Ryan Pearson brought the fear back into the Princeton Tiger football team by installing a Fear the Stripes decree.
But is has nothing to do with making the program fearful, as most would believe. It’s all about facing obstacles and adversity and rising above them.
“Fear the Stripes for us has nothing to do with being scared or intimidated. That’s not the premise. It’s more of an intrinsic thing for our kids,” Pearson said.
“Fear the stripes stands for Faith Everything And Rise. It’s something we talk about a lot in our program. Everyone is going to face adversity. The great players are going to be stronger, because of adversity. The weaker players are going to succumb because of that.”
“A lot of our kids possess that grit that we feel is necessary to have success, because everybody is going to get knocked down. It’s how those kids are going to be able to hop up again and keep moving forward.”
For leading the Tigers to their first semifinals appearance in 17 years, just the third time ever, and repeating as conference champions for the first time in program history, Pearson is the 2019 BCR Coach of the Year.
The Tigers finished the season 11-2, one loss coming at the hands of an eventual state champion (2A Newman), and the other to a state runner-up (3A Byron).
The players have bought into Pearson’s Fear the Stripes decree.
“He’s always keeping our heads straight,” quarterback Tyler Gibson said. “He always told us that discipline is the thing we wanted to strive for most, because it’s not like discipline isn’t the punishment for you. It’s the way you act, the way people see you if you are good person off the field and be a good teammate and leader on the field.
“I just love Coach Pearson. He’s had a great influence on us,” PHS junior lineman Grant Foes said. “He just helps us through everything and makes it easy for us to learn and do our jobs. He’s just a great coach, great guy. Wouldn’t want to play for anybody else.”
“He’s a great coach. He preaches hard work, preaches you’ve got to be better than you were the day before. Got to improve every day. Can’t take a step backwards. Got to take steps forward,” junior running back Ronde Worrels said.
The fact that the Tigers were so successful this season came as no surprise to them. They expected to be good, Pearson said.
“First and foremost, we wanted to win the conference. We accomplished that for the second year in a row,” he said. “The kids were hungry once we got to playoffs. They weren’t going to satisfied just getting there, they wanted to do some damage.
“When you throw psyche in there with high school kids, that goes a long way. It didn’t come out the way we wanted it to, but I tell you what, that was just a whale of a football game in that semifinal game. We played Byron as tough as anyone did all year.”
The Tigers have improved from 3-6 to 7-4 and 11-2, all under Pearson’s watch, and Worrels attributes their rise all to the coach.
“We’ve progressed. We’re not taking steps back. We’re always taking steps forward, and he started that here,” Worrels said.