The Cornell football program will have its work cut out for it this season. This year’s team enters the season ranked sixth in the Ivy League media poll, ahead only of Brown and Columbia. Considering that the Bears and Lions won a combined three games last year, that ranking doesn’t say much. But in a game where one block, pass, or run can lead to a win, preseason rankings can mean little.
Penn, which finished last season undefeated in league play, was the media’s pick to repeat at Ivy champs. The Quakers garnered 12 first-place votes and 123 points. Harvard came in second in the poll despite the loss of Ivy League Player of the Year wide receiver Carl Morris. Upstart Yale and high-powered Dartmouth rounded out the top half of the conference.
Meanwhile, Princeton, Cornell, Brown and Columbia rounded out the bottom portion of the media poll.
Entering his third season as Cornell head coach, Tim Pendergast has a modest 6-13 record. But this season, several factors favor his team’s improved success. First, the Red has doubled its win total in each of the past two seasons. After starting with only two victories during the 2001 campaign, Cornell eked past Ivy foes Brown, Columbia, and Dartmouth and upset Towson last season. If that trend continues, Cornell can expect to climb up the ladder this fall.
Fifteen starters and 34 lettermen will return to the field for the Red this fall. That lot includes eight offensive starters: senior quarterback and team captain Mick Razzano, the team’s leading rusher and All-Ivy honorable mention junior Marcus Blanks, and senior receiver John Kellner. Also, protecting these players will be an experienced, not to mention huge, offensive line. The men up front weigh an average of 278 pounds.
On the other side of the ball, senior captain and Academic All-American Kevin Rooney will anchor a solid defensive line. Backing him up are junior All-Ivy linebackers Joel Sussman and Brad Kitlowski. Last year, the tandem combined for 172 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, and 3.5 sacks.
The Red will have its first opportunity to prove the critics wrong when it begins its 2003 season on Sep. 20 at home against Patriot League rival Bucknell. Cornell will open the league portion of its schedule a week later against Yale in New Haven.
Archived article by Everett Hullverson