Homecoming isn’t just a football game; it is a week of activities celebrating the return of PHS students for the new academic year.
This year, homecoming kicked off with student volunteers decorating the hallways with their respective class colors, followed by Spirit Week, which culminated with the pep rally, Princeton Paws Picnic, and an under-the-lights football game. This year the PTO took a step back in planning the activities, handing over responsibility to the student council.
“The student council chose the themes for spirit week, and they decided that they wanted to do these activities. We tried to gauge the activities students wanted to do, which is an advantage of having more student participation in planning,” said Junior Class President Margaret Evered ’18.
Before the evening’s bout, PHS celebrated with a pep rally in the New Gym. It was organized with the help of the PHS Booster Club, a group that supports the Little Tigers football team and the cheerleading squad. Fall athletic teams were each introduced by their respective coaches and given a round of applause by the audience. The cheerleaders welcomed students into the ceremony, which featured a live DJ, class competitions, and a showcase of their competition routine.
“Except for cheering at football games, we only really do Homecoming and our competitions, which is a great way for everybody to see us and see what we actually do besides just cheering on the boys,” said Cheerleading Co-Captain Emily Kleinbart ’17.
Student Council also introduced the Princeton Paws Picnic in place of the traditional Saturday-night dance. Last year’s low turnout led to the development of the new event, which included a DJ, carnival-style entertainment, free food, and half-time float decorating.
The Homecoming game was one of the biggest games of the year for the Little Tigers. The Tigers’ Co-Captain and offensive lineman Ethan Guerra ’17 felt that increased attendance at the game would lend itself to a better atmosphere, helping team performance. But he added that despite the magnitude of the match, the team would take things in stride.
“Feel good, play good. It’s a lot bigger of a game, a lot more excitement, and a lot more fun. The team prepares the same: We scout the other team, we size them up, and take things week by week,” Guerra said.
The full-moon and rented field lights illuminated the turf as the Princeton Little Tigers and West Windsor-Plainsboro South Pirates met on the field. Food trucks from Tico’s Juice Bar, Nina’s Waffles, Jammin’ Crepes, and House of Cupcakes served refreshments outside the track, and the pep-band and cheerleaders electrified the crowd.
It was a rocky start as WW-PS scored an early touchdown to put themselves in a 7–0 lead within the first three minutes. The score remained unchanged for the rest of the quarter. In the second quarter, the Little Tigers responded with an 18-yard touchdown by running back Carson Giles ’19, narrowing the the lead to 7–6. The Pirates quickly extended their lead to 14–6 with another touchdown, but once again Princeton reduced the lead with a touchdown pass from quarterback Vince Doran ’18. Halftime processions began with the Tigers down 14–12.
The cheerleaders performed their competition routine again during halftime and were followed by the unveiling of the floats. Student council members of each grade greeted the crowd on their respective float, designed according to their class color. The seniors won hallway and float decorations, using an orange Eye of the Tiger motif complete with bright headlights.
The Pirates came out of halftime with 28 points. In the third quarter, the Little Tigers’ progress was halted when the Pirates scored two touchdowns, widening the lead to 28–12. The Pirates continued their momentum with another two touchdowns in the fourth. Doran threw a pass to Isaac Webb ’19 at the end zone during the end of the fourth quarter, but the Little Tigers ultimately fell 42–18.
“You learn more from losing than winning. The other team was able to take advantage of our downfalls, but [we will] look at our weakness and be better next time,” Guerra said.