Two years ago in New Haven, Conn., the Yale football team ended the worst campaign in its 113-year history as the Elis slumped off the Yale Bowl turf--after a 16-7 defeat by Harvard--losers for the ninth time in 10 Saturdays.
On that same Saturday, University of Pennsylvania football players hoisted Coach Jerry Berndt on their shoulders in celebration of the team's second consecutive shared Ivy League football title. And last year, Berndt's Quakers won the title outright, posting the first 7-0 Ivy season since 1970.
This year, Yale and Penn, the worst and the best just two years ago, figure as co-favorites in the 1985 Ivy League title race.
One season and six wins after the disastrous '83 campaign, Coach Carm Cozzas's Bulldogs are a good bet to challenge the budding Penn dynasty and cop the Ancient Eight football crown. The potent offense, which averaged over 24 points per game last year, is again led by senior signalcaller Mike Curtin. Tailback Ted Macauley averaged 4.3 yards per carry as a sophomore and split end Kevin Moriarty, a three year starter, is one of the league's best.
The Elis led the Ivies in rushing defense last year and the majority of that stingy unit is back. Captain Carmen Ilacqua and Ardel Mckenna may well be the best linebacker tandem in the league. They'll spearhead a defense that is sure to terrorize offenses around New England.
Berndt took over the worst team in the Ivies in 1981. Thanks largely to his magical leadership, it took Penn only one year to claim an Ivy crown. But with 15 starters gone from last year's undefeated squad, Berndt's task again seems formidable.
Tailback Rich Comizio, last year's Rookie of the Year, is back with fullback Mike O'Neill to make the backfield deep. The good news for the offense may end there--quarterback Jim Crocicchia missed all of last season with a shoulder injury and the receivers who accounted for 93 of the 96 receptions last year are gone.
Defensive tackle Tom Gilmore--the league's best defensive player--anchors a defense that boasts a strong corps of linebackers, notably Gavin O'Connor and Denton Walker. Although the Quakers don't enjoy the depth they've had the past few seasons, good people in some key positions, a tough defense, and Coach Berndt's ability to motivate his team are certain to place Penn high up in the Ivy's final standings.
The Crimson (see analysis, page C-1) looks to be the best of the rest. With talented senior Brian White at the offensive helm and last year's Ivy leading rusher Robert Santiago returning, the backfield promises to be one of the league's most exciting.
The defense is solid, as Cecil Cox, K.C. Smith and Ken Tarczy all return to the secondary. Captain Brent Wilkinson leads a deep linebacking corps.
Harvard has only one returning offensive or defensive lineman, which means that to challenge, the Crimson must develop strength and cohesion up front.
Dartmouth figures to be the strongest of the middle pack of Ancient Eight teams. Leading an offense returning 20 of the top 22 performers is pint-sized quarterback Brian Stretch, who is joined in the backfield by tailback Ernie Torain (4.7 yards per carry last year). The receiving corps of Scott Truitt, Doug Keare and Frank Doyle is as fine as any in the league.
The big question about the Big Green of '85 is defense. Aside from a solid group of linebackers, the unit is, well, green. If an inexperienced line and secondary can perform well, then Yukica's squad will be a formidable Saturday task for any team.
Brown Coach John Rosenberg '67 says the '85 edition of Bruin football may surprise some people. "We are a middle of the pack pick right now but we think we're better than that." With 30 returning lettermen, Rosenberg may be on target.
Coming off a 4-5 campaign, the Bruins have seasoned players in all areas. The defense will have eight starters back, including Mark Miller and George Reilly in the secondary. Steve Kettleberger guides a powerful offense that Rosenberg says has some of the league's best talent at the skills positions. The weakest part of the team is the offensive line, where only one starter returns. Rosenberg says a victory in the season opener against Yale is crucial for the team's momentum as the Bruins try for their first title since '76.