August 05, 2021

A first for Princeton

Tigers’ 6-0 finish is first undefeated season in school history

Princeton High School football dates to the 1880s. No PHS team, in the past 100 years, from 1920 to 2019, ever finished undefeated. Records before 1920 are unavailable.

Then along came the 2021 Spring Tigers.

They ran the table, winning all six games scheduled.

Could they have finished 14-0 and won the state championship in a normal season? Absolutely. They certainly had the talent to hoist the championship trophy, but we will never know.

Their undefeated record in a six-week season is a lot like big leaguer Madison Bumgartner’s seven-inning no-hitter last week. MLB said it does not count as an official no-hitter because it came in a seven-inning game as part of a doubleheader and was not a nine-inning regulation game.

So does the Tigers’ 6-0 record count as an undefeated season? You bet it does. They won all six games that were thrown their way. It’s not their fault they didn’t have a full season.

Let’s take a closer look how big this accomplishment was for the PHS program.

There have been only three previous Princeton teams to win their first six games. Only one won its seventh.

The first was Lou Flinn’s Tigers in 1969. They won their first six games before falling in Week 7 to Geneseo, 46-0, and again in Week 8 to Morris, 38-14, and went on to finish 7-2.

Randy Swinford’s 1989 Tigers “ran wild” to a 6-0 start, falling in Week 7 to NCIC rival Rochelle, 26-14. The Tigers advanced all the way to the Class 3A state finals, losing to Belleville Althoff, 38-7.

Most recently, Jesse Snyder’s 2015 Tigers became the first PHS team to finish the regular season undefeated at 9-0. They won their first two playoff games to move to 11-0 before losing to Elmhurst Immaculate Conception, 37-12, in the 3A quarterfinals.

Princeton’s all-time top 10 records (win percentage)

• 2021 spring - 6-0 (1.000)

• 2016 - 11-1 (.917)

• 1979 - 8-1 (.889)

• 1933 - 7-1 (.875)

• 1929 - 7-1-1 (.875)

• 1954 - 7-1-1 (.875)

• 1948 - 7-1-2 (.875)

• 1989 - 12-2 (.857)

• 1942 - 6-1-1 (.857)

• 2019 - 11-2 (.846)

• 2002 - 11-2 (.846)

Kevin Hieronymus

Kevin has been sports editor of the BCR since 1986 and previously was sports editor of the St. Louis Daily News, Tazewell News and ISU Daily Vidette. He is a 2021 inductee into the IBCA Hall of Fame as a media member and was awarded as 2021 IPA Best Sports Section and Best Sports Column