The end of a 12-year losing streak was in their hands — but what had all the appearance of a game-winning fumble recovery for the sprint football team was overturned in last Friday’s overtime loss against Post. While devastating for the entire team, the loss struck the seniors the hardest.
“It goes without saying that any loss is rough,” senior wide receiver and defensive back Kees Thompson said. “However, dropping the game in overtime like that hurts in a whole different way.”
But not even losing their closest game in over a decade is deterring the Tigers from seeking their first win, as Princeton hosts Franklin Pierce (0-2) tonight at Princeton Stadium. Senior tight end and captain John Wolfe eagerly looks forward to the matchup. Wolfe is also a sports writer for The Daily Princetonian.
“Last Friday, the reward for so many years of agony had finally come — and then instantly was gone again,” Wolfe said. “We’re trying to reclaim that
feeling for good this time.”
Franklin Pierce enters tonight winless but is making an impressive statement in the inaugural season of its sprint football program. The Ravens have shown their ability to roll with Ivy League opponents, as the team’s losses to Cornell and Penn were both decided by five or fewer points. Princeton’s defense will have to zone in on Franklin Pierce quarterback Tyler Mathews, who has thrown for three touchdowns and 428 yards of total passing in his first two games.
But tonight is more than just a chance to bounce back from last week’s heartbreaker. The Tigers’ meeting against the Ravens marks Princeton’s final home game of the season and, for the seniors, the last game of their careers at Princeton Stadium.
“I can’t express how much this game means for me personally and for the entire team,” Thompson said. “For the seniors, this season is the culmination of so much physical, mental and emotional exertion. We have watched three classes of seniors graduate winless after being certain they would break the streak. Watching those seniors, our leaders and mentors, walking off the field in the stadium after their last home loss was heartbreaking.”
The team’s underclassmen do not wish to live through Thompson’s experience when tonight’s game draws to a close. The example Wolfe, Thompson and the rest of the senior class have set will draw all of the energy out of each freshman, sophomore and junior, including freshman quarterback Joe Bush.
“The seniors have definitely kept me and the rest of the team focused on getting better every day,” Bush said. “As a whole, their commitment has made all the difference to me this season. I can’t think of a better way to reward them than by getting them a win.”
Princeton will look to Wolfe and Thompson for support on both sides of the ball, along with senior quarterback Jaison Zachariah. The Tigers expect a big night from senior running back and linebacker Sean Conrad, the team’s rushing leader, as well as senior defensive back and wide receiver Chris Cadman, the team leader in receiving yards and tackles. With all the potential that tonight’s game has to end a historic losing streak, the team is more than ready to rise to the occasion.
“There is so much energy and heart riding into this game,” Thompson said. “The stakes are high, but we’re so excited — and we’re confident.”
“We don’t want to wait around for an away game to achieve our goal,” Wolfe said. “Our predecessors, our class and our fans have waited through some painful years for Princeton sprint football’s drought to end. They deserve to witness school history in their own stadium this Friday night.”
The Tigers take on Franklin Pierce tonight at 7 p.m. at
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/12/31490/