Defending Princeton Football champions prepare for week one

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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, September 17 at Stetson University (0-0 Pioneer League, 2-0 on aggregate), with a 9-1 Ivy-League record in 2021. of 2022 included electric victories over longtime rivals Harvard and Yale that led to a huge bonfire on Cannon Green.

“We’re not starting at 9-1 or where the previous season left off, we’re starting 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 line Uche Ndukwe and defensive back Michael Ruttlen Jr. According to Surace, having seven captains displays an unusual depth of talent in the team this year.

Bobo and Byrd earned All-Ivy League first-team selections last year, with Iosivas and Ndukwe named to the second team. Classi was also named an All-Ivy honorable mention winner. Iosivas, known for his dominance as both a wide receiver and a decathlon athlete on the track team, was even made the 2023 Reese’s Senior Bowl watch list, along with other seniors across the country. who have NFL Draft potential.

“Captaining this team means the world to me and I’m extremely honored to have been chosen by the guys to help lead our team through the season,” Bobo told the ‘Prince. With the support of their teammates, Bobo and the other captains are ready to lead their team through the season.

“I look forward to playing alongside this special group of guys and helping this team in any way I can,” Classi wrote.

The seven captains were chosen by their own teammates for their talent and ability to lead. “It’s the greatest honor I could ask for – to be chosen as a leader by your friends, your family, it’s something you [can’t] describe,” commented Iosivas. “I’m so grateful for the position I’m in, and I’m grateful to my teammates for trusting me and others to lead them this year.”

In a preseason poll, Princeton was ranked third in the Ivy League – placing just three points behind Harvard and Dartmouth – and is unlikely to win the Ivy League championship. With the talent of these senior captains and their dedicated teammates and coaches, however, the Tigers have the potential for another historic season.

“My mindset has remained constant over the past 13 years: work our best to prepare our team exceptionally well, then see if our team can be their best version every week,” Surace said.

After a focused training camp, Princeton football fans can’t wait to see the Tigers finally get back on the pitch this season with their opener 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 every practice that they do on game day,” Jester told The Prince. “We’re thrilled to open in Florida against Stetson, and we’re looking forward to the season ahead!”

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Eric Fenno is a contributing writer for the Sports and Perspectives sections of The Prince. He can be reached at [email protected].

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