PRINCETON — Princeton Youth Football had a big day in the Big 14 Conference junior football championships Saturday at Bryant Field in Princeton.
Both the Princeton sixth-grade and eighth-grade Tigers captured Big 14 championships. The sixth-grade team defeated Byron 12-6 in overtime and the eighth-grade team topped Rochelle 26-22.
“My kids have worked extremely hard the last four years. I’m happy for them to have an opportunity to win the championship,” Princeton eighth-grade coach Spencer Davis said. “The conference that we play in, is great. To hold a championship among a lot of people like that is pretty awesome. I’m excited for the kids. I think they work hard as coaches, I think that’s what you want to teach kids if you work hard, good things can happen for you
The eighth-grade Tigers were the first to take the Bryant Field turf. Quarterback Drake Davis hooked up with Bryan Herr for a touchdown pass to give the Tigers a 20-16 lead in the fourth quarter. Rochelle answered right back for a score of their own to take a 22-20 lead.
However, before their fans settled back into their seats, Herr took the kickoff return 78 yards to the house to promptly put the Tigers back in the lead. It was his third touchdown of the game.
“Bryan’s a phenomenal athlete. At anytime, he can go. He does a lot of good things and we have a real nice line. Everyone blocked the play real well,” Spencer Davis said.
The Tigers defense shut the door on the Hubs, preserving the 26-22 Tiger victory and capping an 8-0 season. Davis praised his team’s defense as the key to the win.
“All day long we battled. They’re a real good team and physical. We got into a physical battle. I thought our defense actually stepped up,” he said. “Normally our offense scores a lot of points but this week our defense did a good job of being physical.”
Drake Davis threw for two touchdowns and ran for another.
The sixth-grade game was even more exciting. Princeton made a goal line stand at the end of regulation to preserve a 6-6 tie. In overtime, each team was awarded the ball on the 10-yard line with one set of downs to score. Princeton defense stepped up once again, stopping Byron short of the end zone.
Princeton got its crack on offense and cashed in with a winning touchdown pass from Cole Adams to Brayden Debates for the game-winner.
Wyatt Davis got Princeton on the board with a touchdown run.
With the win, Princeton not only finished the season at 8-0, but avenged a championship game loss to Byron at the fifth-grade level.
As the eighth-grade regular season champion, Princeton was awarded as the host for all four grade championships. All the four championship games were decided by seven points or less. In the other contests. Dixon beat Rochelle 48-42 in the fifth-grade game while Dixon downed Rochelle 14-6 in the seventh-grade game.
• Tiger tales: When the Princeton eighth-grade squad was presented its trophy from the Conference president, they were asked for someone to accept it. To a man, the Tigers shouted, Connor Alter. He has been unable to play this year because of his foot injury, but clearly remains a big part of the team.