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Joe Percival off to good start at Princeton

St. Anthony's defensive end Joe Percival takes his

St. Anthony's defensive end Joe Percival takes his stance during Long Island's practice for the 19th annual Empire Challenge high school football all-star game. Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

Joe Percival, the inaugural winner of the Marcus A. Henry Award last year, made a good first impression on the Princeton football coaching staff last September, being one of the few freshmen to make the travel squad for the Tigers' season-opening loss at San Diego.

Now the former St. Anthony's football and track star from Melville is hoping to not only travel regularly but earn more playing time at outside linebacker. He is part of a group of reserve linebackers that coach Bob Surace called "so athletic, with a level of attitude and work ethic to play at this level."

Surace said after spring practice that Percival could push for a starting job in the Tigers' 4-3 alignment if he continues to improve, especially given that he is one of the fastest players on the roster.

Percival totaled 12 tackles in his first season for Princeton, which finished 5-5 overall and 4-3 in Ivy League play, and is optimistic the Tigers can challenge for the Ivy title it won in 2013.

Percival, 6-1, 215, had four tackles for losses, including his first collegiate sack in a victory over Columbia, a game in which he also registered another tackle for a loss.

He added a half-sack in a loss to Harvard, had a season-best three tackles in the Tigers' season-ending loss to Dartmouth and contributed two tackles and two quarterback hurries in a home victory over Brown.

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