September 15, 2000

Look for a Shared Conference Title

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Expectations are high for the Red, and deservedly so. But will this really be the year for Cornell to finally win its first outright Ivy title in football? After much shuffling of tarot cards, our Sports Editor has learned what the future holds for the teams of the Ancient Eight. And if this order should not prevail at the end of the year, our Sports Editor will have to make phone calls to Latoya Jackson and Dion Warwick before writing another league preview.

So without further adieu, the final standings of the 2000 football campaign will be:

1. Cornell:

1999 Record: 7-3, 5-2 Ivy

I wish somebody would put out a 12-page pullout on this team so I can be an educated fan.

1. Yale:

1999 Record: 9-1, (6-1 Ivy)

Returning lettermen: 43

The Good: Yale is a physical team which can pound the ball for yards. Rashad Bartholomew is the key to this, and at 6-0, 215-pounds he can punish defenders. However, his supposed sub-4.50 40-yard dash time proves he is capable of the big play. Indeed, he needs only 1,164 yards to break the all-time school record.

Eric Johnson earned second-team All-Ivy last year as a receiver and as a punter. He was the MVP of the defending Ivy Champions offense last year, and hauled in a league record 21 receptions against Harvard.

On the defensive side of the ball, it starts with the captain Peter Mazza. Second-team All-Ivy a year ago, he had 66 tackles without playing in the final game of the year against Harvard.

Peter Maloney is a leader on the defensive line who had 43 tackles and four sacks in the ’99 season. Throw in Mike Reeves, who started nine games last year, and the Bulldogs return a solid front.

In the secondary, first-team All-Ivy picks Than Merrill and Todd Tomich give Yale a legitimate claim to the best defensive backs in the league. Merrill had four interceptions and 77 tackles last year, while Tomich lead the league with six picks.

And just to top it off, Mike Murawczyk returns as the first-team All-Ivy kicker, who has not missed a field goal inside of 40 yards in two seasons.

The Bad: The Bulldogs must find a replacement for Joe Walland, second-team All-Ivy quarterback last year. T.J. Hyland is seemingly the heir apparent to the position. He did make one start last year when Walland was injured, leading Yale over San Diego. Other than that, the team is pretty solid.

The Ugly: You must have this team confused with Columbia.

3. Pennsylvania

1999 Record: 5-5 (4-3 Ivy)

Returning lettermen: 37

The Good: Gavin Hoffman, the second-best returning quarterback in the league, comes back to a highly skilled offense. In 1999 Hoffman set the Quakers’ single season passing record with 2,322 yards. He also has three of the top four single-game records in Penn history, including the 399 yard performance against Columbia.

Kris Ryan returns to lead the Quakers on the ground. Last year he became the sixth running back in Penn history to rush for 1,000 yards, finishing the season with 1,197. He was 18th in the nation at 119.7 yards per game, scored 10 rushing TDs and averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry en route to being unanimously named to the first-team All-Ivy. And at 6-0, 240-pounds, he is a load to bring down.

Rob Milanese, Doug O’Neill and Colin Smith will anchor the receiving corps. Milanese averaged 17.1 yards per catch last year, and crossed the goal line four times. O’Neill was out last year with an injury, but had 506 yards and three TDs in 1998, while Smith made 31 catches a season ago.

The Galan brothers, Ed and John, anchor the d-line, while senior Dan Morris leads the linebackers. Morris had 59 tackles last year, while the Galans are key to plugging up the middle.

The Bad: First-team All-Ivy d-lineman Mike Germino, and unanimous first team All-Ivy linebacker Jim Hisgen are gone. Throw in the graduations of Anthony DeSalle (first-team All-Ivy), Jason Maehr (second-team All-Ivy) and Adrian Puzio (honorable mention All-Ivy), and there are some serious holes to be filled in the defense.

The Ugly: The projected top four cornerbacks for Penn are all 5-10. In a league with many receivers well over six-feet tall, this could be exploited, especially at the end of a half or game.

4. Brown:

1999 Record: 9-1, 6-1 Ivy

Returning lettermen: 41

The Good: Stephen Campbell will lead the Brown offense from the receiver spot this year. At 6-3, he makes a big target, and always finds a way to get open. He is a Walter Payton Award Candidate, was unanimous first-team All-Ivy last year, and averaged 110.7 yards per game with 11 TDs a year ago.

Michael Malan could also be a huge factor for the Bears this season. At 5-11, 230-pounds, Malan proved to more than most teams could handle last year as he rumbled his way onto the second-team All-Ivy list. One of the best examples of this came against Cornell, where he had 138 yards on 21 carries, and did not play in the second half due to cramps.

Last year’s Ivy Rookie of the Year, Chas Gessner, should be another target for the new Brown quarterback.

On the defensive side of the ball, Gordon Chen and Neil Finneran, two of the team’s captains, should give Brown stability on the defensive line. Jamaine Aggrey will return to anchor the linebackers.

The Bad: Who is going to play quarterback? The weapons are there without a doubt, but can head coach Phil Estes find a man to distribute the ball. Kyle Rowley will likely be the starter, having been the backup to James Perry, last year’s Ivy Player of the Year.

The Ugly: Brown can’t win the Ivy title, thanks to some overzealous athletic supporters. To prevent this in the future, the media guide has a page titled “NCAA Rules for Alumni,” subtitled “I’m confused about what the NCAA rules say.” Well, that appears to be an understatement. For any further questions on this issue, call the NCAA.

