September 20, 2012

2012 FOOTBALL SUPPLEMENT | Ivy League Preview: Crimson Remains Hot and Dangerous

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Brown Bears

2011: 7-3, 4-3 Ivy

The Bears will be led once more this year by senior defensive back A.J. Cruz. Cruz tore up the Ivy League last year as a defensive back and special teams, earning first team All-Ivy honors. He led the Ivy League in kickoff returns with 405 yards for an average of 31.15 yards per returns, which was also fourth best in the country. Senior Patrick Donnelly will spearhead the offense at quarterback after missing most of his junior year due to injury. Donnelly passed for 411 yards his sophomore year and was second on the team in passing and punting. The Bears also finished tied for second in the Ivy League last year with a 4-3 record. They will have their work cut out for them as they are set to face Harvard in the first game of the season, a match that will surely show whether or not Brown has a legitimate chance at its first Ivy Title since 2008.

Columbia Lions

2011: 1-9, 1-6 Ivy

The Lions finished in the cellars of the Ivy League last year, tied with Princeton for the bottom spot with a 1-6 record in the conference. Quarterback Sean Brackett — who received All-Ivy Honorable Mention honors in 2011 — returns as a senior to lead a struggling offensive team that was shut out once against Dartmouth last season. For the Lions, the highlight of 2011 was a come-from-behind double overtime victory over Dartmouth in the final game of the season. The Lions’ defense stopped a fourth and goal from the one, goal-line stand in the second overtime period, giving the squad its only win of the season. However, the Lions lost 24 seniors to graduation after that game, including senior linebacker Evan Miller and senior defensive back A.J. Maddox. 2012 looks to be another rebuilding year for the Lions, who will have to rely on Brackett if they hope to win any conference games.

Dart­mouth Big Green

2011: 5-5, 4-3 Ivy

The Green ended up in a tie for second place in the conference in 2011 with a relatively young starting lineup. The squad had two freshman wide receivers — Bo Patterson and Kirby Schoenthaler who, with a year of experience under their belts, are poised to bolster the offense along with senior wide receiver Michael Reily who is returning after sitting out last season. In his first three seasons with the Green, he recorded over 1,000 receiving yards. Three captains — junior linebacker Bronson Green, senior offensive lineman Patrick Lahey and senior safety Garrett Waggoner — will also lead the squad. The Green’s weaknesses will be at the quarterback position and on defense, where nine starters were lost to graduation. Sophomore Alex Park will likely be the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, but he only saw action in two games last season. Park will need to mold into the offense fairly quickly and efficiently to make Dartmouth a contender in 2012.

Harvard Crimson

2011: 9-1, 7-0 Ivy

After winning yet another Ivy championship and watching one of its former quarterbacks — Ryan Fitzpatrick — sign a contract with the Buffalo Bills for seven years, 62.2 million dollars last year, the Crimson is showing signs of becoming an Ancient Eight Powerhouse. Going 9-1 and achieving a perfect 7-0 in the Ivy Leauge in 2011, Harvard set a conference record with 11 straight seasons with a minimum .700 winning percentage. Led by head coach Tim Murphy — the winningest coach in Harvard football history — the Crimson has the sixth best winning percentage in Division I football in the last ten years. Senior Colton Chapple is prepared to shine this season. Harvard returns 23 other seniors to the roster, including All-Ivy League Honorable Mention punter Jacob Dombrowski and first team All-Ivy selection at tight end, Kyle Juszczyk. The Crimson already started off the season with a win at home over San Diego and will kick off Ivy play against Brown this weekend.

Penn Quakers

2011: 5-5, 4-3 Ivy

The Quakers happen to be the most decorated Ivy League team with 14 Ivy titles and eight undefeated conference seasons. However, last season Harvard interrupted Penn’s reign, dropping the Quakers into the four-way tie for second place. This year the Quakers have the depth to challenge Harvard for the title. Penn’s running game is probably one of the most formidable in the Ivy League. Jeff Jack, Brandon Colavita and Lyle Marsh are all returning as senior running backs. They have all recorded at least 650 rushing yards over their careers and have 67 games of experience between the three of them. Senior Billy Ragone will lead the offense in his third year as the starting quarterback for Penn. He was a first team All-Ivy selection as a sophomore and is the first player in Penn’s 136-year history to record 2,000 career pass yards and 1,000 rushing yards. The Quakers lost two seniors on their defensive line, but return senior captain Brandon Copeland, a two-time first-team All-Ivy selection. Penn’s matchup with Harvard on Nov. 10 is sure to be an interesting one, as the two powerhouses will likely be jockeying for top spots.

Princeton Tigers

2011: 1-9, 1-6 Ivy

Princeton had high hopes after starting off the 2011 season with a win over Columbia at home. Yet the Tigers lost all of their final seven games of the year and ended up at the bottom of the conference. The Tigers proved to be a hit-or-miss team offensively in 2011. They put up 39 points on Ivy champion Harvard, but were blanked by Brown. The defense also struggled, never allowing fewer than three touchdowns in a game. The squad lost captain and quarterback Tommy Wornham to graduation last year, but will look to replace him with sophomore Quinn Epperly, who has the most experience of any quarterbacks on Princeton’s roster. Epperly saw significant playing time in the final four games of the season, earning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors after rushing for 73 yards and two touchdowns in the season finale against Dartmouth. The Tigers will look to him and senior wide receiver Shane Wilkinson to carry them out.

Yale Bulldogs

2011: 5-5, 4-3 Ivy

Some might say that the Bulldogs have put the enemy at the top of their ranks for the 2012 season. Yale has a new head coach in Tony Reno, who was formally the special teams coordinator and defensive secondary coach at Harvard. Reno has his work cut out for him on offense though, with three freshmen quarterbacks for the starting spot. Without Patrick Witt — starting quarterback and All-Ivy honorable mention in 2011 — the Bulldogs will need to find other options on offense. Defensively, the Bulldogs return second team All-Ivy linebacker Will Mc­Hale, who will also serve as the team captain this year, will be at the quarterback position and on defense, where nine starters were lost to graduation. Soph­omore Alex Park will likely be the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season, but he only saw action in two games last season. Park will need to mold into the offense fairly quickly and efficiently to make Dart­mouth a contender in 2012.

Original Author: Scott Chiusano