As a new season kicks off this weekend for the Tigers, last year’s successes are in the rearview mirror.
The Tigers play their first game of the new season this Saturday, Sept. 17, at Stetson University (0–0 Pioneer League, 2–0 overall), coming off an Ivy-League-best 9–1 record in 2021. The fall of 2022 included electric wins over longtime rivals Harvard and Yale that led to a massive bonfire on Cannon Green.
“We don’t start at 9–1 or where the previous season left off, we start with the same record as our competition,” Head Coach Surace ‘90 told The Daily Princetonian.
In preparation for this year, the Tigers named seven new senior team captains: tight end Carson Bobo, offensive lineman Henry Byrd, wide receivers Dylan Classi and Andrei Iosivas, linebacker Matthew Jester, defensive lineman Uche Ndukwe, and defensive back Michael Ruttlen Jr. According to Surace, having seven captains displays an unusual depth of talent on the team this year.
Bobo and Byrd earned first team All-Ivy League selections last year, with Iosivas and Ndukwe named to the second team. Classi was also named an Honorable Mention All-Ivy honoree. Iosivas, known for his dominance both as a wide receiver and a decathlon athlete on the track and field team, has even been put on the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl Watchlist, along with other seniors across the country who have NFL draft potential.
“Being captain for this team means the world to me and I’m extremely honored to be chosen by the guys to help lead our team as we go through the season,” Bobo told the ‘Prince. With the support of their teammates, Bobo and the other captains are prepared to lead their team into the season.
“I look forward to playing alongside this special group of guys and helping this team in anyway I can,” Classi wrote.
The seven captains were chosen by their own teammates for both their talent and their ability to lead. “It’s the highest honor I could ask for — being chosen as a leader by your friends, your family, is something you [can’t] describe,” Iosivas commented. “I have so much gratitude for the position I’m in, and I’m thankful to my teammates for trusting me and the others to lead them this year.”
In a preseason poll, Princeton was ranked third in the Ivy League — placing only three points behind Harvard and Dartmouth — and is not expected to take home the Ivy League championship. With the talent of these senior captains and their devoted teammates and coaching staff, however, the Tigers have the potential for another historic season.
“My mindset has been consistent through the past 13 years: work our hardest to prepare our team exceptionally well, and then see if our team can be its best version every week,” Surace said.
After a focused training camp, Princeton football fans look forward to finally seeing the Tigers take the field again this season with a game one matchup against the Stetson Hatters this weekend.
“This year, we have a locker room full of incredibly hard workers who bring the same level of focus and love for the game to each and every practice as they do on game day,” Jester told the ‘Prince’. “We are excited to open up in Florida against Stetson, and can't wait for the season ahead!”
Eric Fenno is a contributing writer for the Sports and Prospect sections at the ‘Prince.’ He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.