “He has won a few state titles and year in and year out they are very competitive and that is what we want do here, we want to build a program with some tradition.”

Winning games like this will help. Bluefield holds a 56-25-2 edge a series that has reached 84 meetings, although the Tigers are looking for consecutive victories, winning last year 23-7.

 “Physically they beat Bluefield pretty well up front and their linebackers played well, but those kids are gone,” said Peek, of last year’s game. “It is going to be a different ball game.”

Bluefield is similar to Woodrow Wilson in terms of speed. The Flying Eagles, which had two backs eclipse the century mark in yards, were able to get past the defensive line, forcing Princeton’s last line of defense to make plays.  

“I thought our corners and safety did a good job last week,” Peek said. “Of course they had to do a good job because Beckley was getting 10 or 15 yards a whack. Our defensive line has got to step up this week.”

Chief among the concerns for Princeton is Bluefield quarterback D.J. Edwards, who ran for 139 yards in the lost to Graham, along with former Princeton Middle School standout Montel Leggett, who was held to 54 yards, but has the wheels to go for much more.

 “They are fast, they run a lot of stuff that Woodrow ran,” Peek said. “(They have a) good quarterback, D.J. Edwards does a good job, and they have Montel, which Montel played over here and I know what he can do.

“We have got to keep Bluefield contained. If they get outside we don’t have but a couple of kids that could catch them.”

 Tackling was an issue for Princeton, and senior lineman Justice Shafer said the Tigers were subject to some ‘high intensity’ practices heading into this game. There were some personnel changes that Peek hopes ‘will show up this week.’

 It will start up front for the Tigers, led by Shafer, Christian Marshall, Derek Poszich and Darian Gray on the line, along with linebackers Brett Carroll, Corey Mann and Nick Wood.  

 “We have to play very well on the defensive side of the ball and special teams,” Peek said.  “Offensively we are not in bad shape, but defensively and special teams we have to do a good job and contain their speed.”

Princeton is led on offense by junior Tahj Sho-Johnson, who had 133 yards on 15 carries against the Flying Eagles. Those attempts need to increase against the Beavers.

 “We would like to get it to him even more than that,” Peek said. “I know everybody says it’s the Tahj show, but it takes a team and Tahj knows that and realizes it and our players know that.”

Sophomore Jay Palmer started his first game at quarterback, and showed potential, running for 50 yards and throwing for another 45.  

 “He didn’t do a bad job, he had the sophomore jitters and we expected that going into the game,” Peek said. “He has got to make the right reads, he didn’t do a very good job of making the reads…This is all new to him.”

What Peek wants to see as much as anything tonight is a change in attitude, with the players full energy and having a good team in the process.

“Keeping the kids up and keeping them in the game,” said Peek, of what the Princeton coaching staff must do. “In the past I have watched them and they wait for something bad to happen them.

 “We want to go out and make something good happen, and we have got to feed off that energy that when something good happens we have got to get emotional and play with emotion. It is supposed to be fun.

 “We saw bits and pieces of that (at Woodrow), but we want a lot more excitement and a lot of more energy brought to the game.”

 Peek had fun playing at Princeton from 1980-82, and was part of this series. He understands the passion that fans of the Tigers feel for this game. He’s excited to take part in this rivalry in his first season in charge.  

“I know all about it and I know some of the townspeople wouldn’t care if you only won one a year as long as you beat Bluefield, but we are just going to take it one game at a time,” he said. “It means a lot to me, but more importantly what it means to the kids.”

—Contact Brian Woodson

at bwoodson@bdtonline.com

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