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football team looks to repeat as Ivy champions. By Noel Hynd
As the Quakers
prepare for the programs 125th season, they enter the 2001 campaign
as the defending Ivy League champions for the fourth time in the last
eight seasons, and 10th in the last 20 years
So Penn defends the title
half the time.
seems to happen all the timeand my stats are less official hereis
that the championship crown is earned on the final Saturday of the season.
This year that would be against our Big Red friends at Franklin Field.
Dress warm. While the other seven schools in the Ivy League make plans
to try to dethrone Pennsylvania, heres a sample of what Penn fans will
have to look forward to.
Quakers will return 18 starters, nine on offense and nine on defense,
and 41 lettermen from last seasons 7-3 squad (6-1 Ivy). Included will
be the 2000 Ivy League Player of the Year senior quarterback Gavin Hoffman,
two-time All Ivy senior running back Kris Ryan, and second-team All Ivy
wide receiver senior Rob Milanese.
is the first player since 1997 to return as the Ivy Leagues reigning
Player of the Year. The sixth Quaker to win the Asa A. Bushnell Cup, he
turned in a spectacular season in 2000, becoming Penns all-time leader
in passing yards (5,542), shattering the previous record of 3,954 yards
set by Jimmy McGeehan C94.
Hoffman was pacing the Quakers air attack last year, the ground game
was forced to cope without tailback Ryan. After racking up 1,197 rushing
yards and 10 touchdowns in his breakout sophomore campaign, Ryan was limited
to just 129 carries in 2000 due to two separate injuries. Yet he still
managed 683 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.
addition to having a healthywe hopeRyan in the backfield this year,
Hoffman will also have his favorite target back from last season in Milanese.
Milanese finished fifth in I-AA with 7.6 receptions per game, and set
a new Quakers single-game mark with 13 receptions in Penns season opener
at Lehigh on Sept. 16. His six receiving touchdowns placed him second
on the team.
tight end, Hoffman will have to look for a new target this year. Junior
Matt Michaleski looks to have a leg up for the job, after a solid 2000
last year, one set area was the running game with Ryan in the backfieldright
up until injuries in the pre-season took him out of the equation. The
bulk of the work then went to graduating-senior Mike Verille and junior
Todd Okolovitch. Both filled in admirably. Verille finished second on
the team with 483 yards and six touchdowns. Okolovitch posted career highs
with 57 carries for 233 yards and two touchdowns. Starting fullback Adam
Keslosky returns after being named the Quakers Most Improved Offensive
Player last season.
these guys will have some protection? I do. The offensive line began last
season as the teams biggest question mark. By seasons end, the line
garnered two all-Ivy nods. Returning are all five starting offensive linemen:
seniors Jeff Hatch, Randy Parker, Sam Gottesman, and John Zepeda, and
junior Matt Dukes, a second-team All-Ivy selection and winner of the Chuck
Bednarik Award, given to the teams top offensive lineman.
will probably be moments when Penn doesnt have the ball. For these unhappy
interludes, first-team All-Ivy selections Ed and John Galan return for
their senior seasons to terrify opposing quarterbacks and anchor the defensive
line. Meanwhile, the deepest Ivy linebacker corps returns second-team
All-Ivy junior and team defensive MVP Travis Belden, along with senior
Dan Morris and junior Chris Pennington.
Quaker secondary lost something with the graduation of all-league defensive
backs Joey Alofaituli C00 and Hasani White C01. The two returning starters
are seniors Steve Faulk and Kunle Williams, at corner and safety, respectively.
While Faulk made a name for himself on special teams last season, he also
accomplished several missions on defense, recording 35 tackles and five
pass breakups. Williams also had a strong season, recording a career-high
29 tackles and picking off two passes.
Fred Plaza appears to have the inside track at the second corner opening,
after recording 28 tackles in 2000. Junior Eric Richardson and sophomore
Patrick McManus will compete for the backup slot. Meanwhile, at safety,
the competition should be fierce, as senior D.L. Bouldrick, junior Vince
Alexander, and sophomore Kevin Stefanski all vie for the final starting
special teams, the Ivy Leagues all-time scoring leader as a kicker, Jason
Feinberg C01, was also lost to graduation. Feinberg accounted for a team-high
83 points last season, 27 percent of the teams offense. Junior Roman
Galas, who handled the teams kickoff duties last season, will compete
with junior Alex Bush and sophomore Peter Veldman to succeed Feinberg.
duties will fall to sophomore Joe Phillips, Plaza, and senior Colin Smith.
Phillips established himself last year as one of Division I-AAs top return
men. In the unlikely event that anyone scores against Penn, Faulk and
Williams will get the nod on kickoff returns.
Ryan Lazzeri returns for his fourth-straight season as starting punter.
And last but not least, Junior John Westhoff will again handle the short-snapper
duties for the Quakers, while senior Loui Georgalas will get the long-snap
football team was predicted to win its 12th Ivy Crown in a preseason poll
of reporters who cover ivy schools and also ranks high in two I-AA college
football polls, thanks to all the preceding young men and Coach Al Bagnoli,
who somehow brings it all together year after year. Street & Smiths
2001 college football preview predicts that the Quakers will repeat as
Ivy League champions, and The Sports Networks Tony Moss has tabbed the
Red and Blue 18th in his unofficial preseason poll.
that, of course, is before a single game is played, and being the defending
champ is like wearing a target every week. The last time Penn repeated
was 1993-94. Its difficult enough to win once. Back-to-back again?
road games this year are at Hanover, New York, Providence, and Cambridge.
This should be a very good team. I ask the same question every year: Can
you think of a better way to spend a Saturday in the fall?
C70 writes on sports for the Gazette.
issue's column | Sept/Oct Contents | Gazette
Copyright 2001 The Pennsylvania
Gazette Last modified 8/24/01