Harvard Readies for Brown Showdown

Harvard's Big Offensive Line: Dedicated and Unsung Heroes

Thump. Thump. Kubacki--thump--to Winn--thump--for a completed--thump--pass and first down. The play is over, the players skip and slap toward the huddle, the fans cheer.

After the game, the great man theory of football is perpetuated over gin and tonics. Kubacki, Davenport, Emper's great tackle, and McDermott's spectacular catch won the game.

The fans have played Follow-the-Football, and the offensive line remains a confused jumble, a creator of sound effects. But the "great men" who emerge are more than aware of just what stands behind--or, rather, in front of--their success.

Confidence Abounds

"In high school," quarterback Kubacki said Tuesday, "if I saw a blitz coming, I'd run. But this year, it's no sweat. Why? Because I have such confidence in our offensive line."

Before a pass, with players collapsing around him, Kubacki not only looks calm, he is calm. He knows the quality of Harvard's offensive line is a matter of fact, not hope or contension. The Crimson is first in league offense, in running, passing, scoring, and has the highest yard average per game.

Still, the offensive linemen remain the least-sung heros of the squad, which all five agree is the most frustrating aspect of their position. George Callas, their coach, explained, "They never get credit when things go well. And when things go poorly, they are the first to be blamed--unfairly."

Of the five, two are all-Ivy, center Carl Kulig and tackle and captain DanJiggetts. They, guards Kevin McCafferty and Joe Antonellis and tackle Bob Wagner have been working together for three years.

Between them, they have over 45 years of experience. They each spend over 40 hours a week playing football, not to mention the time they spend studying Crimson coach Joe Restic's multiple-offense system.

They take their experience and their resulting closeness, confidence and executing effectiveness pretty much for granted. And not one of them will lament the fact that each will go through their entire football careers never having touched a game ball.

Controlled Aggression

The job of the offensive lineman is demanding, physically and mentally. Explained Restic, "There are two types of aggressiveness: controlled and uncontrolled. The offensive line has to be controlled. They must be quick, disciplined, intelligent and alert, and ready to adjust quickly to drastic and varied defense changes."

The control is inhibiting, their movements unnatural. Jiggetts, who played defense in high school said, "I really miss the freedom of defense. On offense the only freedom you have is running on and off the field."

Why do they do it then, these freedom-less and glory-less linemen? "Personal satisfaction," they grunted in unison yesterday. Yes, the feeling that they and their teammates know how much the line has contributed to the team's success.

Satisfaction in Victory

They all agreed that winning was the most satisfying part of it. "Especially when we're playing a team with a good defense," Antonellis added. "The Dartmouth, Cornell and Penn defenses were all first in the Ivies when we went up against them."

Antonellis smiled slyly: "When we were finished with them, they were fifth or sixth."

There has been a lot of noise coming from Providence all year about Brown's offensive line being the best in the Ivies. It's a rumor the Crimson line can't wait to dispell. But they don't do much talking about it. Said Jiggetts, "We'll show them Saturday on the field."

When asked out of all the offensive lines he's coached, which he would like to have against Brown, Restic responded without reflection' "This is the one I want. They have experience, savvy, ability, and they play as a cohesive and effective unit.

Would he prefer to have Brown's? Restic grimaced. "I'll take ours."

Harvard's offensive linemen don't know why they became linemen, except because of their shapes. "Look at us," exclaimed Culig, "we're more square than anything else."

"Yes, we're the building blocks of the team," retorted Wagner, proud of his wit. But the offensive linemen's laughter was short and hollow. The statement was more true than witty.

And that is something of which the unsung heros of Harvard's flight to the top of the Ivies are--deservedly--very proud.