5. Harvard:

1999 Record: 5-5, 3-4 Ivy

Returning lettermen: 25

The Good: Probably the best offensive line in the league, led by All-Ivy Mike Clare. It is a big, experienced unit which blocked for all-time leading rusher Chris Menick, who graduated last spring. Now it will open holes for Chuck Nwokocha, who sprints for the track team in the spring.

The receivers should also be a strength of the Crimson, despite the loss of the acrobatic Terence Patterson. Carl Morris and Kyle Cremarosa are both over 6-0 and could cause trouble on the deep ball.

Chris Stakich will try to fill the large shoes of last year’s first-team All-Ivy tight end Chris Eitzmann. Weighing in at 253-pounds, the 6-3 Stakich is yet another big blocker for the Crimson to use while establishing a ground game. He caught seven balls a year ago, including two touchdowns.

The Bad: With the graduation of Brad Wilford as the signal caller, practically the entire defense and both kickers, there are some issues in Cambridge. Six of the nine graduated defenders were first-, second- or honorable mention All-Ivy team. Willie Alford leads the secondary, which should be the “strength” of the defense.

The Ugly: Re-read the bad. The defense lost nine starters, six of which were All-Ivy in some capacity.

6. Dartmouth:

1999 Record: 2-8, 2-5 Ivy

Returning lettermen: 31

The Good: Returning starting quarterback Brian Mann should assert himself as a power in the league. Damien Roomets will be the beneficiary of Mann’s improvement as he is the leading returning receiver with 31 catches and 448 yards in ’99. Matt DeLellis and Matt Davis both had 29 receptions last year, but Tyler Haney could be the biggest headache for opposing defense as he is one of the better sprinters on the Green’s track team.

The ground game will be led by Reggie Belhomme, who had 532
yards and seven touchdowns last year. However, much of his success will depend on the offensive line, and here there is promise. The Green graduated only one starter, and returns unanimous first-team All-Ivy guard Celeb Moore. The line also has five people over 280-pounds, including Moore at 305.

The Bad: The defense graduated seven starters, including four of the top five tackles from last year. Matt Mercer is supposed to anchor the linebackers, but he was injured for most of last year. Gordon Quist and Josh Woods will likely flank Mercer.

The front four is even more uncertain. Matt Walker is the only returning starter of this group, though Jeff Garrett did earn a letter last year and is the biggest of the group at 295-pounds.

The Ugly: The offense, which scored over 20 points only three times last year, will be asked to carry the load, especially at the start of the year.

7. Princeton:

1999 Record: 3-7, 1-6 Ivy

Returning lettermen: 36

The Good: The Tigers return seven starters on offense, including Dennis Norman, a first-team All-Ivy on the line. Tommy Crenshaw also returns as the signal caller, which is just about the first time since the end of the Cold War that a starting quarterback returned. Crenshaw went 157 for 281 last year, racking up 1,662 yards and seven touchdowns.

When first-year head coach Roger Hughes decides to put the ball on the ground, Kyle Brandt should be the man. Brandt had a 100-yard game the first time he suited up in the orange and black three seasons ago, but last year he was switched to the defensive secondary for four weeks in the middle of the year.

On the other side of the ball, Nathan Podsakoff should be the anchor of the defensive line. After 49 tackles a year ago, including 28 solo, he earned honorable mention All-Ivy honors.

The linebackers are probably the strength of tthe defense, led by captain Michael Higgins, who lead the team with 85 tackles a year ago. Steven Koopman, Drew Babinecz and Bob Farrell all started at various times last year. Chris Roser-Jones also returns after making 30 tackles and two picks in ’99.

The Bad: The secondary will be very inexperienced. Brian Beem is the only returner with any experience, while Paul Simbi also got some playing time last year as a freshman due to injuries.

The receivers are not an electric group. The leading returner is Chisom Opara, who caught 10 balls for 156 yards a year ago. Stats like this do not exactly inspire fear.

The Ugly: Moving the ball consistently. Last year the Tigers scored six or fewer points in three games. Unfortunately for Princeton, when it did manage to keep a game close, it just couldn’t win, losing by two to Yale and one to Dartmouth.

8. Columbia:

1999 Record: 3-7, 1-6 Ivy

Returning lettermen: 38

The Good: Jonathan Reese, the featured running back, returns after a season which saw him run for 607 yards. That came after a year which saw him garner the Ivy Rookie of the Year award, so much is expected of the 6-1, 210-pound workhorse.

Opening the holes for Reese is an experienced offensive line, led by Brian Gordon, a possible All-Ivy at center. Kimball Payne, Matt Himelstein, Joe Pine, Micah Smith and Rob Ulmer will compete for other spots around the line. Everyone of these players goes over 275, with the lone exception of Gordon, making the o-line a strength of the offense.

The defense returns three linemen in Matt Stary, Andy Kirwan and Chris Nugent. These three will be charged with occupying blockers so Matt Porter can attempt to improve upon his 90 tackles from a year ago. Converted fullback Kirby Mack and Fordham transfer Craig Brown should help here.

The Bad: Simply put, any part of the offense not mentioned above. No solid leader at quarterback, the top-two returning wide receivers caught all of five balls between them last year. In fact, the leading returning receiver is co-captain tight end Jason Pease, who pulled in 12 balls last year.

The Ugly: Columbia last won an Ivy title in 1961, when it shared the crown with Harvard.

Archived article by J.V. Anderton