Senior Class Deserves Special Place in Harvard Football Lore

TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE
Jessica E. Zbikowski

Senior Brian Edwards returns a punt 53 yards for a TD.

For four years, they gave their time, their effort and their lives to Harvard football. They collectively put the fate of the Crimson’s program on their shoulders and elevated Harvard football to the top of the Ivy league.

And on Saturday, in front of a capacity crowd at Harvard Stadium, the senior class gave the Crimson faithful one last incredible memory.

It starts with Ryan Fitzpatrick, the captain quarterback with NFL prospects who never let his personal ambition get in the way of team glories. The second-leading passer in Harvard history didn’t complain when sophomore back Clifton Dawson emerged on the scene as a primary offensive threat.

He accepted that this team—this senior class—was bigger than just him.

There’s Brian Edwards, the free spirit wide receiver who refuses to fair catch and scored two touchdowns in his final appearance in Crimson. Ricky Williamson, a recruited running back who willingly switched to defense to help the team, and then took an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in his last game. There’s Bobby Everett, who is the heart of a Crimson defense that has far exceeded expectations.

And then there are the guys that maybe you haven’t seen on the front page of The Crimson or getting mobbed in the end zone.

There’s John Bechdol, a walk-on offensive lineman who helped anchor the line his senior year. And Adam Jenkins, the tight end who pulled his hamstring mid-season and was supposed to be out the entire year, only to return the following week and play through the pain.

“I’m tremendously proud of this senior class,” said a visibly emotional Harvard coach Tim Murphy after the game. “They made a goal to make this happen nine months ago and were unwavering in their commitment to see it through.”

People always say perspective comes with distance—that you can never fully appreciate accomplishments until the emotion of the moment has faded away. And then sometime later—a day maybe, a week, a year?—you can look back and truly understand what took place.

But this senior class needs no distance. Their accomplishments need no interpretation. All you need to know is one number: 33.

That’s 33 wins compared to just six losses. That’s 33 times over the past four years that the sounds of “Ten Thousand Men of Harvard” have blared out from the Crimson locker room. You don’t need to wait for perspective. Everything they’ve done speaks for itself.

“We knew that as a senior class we had to do something our senior year,” Fitzpatrick said. “It’s great to have rings on our finger and go 9-0 and have that experience our freshman year, but it was what we were going to do our senior year that would decide how we were going to be remembered.

It’s the most successful four-year stretch in the modern era of Harvard football.

When Fitzpatrick and Edwards and Everett and all the rest arrived on campus in the summer of 2001 no one could have expected this. But this group of seniors made this team their own. They bonded immediately and took it upon their shoulders to elevate Harvard football to the next level.

Two Ivy championships, two perfect seasons and four victories over Yale later, it’s safe to say mission accomplished.

“It’s going to be very tough for me to say goodbye to these guys,” Murphy said.

Anyone who watched Harvard football this year feels the same way.

—Staff writer David H. Stearns can be reached at stearns@fas.harvard.edu.

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