Goodbye Tigers. Hello Bison.
Traditionally, the Cornell football team opens every season by tussling with Ivy League foe Princeton. In fact, for the last 10 years, the two schools have made a habit of kick-starting the conference schedule during the first week of the season.
However, tomorrow when the curtain rises on the Red’s 2000 season, the Tigers will have been replaced by the Bison of Bucknell.
“I think it’s going to be interesting to see how the Ivy League does this weekend,” said head coach Pete Mangurian, alluding to the fact that seven of the eight Ivy clubs will begin their seasons this weekend against non-conference opponents.
When the Red last took on Bucknell in 1998 — Mangurian’s first year on the East Hill — it fought off the Bison, 23-19.
Though the Red has yet to see any action, Bucknell began its year two weeks ago with a 10-7 loss to Richmond.
The Bison utilized a two-headed quarterback attack, to little success though. Todd Wenrich went 6-of-18 for 58 yards, while Lucas threw for 38 yards on 7-of-17. LaMario Bradwell paced the Bison’s lackadasical rushing effort with only 25 yards.
The defeat was Bucknell’s first opening-day loss in six years.
Despite Bucknell’s initial stumble, Mangurian nonentheless expects a strong showing from the Bison.
“They’re a good football team,” he affirmed. “And they’re going to come after us with all they’ve got.”
“Expect them to come out and run at us,” said senior co-captain and middle linebacker Dan Weyandt.
Along with the superstar duo of junior quarterback Ricky Rahne and senior co-captain wideout Joe Splendorio, the Red will takes its chances with junior tailback Evan Simmons in an effort to open up its rushing game.
Simmons, who was holed up on special teams last season, has come out like gangbusters this year, having shown his ability with a 60-yard run in Cornell’s first intra-squad scrimmage.
But Mangurian won’t exactly push aside the passing game, especially when he has at his disposal the All-Ivy Rahne and Splendorio, both of whom shattered school records in 1999.
“If we have to throw the ball to win, then we’ll throw the ball to win,” Mangurian noted.
Leading the defensive charge for the Red will be Weyandt, who ranked third on the team last year with 89 tackles.
Making his return to the defense this season will be senior free safety Phil Rigueur, who missed 1999 due to personal reasons.
“Everybody’s ready to go. We’re tired of playing each other,” Weyandt said. “We’re all on edge right now.”
“Hopefully, we won’t make any mistakes early [tomorrow],” he added.
On the horizon is the first Ivy League contest next Saturday against Yale, a game that could go a long way towards deciding the next conference champion. Both because of its ramifications and because next week is Homecoming Day on the East Hill, the match-up should provide an interesting spectacle.
But the Red hasn’t yet begun shifting its mind towards Yale.
“You need to win the first one,” Magurian commented, adding, “Yale’s going to be a big game, but it’s going to be even bigger if we beat Bucknell.”
Archived article by Shiva Nagaraj