Coach: Chris Pedigo
2020 Record: 7-3
Postseason: second round Class AAA playoffs (def. Wheeling Park via Covid forfeit; lost to South Charleston 57-18)
Offensive starters returning: 8 (LT Tyler Dye, LG Eli Campbell, C Logan Johnson, RG Blake Helphenstine, RT Mason Brookman, QB Grant Cochran, Y Khamrin Profitt, F/Slot Carter Meachum.
Defensive starters returning: 7 (NT Matt Lewis, DT Eli Campbell, DE Khamrin Profitt, ILB Reece Burton, ILB Brodee Rice, S Peyton Clemons, S Ta’Vajay Smith.
Review: After a strange Covid scheduling quirk that included two games in the opening three against Mercer rival and perennial AA power Bluefield (games Princeton lost 15-13 and 54-40 in polar opposite games around a 34-14 win against Parkersburg South) the Tigers went on a roll.
The Tigers ripped off six straight wins (the final being a Covid forfeiture vs. Wheeling Park in the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. Along the way the Patriots beating two Class AAA playoff qualifiers (GW and John Marshall by a combined 44.5-16.5) in the first four games of the streak the Tigers rolled up 59 points per game.
The Tigers ran out of good fortune against South Charleston, the eventual state champion who never played another game in playoffs and won the title because of Covid forfeitures. In fact, the Princeton game was the only playoff game for South Charleston. There were just four Class AAA playoff games (there are 15 games in each class) played last fall, Princeton-South Charleston the only quarterfinal, making it, ostensibly, the de facto state championship game.
Offensive numbers: rush 143,3 ypg, pass 357.8 ypg, 401.1 ypg, 40.2 ppg
Defensive ppg: 27.2
Preview: The Tigers lose a lot of offense in Moss Award winner (state’s top receiver Ethan Parsons. going to Marshall) and second-leading receiver Josiah Honaker (Morgan State) as well as 1,000-yard rusher Amir Powell (WV State) from a record-setting season. That’s nearly 2,700 yards of offense and 40 touchdowns.
But the cupboard is certainly not bare with the return of rising junior quarterback Grant Cochran, who, during his first tow seasons, has broken the school passing mark both seasons and has already established several game marks. With 4,344 career yards and 43 touchdown passes in 18 career games, he probably also has the career mark in those categories.
The line also came to the fore in 2020 and with an offseason spent in the weight room it is expected to be even better. Princeton rushed for almost 1,300 yards after putting up just 838 the year before. More importantly the Tigers rushed for 21 TD after having just eight in 2019. All five linemen return, and a great line can make an average back look great and and and average line can make a great back look average. The Tigers have an outstanding line. How the line goes will be a major key how far the Tigers go.
Sophomore J.J. Springs, junior Brodee Rice and seniors Ta’Vajay Smith and Noah Basham are candidates to replace Amir Powell in the backfield, showing just how valuable and irreplaceable Powell was to the Tigers fortunes.
Yet because of strengths in those previous positions, Princeton is more likely a receiver who can take the top off a defense from being a player in Class AAA. Jon Wellman will be the first one given the shot at being that player, with workloads increasing for returnees like Peyton Clemosn, Carter Meachum and Connor Padgett.
Players to watch: Pedigo said Khamrin Profitt has all-state ability at the H-back, tight end, running back position because of his jack-of-all-trades resume. From catching the ball, running the ball and even blocking he does it all for the Tigers. Cochran’s continuing growth at quarterback if that player who can stretch the field is identified. Also the Tigers two inside linebackers, Reece Burton (11.3) and Brodee Rice (7.4) are top notch defenders and return after leading the team in tackles last season..
Players who will surprise: If only because they a position of need due to graduation, receivers. Given the Tigers lost 81 receptions,1,664 yards and 23 TD receptions in two players, who will stand up?. The receiver Princeton needs to emerge might be 6-foot-4 Jon Wellman. Pedigo said he still has a lot to learn at the receiver position, and replacing a player like Parsons and Honaker won’t be easy but he is going to get the opportunity. Peyton Clemons (2-44) is another player who will see his workload increase as will Carter Meachum’s (17-242-2) slot role and Connor Padgett (8-59) will be a possession type receiver.
Rush: Amir Powell 139 carries, 1090 yards 17 TD. Pass: Grant Cochran 129 comp 231 att 8 int 2,313 yards, 27 TD Receive: Ethan Parsons 48 rec 862 yards, 12 TD.
9-4 Bluefield 13-15 L
9-18 Parkersburg South 34-14 W
9-25 Bluefield 40-54 L
10-2 at PikeView 58-14 W
10-9 at John Marshall 68-33 W
10-23 Lincoln 54-14 W
10-30 Greenbrier East 56-14 W
11-6 George Washington 21-0 W
11-15 at Wheeling Park forfeit W
11-20 at South Charleston 18-57 L
8-27 at Lincoln
9-10 Oak Hill
9-24 Lord Boutetourt, Va.
Oct. 1 at Woodrow Wilson
10-15 at Hedgesville
Oct. 29 at Greenbrier East
Nov. 5 at Parkersburg South
Coaches Quote: “We are excited to get on the field this summer and continue what we have been doing since February. This is by far the strongest team we have had and we will hang our hat on how we work in the weight room. Our guys are ready to get out and continue to build on what we want our program to look like. We are excited about this bunch. —
Princeton coach Chris Pedigo