One morning about a week before Dartmouth's football season opener with UMass, a 5' 11", 160-pound right halfback from the soccer team went out to the practice field with Big Green kicking coach Jake Crouthamel to try his hand at field goals.
After hitting ten straight from inside the 30, he moved back a bit and drilled a 57-yard attempt through the middle of the uprights.
"I guess he was impressed," Dartmouth place-kicker Wayne Pirmann said Wednesday night,
Apparently so. After witnessing Pirmann's exhibition, Crouthamel bluntly announced, "You're our place-kicker." The next Saturday, Wayne Pirmann pulled on a football uniform for the first time in his life and, indeed, became just that.
Since his debut against UMass, Pirmann has connected on 18 of 30 extra points and has yet to miss a field goal. With 24 points, he is the team's second leading scorer behind halfback John Short-no mean accomplishment considering that Dartmouth leads the nation in scoring with a 39.9-point per game average.
Back at the Ranch
At the same time, the junior from Philadelphia is second in scoring on the soccer team with goals against Middlebury and Amherst.
Pirmann's development into a first-rate kicker solved one of the few problems Dartmouth coach Bob Blackman faced when he assembled his squad in early September.
Until Pirmann's arrival, Russ Adams was delegated with the kicking duties. When Adams missed five of seven attempts in the Indians' scrimmage with the University of Vermont. Blackman and his staff made no secret of their consternation.
Word filtered around to Ripley Hall, where Pirmann lives, and one day he asked one of the football managers who lives in the same dorm if he might try out.
The next morning, Pirmann was on the practice field and the Dartmouth coaches were all smiles.
At first, there was some doubt as to how well Pirmann would perform under game conditions. His two field goals of 32 and 34 yards squelched those doubts once and for all.
Singleness of Purpose
"My job is to get the ball through the uprights," Pirmann said Wednesday. "I haven't really noticed the pressure so far."
Of course, Dartmouth has mauled its first four opponents and Pirmann has yet to be in a win-or-lose situation. "I don't worry about that," he mused, "because I seriously don't anticipate any of our games being that close."
Perhaps. But it is not difficult to recall the Harvard-Dartmouth game of three years ago when Indian placekicker Pete Donovan scored a field goal in the last ten seconds to salvage a 23-21 victory.
That incident was particularly painful for the Crimson because Donovan missed on his first attempt from 25 yards. But an offside penalty gave Donovan another opportunity and this time he didn't miss.