After a sabbatical and a sabbatical year, the Ivy League crowns familiar champions | Top stories

After a sabbatical and a sabbatical year, the Ivy League crowns familiar champions

| News Today | abc News

PROVIDENCE, RI – The Ivy League football standings don’t look much different this season: Dartmouth and Princeton, one of whom had won at least a share of four of the last five leagues, did so again after the final of the Saturday season.

While Dartmouth beat Brown here, 52-31, Princeton beat Penn, 34-14, in Philadelphia to stay tied for first place.

The engravings on the championship trophy, however, will not tell the story of an extraordinary year for the only Division I league that did not play football last season due to the coronavirus pandemic – and was trying to ‘dodge his remains until the end of this season. (Three senior defensive starters from Dartmouth missed their career final on Saturday after testing positive for the virus earlier this week.)

“We didn’t know what we had to do this season, but we had the same expectations,” said Dartmouth linebacker Tanner Cross. He and two other senior captains, quarterback Derek Kyler and tight end Robbie Mangas, held up the Ivy League Championship trophy, which Dartmouth shared with Yale in 2019.

If the Ohio States of the world were content to play a truncated schedule last season, or if the Stanfords didn’t play in front of fans or the Delawares had to wait until spring, at least they played football. .

The Ivy League, instead, took a red shirt year.

Without the allure of billions in TV revenues or the incentive of an overwhelming number of fans demanding their dose of football, Ivy League presidents decided on July 8, 2020 that they would not play football in the fall. last – and, later, that they would only allow a handful of sports competitions in the spring.

Most soccer players, with closed weight rooms like classrooms, stayed home or retired away from campus last fall. Some seniors did not register for a term in order to maintain their eligibility; The Ivy League, which doesn’t allow graduate students to play sports, made an exception for this season in February, but it was too late for many to apply. And when two classes of freshman footballers hit campuses in August, many were meeting their coaches – and teammates – for the first time.

Dartmouth strength coach Spencer Brown tried to get players involved during the pandemic, soliciting videos for creative workouts they were doing on their own. (Bettor / kicker Ryan Bloch built weightlifting equipment out of PVC pipes and buckets filled with rocks and water.) But with over 120 players on the roster, there was so much to learn. . When freshman offensive linemen were required during training camp to state the names of the starting defensive line, a serious freshman called out Shane Cokes, a junior defensive end, as Shawn Coates. Among his teammates, the new name stuck, even though Cokes has had an exceptional season.

“The only contact we were able to have for most of the year was virtual and they were all isolated,” said Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens. “Normally you have a few team meetings where you talk about table manners, public speaking, or social issues. With small screenshots, it was just different – there is no commitment. Once the guys click, they’re back in their individual world. No one had the chance to interact.

The first practice looked like Football 101. The first game wasn’t much better: Dartmouth fumbled five times and gave up two safeties, although the Big Green managed to beat Valparaiso. Dartmouth (9-1 overall; 6-1 in conference) beat Princeton, 31-7, but was content to share the title with the Tigers (9-1, 6-1) after losing to Columbia, 19 -0.

There was also a lot to learn at Princeton.

In the spring of 2020, as scientists were just beginning to learn about the new virus, Princeton coach Bob Surace and then athletic director Mollie Marcoux Samaan developed a 40-page plan detailing how football could be. played safely. This included setting up an outdoor weight room, staging where receivers would line up as they walked practice routes, and not retreat to the locker rooms at halftime.

Although vaccines are now available – everyone in the program is vaccinated, Surace said – protective measures remain.

The defensive staff are in the football offices, but the attacking coaches have moved into the stadium. When Surace meets with his coordinators to review game plans, it’s away or over the phone. All post-practice meetings take place outside. Instead of all the attacking or group defense, players have met in position groups and are split up – 20 offensive linemen in a 60-seat classroom, for example.

Nor have the Tigers been immune to the chaos of the rest of the world’s supply chain. Helmets had to be borrowed from other colleges during training camp due to delays in getting the equipment to pass inspection after being refurbished. (Trevor Forbes, a senior defensive back, trained with a borrowed red helmet until the opening week of the season.) There were also days when the recovery drinks were swallowed without ice because the convenience stores nearby were closed.

“Our players were so patient with things that they weren’t used to that were out of our control,” said Surace, whose team only lost to Dartmouth. “Enjoying being there won out over everything. “

Few Ivy League players this season have been more grateful than the fifth-year seniors who postponed graduation in order to have a chance to make their final season. “It was the best decision of my life,” said Forbes, one of 17 Princeton seniors who postponed their studies to remain eligible. With a degree in sociology, he was hired by a media technology company and spent the year living and working in Dallas. He added, “I got some real world skills and then I got to come back and play this game that I love with my boys – and get some closure.”

Nick Howard, a quarterback at Dartmouth, had a different assessment. He spent the first part of this year caring for his mother, who died of cancer in April. “As horrible as it has been to be locked up, in a way I’m grateful,” said Howard, a junior from Green Bay, Wisconsin. “I’m an only child, and for me being at home has helped me appreciate what you have when you have it. Like having a family meal with loved ones or being in a locker room with your loved ones. friends.

He added: “I have learned more than anything how important this team is to me. I love my teammates.

Even though football has resumed much closer to normal this season, with almost no interruptions and with fans in attendance, a reminder of how little was guaranteed arrived here on Saturday when the Dartmouth players emptied the bus on a sunny morning and crispy at 40 degrees. Those not traveling with the team included middle linebacker Jalen Mackie, safety back Niko Mermigas and linebacker Trevon Erickson. Receiver Isaac Boston was also eliminated. All had tested positive for the coronavirus this week, according to Teevens, Dartmouth’s first positives all season.

“It was like the cards were returned to us,” said Cross, a fifth-year senior from Fort Smith, Ark., Who gave his team a pep talk Friday before boarding the buses here. “We weren’t sure how many we were going to do without, but we were going to show up with what we had. That’s the beauty of our program.

The defense, which had not allowed more than 21 points all season, did not match up against EJ Perry, a former Boston College quarterback. But the patchwork unit nonetheless stuffed Brown’s running back Allen Smith on fourth and 1 point at Brown 34 with the score tied at 14-14 in the second quarter. A few plays later, Jonny Barrett, a reserve receiver from Dartmouth, had a superb catch leaping into the end zone on one of Kyler’s three touchdown passes.

The offense continued to bear the burden. Howard, the other member of Dartmouth’s quarterback tandem, rushed for two touchdowns, giving him 15 touchdowns this season. And to top Dartmouth’s scoreline, Keegan McHugh, a senior reserve running back, scored 65 yards for a touchdown that sparked huge celebration along the visitors’ sideline.

“I’m so happy for these guys,” Teevens said, as the players and their families celebrated around him. “There was so much uncertainty – the fifth year seniors who put their lives on hold and said I was coming back, the younger guys who hadn’t played in a while, the rookies who came without visiting the campus. We were kind of an unnamed bunch and look where they are now. “

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