Freshman football coaches are understandably presented with a large undertaking for mere mortals when they start work with a new crop of candidates. Although Yardling coach Bob Margarita had a potentially good team at the outset of the season, he was no exception to this rule.
Freshmen come from all parts of the country and play all kinds of football before registering here. Many are entirely unfamiliar with the Harvard single wing offense. Discussing preliminary plans at the start of the season, Margarita pointed out that "many of these boys will have to be taught to play in a manner entirely foreign to them. We're going to work on fundamentals and then work some more."
The emphasis on fundamentals had not taken hold by the Dartmouth game, however. The Indians won, 20 to 0. The next week Margarita drilled the team even more than usual on fundamentals. The emphasis began to show results. Fullback Stan Merkel, counted upon heavily at the start of the year, began to drive harder and break away more often in practice. Guard Pete Briggs was turning in consistently good line play. Hal Anderson had learned to play both tackle positions and could be depended upon as a utility lineman. Bob Hill, although still on the "B" team, was showing progress at guard. Captain Larry McCully was leading the huge forward wall with precision play.
The difference showed up in the Brown game, which the yearlings won 19 to 12. Merkel scored one touchdown. Tackling and blocking was done the way it should be done. Club Newell was alert enough to grab a Cub fumble and travel 12 yards for a touchdown. Dooney Iselin intercepted a Brown pass behind the Cub goal line for the winning score.
The Princeton mud affair, which the Crimson won 31 to 0, pointed out a still greater improvement, both offensively and defensively. The line held, even in the ankle-deep mud. Tailback Jim Bell broke away for a long touchdown run and began to contribute many of the yards gained by rushing. Merkel came through with three scores, two on long gallops. Ron Johanson began to hit his highly developed ends. Warren Huff and John Sourcek, with successful passes.
The freshman line will be needed quite badly by the varsity next year, since more than half the first 14 varsity linemen will graduate. Since one of Margarita's chief tasks is to prepare material for the varsity, it is only natural to wonder if he has succeeded in preparing some fillers for the gap to be left next season. Margarita says simply, "something will have to be done. Some of my boys will help."