Friday Night Drive

Gridiron memories: From Alleman to Rochester to PBL, Princeton has history of big moments in state quarterfinal play

The brain thrusts behind the success of the 1989 Princeton Tigers "Runnin' Wild" were coaches Steve Kiser (from left), the late head coach Randy Swinford and Brian Church.

Princeton will play its sixth quarterfinal contest Saturday. Here’s a look back at the Tigers’ first five quarterfinal games.

1989: Princeton 27, Alleman 14 - The Tigers rocked Alleman at Bryant Field, avenging a first-round loss the year before. Tiger Style was Runnin’ Wild as Chad Hamel had a 49-yard TD catch from Doug Bruyn and returned a 51-yard “scoop and score” on a fumble caused by teammate Jay Alter.

Schickel, who scored two rushing touchdowns, summed it up best saying, “It used to be, ‘Oh My God it’s Alleman. Now it’s, ‘Oh my God it’s Princeton.”

Successfully avenging the 1988 defeat, PHS senior lineman Bill Kissick said, “Now they know how we felt last year.”

“I guess you could say we introduced the Western Big Six to Tiger Style Football,” PHS senior Darryn Foley said.

“We believed we could beat them last year for about 36 minutes. This year we believed it for 48,” Tiger coach Randy Swinford said.

Tiger Style was Runnin' Wild in 1989, all the way to the state championship game.

2002: Princeton 48, Rochester 21 - The Rockets scored first, but the Tigers scored 35 unanswered points to put this one away early with a 35-7 halftime lead in front of a crowd of 1,900 at Bryant Field. Caleb Baker had three TDs rushing and another TD receiving. Braden Norman added two TDs. PHS would fall to eventual 3A state champ Addison Driscoll 23-3 in the semifinals and not win another playoff win for 13 years. Seven years later, Rochester would start a streak of five straight state titles and eight in a 10-year stretch.

2015: IC Catholic 37, Princeton 12 - The visiting Knights led 21-12 at halftime and shut out the Tigers (16-0) in the second half. It was the first loss of the year for the Tigers, who went 11-0 for the first time in school history.

2019: Princeton 38, Paxton-Buckley-Loda 12 - While the Tigers offense shined behind Ronde Worrels (2 TDs rushing) and Tyler Gibson/Branden Haring (2 TD passes), the Princeton “D” held PBL to minus-5 yards rushing. Max Taylor also added a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown, but later was carted off with a neck injury. The Tigers lost in the semifinals the next week at home to Byron, 7-3, one stop to making it back to state for the first time in 30 years.

2021: IC Catholic 31, Princeton 7 - An instant replay of 2015 only this time in Elmhurst. The Tigers, who averaged 43.4 points a game, were limited to only one touchdown on an 8-yard run by Augie Christiansen with 3:27 left in the game. The Tigers (10-2) had just 78 second-half yards before their 10-play scoring drive.

Kevin Hieronymus has been the BCR Sports Editor since 1986. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com