For the Princeton Tigers the playoffs began last week against Riverside. The Tigers won that game and are now 4-4 on the season. However, the team remains in a must-win situation as the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles land at Hunnicutt Stadium for a Mountain State Athletic Conference contest tonight.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Both teams have playoff aspirations, but neither squad will have those dreams should they fall.
“We said last week that was our first playoff game, this is our second playoff game. We’ve got to win out,” said Tigers head coach Randy Peek.
Princeton and Woodrow Wilson have been meeting on the gridiron for more than eight decades and at times has been intense and that intensity will be present when the teams kick it off tonight.
“I think it will be so, especially with all that’s on the line,” Peek said. “Mathematically we can still get in if we can win these next two and I think the feel the same way.”
The Tigers have won two in a row after losing four straight. Prior to the skid Princeton won its two opening games.
In last week’s game against Riverside quarterback Jay Palmer ran for 253 yards, three touchdowns and had an interception on defense as he commanded the Tigers’ flexbone offense.
“We’re now getting to the edge and Jay is making good reads,” Peek said. “Against St. Albans we ran the triple option to the left, he pitched it and we scored on the very first play. Against Riverside we ran the triple option to the left, he kept it and we scored on the very first play.
“Now we’re getting to the edge and that’s going to open up Tahj (Sho-Johnson) and Devin (Allen) in the middle. Now that everybody is thinking pitch, the dive is going to come back we hope.”
Peek said the big weapon for Woodrow Wilson is running back Chase Hancock.
“He’s a good running back. He runs hard. They mix him up as a receiver and he’s probably their leading rusher and receiver,” Peek pointed out. “They put him all over the field. We’ve got to know where he’s at all the time.”
On defense Princeton expects the Flying Eagles to come at them with either a 6-2 or a 4-4 alignment.
“With the flexbone you’re going to see a different defense every week,” Peek said. “We’ve seen every defense that’s known to man and people try to look at other teams that have had success stopping us and try to imitate that. They’ve got to take away the dive, the quarterback, or the pitch and something’s got to be open there.”
Looking back at the Riverside game, Peek gave praise to Princeton’s offensive line and receivers.
“Our linemen and split ends, they blocked so well last week,” Peek said. “We owe a lot to our linemen because we had 597 yards rushing. That’s not heart of very often and Jay had three long runs. We’ve got to give credit to our line and our receivers for the blocks they put on.”
This will be the final home contest for Princeton and the Tigers will celebrate Senior Night, honoring 17 players before the game.
“This is a great group,” Peek said. “I’ve had them since they were in the seventh grade. I’ve got twin boys, they’re seniors also and they grew up with these kids, so it’s special to me.”