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Fast-starting Princeton, Capital meet at Laidley

By | Gazette-Mail High School Huddle
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Kenny Kemp
Capital's Tyrell Davis (2) and Tyrhee Pratt (1) listen to instructions from coach Jon Carpenter.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Entering a game in which both teams average more than 50 points and each team can flash a lot of speed, it seems funny to hear about ball control.

But hogging the ball will be a big part of the strategy tonight when Princeton (2-0) and Capital (1-0) tangle at Laidley Field in an early-season match of Mountain State Athletic Conference contenders. Kickoff is set for 7:30.

Princeton, which has knocked off Shady Spring 69-0 and neighboring rival Bluefield 32-29, would like to extend its possessions to keep Capital's bevy of ultra-fast playmakers on the sideline.

"They are loaded,'' Tigers coach Randy Peek said of the Cougars. "Even their backups have good speed. We'll just do the best with can with our new offense - the flexbone, which is more of a ball-control offense, and try to grind it out. We're hoping our best defense is our offense. Our time of possession against Bluefield was three-to-one.''

Key to Princeton's ploys on offense is fleet senior running back Tahj Sho-Johnson, who has shown both sides of his ability this season. In the opener against Shady, he carried just six times for 209 yards and three touchdowns. Against Bluefield, however, he lugged the ball 29 times for 188 yards and two scores as the Tigers kept the ball for long stretches.

"It's just the kind of offense they run,'' said Capital coach Jon Carpenter. "You have to stick to your assignments. That worries you when you've only got two days, really, to get them all coached up. I guess what bothers you is assignment football: For us, we have wild guys who go 100 miles an hour. Now we need them to go about 95 in the right direction.''

Other weapons for the Tigers are dual-threat quarterback Jay Palmer (112 yards, two TDs rushing; 7 of 11 passing, 134 yards, three TDs) and 6-foot-5, 210-pound receiver Zen Clements (three catches, 86 yards, two scores).

The Cougars' attack is based on speed, speed and more speed, directed by sophomore quarterback Tyrhee Pratt, who threw for 115 yards and two TDs in the opener, a 68-7 conquest of Riverside.

Kashuan Haley, who had TD runs of 44 and 69 yards last week and returned a punt 69 yards for another score, splits time between running back and receiver, as does Tyrell Davis, who had two TD runs against Riverside and occasionally takes snaps as a Wildcat formation QB. Silas Nazario added a touchdown run and a 52-yard TD catch in the opener.

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