LINING THEM UP
To the football observer who can see hopeful prospects only in a galaxy of veteran stars, the Harvard backfield outlook for the coming season may not seem particularly bright. But to the believer in the infinite possibilitios of development, given a squad of fast, rugged backs as a starting point, the chances of seeing the Harvard attack restored to its former high prestige must appear unusually good.
In addition to the four quarter backs, Coach Arnold Horween '20 has ten backfield men at his disposal this year. All of them are fast, most of them are tough, the kind of backs which can stand a lot of hammering, and more than half of them are competent kickers as well as ball carriers. J. P. Crosby '28, A. E. French '29, and David Guarnaccia '29 are the only members of this backfield squad who have had previous University experience, but, in the opinion of this writer at least, they will find themselves hard pressed to hold down their positions by some of the new backs. S. C. Burns '29, G. E. Donaghy '29, and T. G. Moore '29, are Juniors who have been developing rapidly since football practice started two weeks ago and are showing themselves capable running mates to the veterans mentioned above.
Sophomore Stars Substitute
And then Coach Horween has J. V. Hitch '30, G. C. Holbrook '30, T. T. Mason '30, and W. R. Harper '30, a quartet of hard, speedy runners from last year's Freshman team, to draw on in forming his backfield combinations. In recent years the most successful offensives have been built around two, or, in some cases three, sets of high class backs which have been almost equal in strength and versatility. A glance at the array of backs mentioned above indicates the possibility of such a situation at Harvard this year. Let us consider the various backfield combinations as they now stand.
Crosby, Guarnaccia, and Burns comprise the team A backfield which Coach Horween has announced as his starting choice for this afternoon's encounter with Vermont. A second combination composed of Moore, fullback, and French, Donaghy and Hitch alternating at the halfback positions possess almost all the qualities of the first and look capable of rivalling it in action.
Crosby, as far as reputation is concerned, is the outstanding back on the University squad. As a Freshman three years ago and the next year as a University regular he won for himself the name of one of the leading Crimson backs of recent years. But ineligibility forced Crosby out of the regular gridiron work last year and it is still a matter of doubt whether or not he can regain his former form after a year's comparative lay-off. But whether he reaches the heights he touched two years ago again or not Crosby is bound to be a dangerous threat to opposing teams this year, and is likely to improve greatly as the season approaches its climax.
Guarnaccia rose suddenly to first team rank last year because of his great speed and weight and his accurate passing. As yet a relatively inexperienced player, he possesses possibilities for much development. As a ball carrier he is strongly reminiscent of A. H. Miller '27, former University sprinter and full back. With almost Miller's speed, Guarnaccia is lighter and better able to vary his pace than his predecessor, and more dangerous to opposing teams because of his passing ability.
Burns is thought by many followers of Harvard football to be the backfield find of the current season. At Andover and as a Freshman at the University Burns was a strong wingman. Coach Horween shifted him to the backfield at the opening of football practice this year, and Burns has subsequently vindicated the shift by earning an undisputed berth in the team A backfield. With Moore and French, Burns ranks first among the University punters, and is also a drop and place kicker of merit. He is rugged in build a fast runner, and gives promise of being an effective ball carrier.
It may seem strange that French's name does not appear in the first team list. French captained his Freshman team and last year was the most brilliant of the University backs. But French has not entirely recovered from an infected knee which has been bothering him this fall, and it is improbable that he will see more than a few minutes of action today. Whether the coaches want to develop two nearly equal backfields as they did last year, and will for this reason keep French out of the first combination after he is fully recovered, is a question that it is impossible to answer at present.
Moore, who until last Wednesday, held down the team A fullback assignment, has been shifted to team B, where he has been doing most of the kicking. His work this year so far indicates great improvement over his last year's showing which never enabled him to win a place on the University squad. Hitch is the tall, 190 pound type of back who is especially valuable for ripping holes in an opposing line, ram on the Freshman team last year, and will probably be called on with Guarnaccia to do much of the straight line bucking this year.
Donaghy is the lightest halfback of the University squad. But he is also one of the toughest, the hardest to down, and the most level headed. In the 34 to 0 defeat his Freshman team suffered at the hands of Yale two years ago his playing stood out as one of the few bright spots in a gloomy afternoon. In recent scrimmages he has been showing up well as a running back, which combined with an ability to throw and handle passes has advanced him to the position of an excellent first stging possibility.
Mason, Harpor, and Holbrook are all young players of great promise. As Freshmen last year their work was consistently good, and any one of them shows possibilities of breaking into one of the first two backfield combinations before the season is far progressed--By Time Out.